Mashing Your MP3 Music Collection with Last.FM
I’ve often said that one of the qualities of the hardcore geeky is that we have needs that sane normal people don’t have. That’s why there are so many web startups focused on RSS when most people don’t have a clue what RSS is — the geeks don’t realize that their need to have a continuous stream of information and never miss an update from a site they are interested in isn’t the way a lot of people use the internet.
One geek itch I’ve been wanting to scratch is to be able to listen to my MP3 collection using the recommendations from Last.FM. I’ve you’ve never heard of Last.FM, it is a music service that lets you listen music as a radio station over the internet. I’ve been using it for a year and a half and I love it; it’s helped me discover so much good music.
I’ve found two ways to automatically build MP3 playlists using online recommendations. The first way uses iTunes replacement Media Monkey and some extensions to connect to Last.FM (thanks TJOHO!) and the second way uses software by a new startup called The Filter (backed by Peter Gabriel).
Software Thunderdome: Media Monkey vs the Filter
- The Filter is free while Media Monkey comes in a free and pro version. The pro version of Media Monkey is needed to create smart playlists. The Filter makes money by linking to iTunes/eMusic/Amazon where you can buy more music.
- Media Monkey Last.FM support comes from a bunch of extensions written by users. The Filter is professional software supported by a company.
- It’s about a million times easier to get started with the Filter than Media Monkey.
- Media Monkey uses Last.FM. I’m not sure what the Filter uses for recommendations.
- You can browse Last.FM through Media Monkey using Last.FM node.
- The Filter needs iTunes or Windows Media Player software to generate playlists.
- The Filter can run on your Nokia mobile phone. The Filter can also send playlists to your MP3 player (iPod) so you can still use it’s recommendations without a computer or internet connection.
- You can generate 100 song playlists at a time with the Filter. The Media Monkey Last.FM extension only does one song at a time. Both will automatically extend the playlist when you get to the end of your playlist.
- The Filter can fill in missing artwork for your songs.
- The Filter can publish your playlist to a widget you can incorporate on your blog.
- With either software you can still scrobble the songs using Last.FM and display the Last.FM widget on your blog.
- The Filter + iTunes took an obscene amount of memory compared to Media Monkey.
Getting Started with the Filter
- Download the Filter
- When you start the Filter it will also start your music player (iTunes in my case)
- Pick songs to seed the playlist recommendation
- There are a few options you can configure to control the number of songs in the playlist
Using the Filter is much simpler than using Media Monkey with Last.FM. Getting MM to support Last.FM is the kind of Rube Goldberg hack I love.
Getting Started with Media Monkey
- Download Media Monkey
- Import your mp3s
- File >> Add or rescan tracks to the library
- File >> Add or rescan tracks to the library
- Wait until done
Media Monkey doesn’t support Last.FM out of the box. You’re going to have to install several user extensions to get it to work. These are kind of like Firefox extensions, except for Media Monkey. They’re easy to install.
Once you have these three scripts installed you’ll have some very nice integration between Last.FM and Media Monkey.
Media Monkey: Last.fm Top Tracks Script
Last.fm Top Tracks will create a playlist of the top tracks of the currently selected artist according to Last.fm. This is a great trick for putting together “best of” playlists for several artists quickly.
Media Monkey: Last.fm Node Script
Last.fm Node lets you surf through Last.fm artists using the Media Monkey interface. It also has an auto DJ feature similar to Scrobble DJ that I was never able to get working.
Potential Issue: Getting lots of SQL errors
If you see these errors then don’t use the Last.FM Node Auto DJ function. It doesn’t work for me.
Media Monkey: Scrobbler DJ Plugin
This is definitely the coolest Media Monkey extension out of the bunch, although I had a pain getting it to work with Media Monkey v3. It will automatically select a “related artist” whenever you get to the end of a playlist. This is the extension that does something similar to The Filter.
Potential Issue: no such column: Songs.IDArtist
The Scrobbler DJ plugin only supports v2 of Media Monkey. You’ll need to update one of the files to support Media Monkey 3.
Media Monkey: Getting Scrobbler DJ to Work with MM Version 3
You’ll have to download that script and replace the file with the same name in the C:\Program Files\MediaMonkey\Scripts directory.
Media Monkey: Configuring Scrobbler DJ
- Tools >> Options
- Player >> Scrobbler DJ Settings
- You may want to change the default playlist and allow it to play files with unknown ratings. If you’ve never used Media Monkey before (like me) it won’t find a lot to play the first time around.
- The debug mode is useful for figuring out what the heck is going on.
- Gotcha: you need to have more than one song in the play list for it to work. It’ll kick off when you spot playing the last song in the current playlist.
Advanced Users: Scrobbling Tracks with Last.FM and Media Monkey
Scrobbling is when you send Last.FM the list of song you’re listening to. That’s how Last.FM gets better and finding out what you like. Media Monkey isn’t officially supported by Last.FM but you *can* get it working.
- Open the Last.FM Player
- Tools >> Get Plugin
- Click Next then Add…
- Choose “Winamp” in the dropdown box and then browse to your MediaMonkey folder.
Highlight the MediaMonkey.exe executable and click “Open” then click “Ok”
Which is better: The Filter or Media Monkey? Media Monkey has the advantage of using less memory and there are a ton of other extensions you can add to it. The Filter is less buggy and easier to install since this is what it’s supposed to do out of the box. I like that Media Monkey uses Last.FM for the recommendations, but the Filter seems to do the job.