How to synchronize your iPod (or iTunes) to Facebook using Last.fm
I started listening to MP3s around 9 years ago, and bought my last CD around 5 years ago. Digital music has become a way of life for me (as it is for most people), to the point where I have around way too many devices for playing MP3s: computer, stereo system, DVD player, game console, cell phone, car and dedicated MP3 players like an iPod.
Yet I’d be the first to tell you that digital music on demand over the Internet is so much more convenient then maintaining, sorting and backing up a large digital music library. Especially when web sites like Last.fm give you great artist discovery based on what you’ve already been listening to.
Another great way to discover new music is by seeing what your friends are listening to. People often using MP3 playing software to automatically update their blog with what they are listening to. Livejournal goes so far as to add a “listening to” field to every blog post. But blogs are so 2001, I’m going to show you how to update your Facebook profile with what you’ve been listening to on your iPod, using last.fm as the middle man.
I’ve been using this technique for a month now and my friends can see what I’m listening to, top tracks of the week, top artists… and best of all with one click they can either play the song or find out more information about the artist. The extra bonus points come from Last.FM getting better and better at discovering music I’ve never heard of yet instantly love.
What You Are Going to Need
- a Windows PC 
- an iPod
- iTunes software
- Facebook account
- last.fm account
- people who want to read your Facebook profile to see how much you rock (and roll) 
A few assumptions: these are general directions, and not a step-by-step walkthrough. I’m going to show you the theory, and point you to where to get better information.
 The theory still works even if you use players other than iPods, or if you are running on Linux or a Mac. You can sync pretty much anything to last.fm, which means that you can sync it to Facebook. See more info on what last.fm supports here.
 This is, surprisingly, the hardest part.
The Easy Part – Synching Last.fm to Facebook
Thanks to those fancy new Facebook applications every one is playing with (have you given up on Super Poke and Free Gifts yet?), there are several ways to update Facebook with your recently played tracks on last.fm:
- The official Facebook app by last.fm
- Pro: people can click on the play icon to listen to the music on your profile.
- Con: They have to click on the app to see your recent updates. They can see your last.fm username.
- Unofficial last.fm apps for Facebook
- Currently there are four apps other than the official one.
- Inside Facebook gives a short review of each.
- Last.fm Plus by Paul Wells This is what I use — highly recommended
- Pro: *Much* simpler and less cluttered than the official plugin, not Flash-based. Can hide your last.fm username.
- Con: People have to leave your profile page to play the music.
I recommend Last.fm Plus over the official application. This is what it looks like. The play button will play the song/artist while clicking on the name will bring them to a biography of the artist with options to play samples, download MP3s, watch videos, buy albums or listen to similar artists. It’ll also show you information like what the most popular song by that artist is.
Here’s what the linked page looks like for Hot Chip.
Hot Tip: When installing Facebook applications, uncheck the “Publish stories in my News Feeds and Mini-feeds” so that you don’t spam the crap out of your friends. Find more information about Facebook application privacy settings here.
(photo by dan morris)
The Less Easy Part – Synching Your iPod to Last.fm
There are several ways of synching your iPod to last.fm
- The official last.fm client (they finally added support!)
- Pro: Part of the official client, less likely to break when iTunes updates
- Con: Only works if you have your iPod set to automatically sync to iTunes
- iSproggler (Windows) or iScrobbler (Mac) This is what I use — highly recommended
- Pro: Supports manually synched iPods.
- Con: Have to choose the “Update iPod” option whenever you want to update. Can give a “script is using iTunes” warning when quitting iTunes.
- Yamipod software for Windows, Mac or Linux (iTunes replacement)
- Pro: You can copy it directly on you iPod so that you’ll always have it with you. Can be used to copy songs back to PC.
- Con: You have to run Yamipod *before* running iTunes or any other manager in order for sync to work. The forums usually have many support threads about getting Yamipod to work with last.fm. Have to manually click the send button.
- Amarok software for Linux/Unix (iTunes replacement)
- Pro: Also supports more devices than just the iPod (iRiver, Zen, others)
- Con: No Mac/Windows support, so I didn’t try it
- Uber geek: script for bridging your iPod to last.fm
- Con: Looks like it is the least supported of all of these methods.
As you can see, there are too many choices. If you have your iPod set up to automatically sync to iTunes, then use the official last.fm client. I’ve settled on using iSproggler since I find it’s more reliable than YamiPod.
Updating your Facebook playlist in 3 Easy Steps
The one time setup steps are
- setting up your Last.FM account,
- installing LastFM Plus on your Facebook profile and
- installing iSproggler on your computer (and configuring it with your Last.FM user account)
After that the sync process is
- Open iTunes
- Open iSproggler (if not configured to open automatically with iTunes)
- Connect your iPod
- Click on the Update iPod button in iSproggler
- That’s it
This works great, and the playlist charts Last.FM Plus generates are above and beyond anything else I’ve seen in other Facebook music apps. I’ve been using it reliably for over a month now, and I highly recommend this technique to anyone with a Facebook account and an iPod.