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Last.fm, spotify and other ways to make your plays benefit DC
In this Brave New World of music, buying records is just the beginning of ways you can support an artist's work. Labels, media and industry mavens are increasingly working to track fans’ music-use activity in ways that transcend traditional metrics like music sales and radio spins. As music use becomes increasingly digital and personalized, and as subscription services rise, the tracking of digital music-plays and other fan activity are emerging as key metrics. As a fan, you can maximize your impact by making sure your activity can be tracked, and using your activity to link with others who might enjoy listening to David Cook – especially those who might not be current fans.
The site nextbigsound.com is among the tools used by industry insiders to assess artists’ impact, and the site reveals the song-play and other fan activity metrics deemed most crucial. The plays are tracked by artist (not by song) though playing current material is always helpful.
To impact David’s stats, you can become a fan/friend, comment, and stream his songs at Myspace, Youtube, Vevo, Reverbnation, Vimeo or the Rdio subscription streaming service. Plays at these sites are directly tracked by nextbigsound, and are visible under the 'plays' tab at David's artist page. nextbigsound also does track plays and fan activity at a few other sites (for instance, Soundcloud, Purevolume) but these plays don't show on the freebie version of their website. Here's their comprehensive stats chart showing what they track. To keep things simple -- any place you're allowed to become a fan/friend, or comment on David's work? Do that. Even page hits at Wikipedia are counted.
Another crucial part of the current play-tracking algorithm is last.fm, an online music community. Among the unique features of last.fm is its associated “scrobble” software, which allows you to feed information into the site from all your song-play activity, whether on your computer or a mobile device. You can maximize the power of playing music you already own, as well as exposing D’s music to potential new fans. Basic steps:
1) Sync any mobile devices to your iTunes if applicable, before beginning.
2) Go to www.last.fm/home and create an account. There’s an email confirmation step.
3) Return to the site, log in, and go to the “Community” page. Download the scrobbler software. The scrobbler gets your “local” plays aggregated to your last.fm profile, then reported to nextbigsound so the corporate suits can see your love for the D-man, as well as letting you interact effectively with other listeners.
4) Follow directions provided to make your scrobbler work with whatever media player(s) you use. Scrobbler should open your iTunes and load all your prior-play data into your profile at last.fm, creating a "library" indicating your play of all the artists you listen to. Comparing your library with that of other users helps last.fm generate recommendations for you and link you with possibly like-minded people. (If you have multiple users on your iTunes account, some of whom don’t share your tastes, manually edit your last.fm library to exclude irrelevant artists. But don’t edit down to only DC-and-friends unless that’s truly all you ever listen to.)
5) Test the scrobbler functionality by playing music from iTunes or windows media player; if it’s working, when you click on your profile name at last.fm (the website), there should be an indication that your music is “scrobbling,” as the list of songs you’re playing appears, in sequence. (There can be several minutes’ time delay.) If there’s a problem, open the last.fm software on your computer (not the website but the software you downloaded) and make sure the music you’re playing is showing up in there, and make sure ‘enable scrobbling’ is selected in the ‘tools’ menu.
6) The faqs at last.fm, “scrobbling” category, provide a plethora of information for how-to-scrobble using many platforms, including varied subscription streaming sites (mog, rdio, rhapsody etc), ipod or android-based players, and internet radio like Pandora. (See item 11 below for specific information about Spotify.) You may need a third-party plug-in for your preferred player; many exist. Last.fm keeps a master list of sites that scrobble and the required apps (if any): . Poke around in the community forums if you are stymied; many helpful answers are there – or just google appropriate terms (ex. “scrobble Pandora”). (Your iPod or Droid plays should scrobble every time you sync your device to your computer; make sure you have the last.fm software -- not just the website but the software -- running before you sync. You should get a notice in the last.fm window, asking if you want to scrobble the plays collected from your mobile player's info. It can take a few minutes for this to appear, post-sync.)
7) You can use last.fm to play “radio” strictly from artists in your library, “mix radio” (your library plus suggestions of additional artists you might like), "recommended radio" (nonlibrary stuff the site thinks you'll like), or radio based on a certain artist you specify. (Be warned; last.fm apparently thinks “David Cook radio” is synonymous with “AmericanIdol radio.” Better tagging of his songs by last.fm users, including you, might help; see item 9 below.) From your profile you can also see “neighbours” (left side menu) who share some of your tastes, and play “neighbours radio" based on their libraries. You can make “friends” with people and converse in the community forums regarding musical loves. Playing DC’s music and scrobbling it pumps his stats at nextbigsound, but playing it with a mix of other artists maximizes opportunities to get new ears on it via the community. Thus all-DC-all-the-time is not necessarily the best long-term strategy. Doing this 24/7 with the sound off just artificially skews the stats, so think twice. Scrobbling your actual natural activity, incorporating DC but not constantly, is the better way to go.
8( DC has an artist page where you can comment (shout). You can also comment on and ‘love’ individual tracks--make sure to 'love' all the TLM tracks in particular. Nextbigsound does count shout-outs to the artist’s credit, and last.fm has a chart of most-loved tracks.
9) VERY IMPORTANT. Use the tagging function on DC tracks to associate his work with alt-rock or whatever other labels you choose. Use labels other than "American Idol" (rock, pop rock, post-grunge, singer-songwriter, etc.) There's great basic tagging info in this post. AND definitely click here for ESSENTIAL info regarding specific suggested tags. In particular, singer-songwriter must always be hyphenated; don't use a slash.
10) There are many ways to use last.fm. Explore and have fun. Make sure the privacy/access settings in your profile allow you to maximize this by not being unduly private.
11) Investigtate Spotify, the newly launched subscription streaming service (not affiliated with last.fm). If you have Spotify, every play of DC’s music there puts a tiny bit of money into the label’s, and ultimately D’s, pocket. This is financially better for them than just playing the music you’ve already bought via iTunes. So – absolutely, buy the music first, but then, if you have Spotify (see www.spotify.com for info), you can play it in Spotify (or another subscription-based service that legally pays royalties to labels/artists). Scrobbling is integrated with Spotify; enable this under the Spotify ‘preferences’ by providing your last.fm user name and password and checking off the scrobbling box.
12) A final note regarding Spotify and royalties. There's some vagueness about whether playing your local files through Spotify, which the app prefers to do if it can, actually produces artist/label royalties. If you want to be absolutely sure, don't integrate iTunes when you do the Spotify set-up routine. If you already integrated, you can use the Spotify preferences to deny use of local files. Access to specific album folders on your computer can always be allowed using the preferences, for music that Spotify doesn't offer, such as TLM Deluxe or Analog Heart. Fair warning: If you're using a free (not paid) Spotify account, denying local access will result in more audio ads, which don't play while you're only playing local files; it might slow your player down some as well.
We’re all relative newbies at this game, but as time goes on, the most effective techniques and strategies will emerge. Please do use the faqs and community forums at last.fm, as well as google search, if you have scrobbling issues; I’m not a tech guru, and there are dozens of platforms that can scrobble with plug-ins. Feel free to address others with tech questions in this thread, though. Suggestions for edits to the OP are welcome.
D's long-term career can be boosted by smart, active, engaged use of emerging technology. Let's buy the music enthusiastically, for sure, and request judiciously at radio, but also stream, scrobble and keep the name of DC buzzworthy out there in the digiverse. If the core tribe has traditionally skewed older (I hope that’s changing over time), it’s important that D not be disadvantaged in this area by ignorance of the tools on our part.