Last.fm Acquired By CBS

Wednesday, 30 May 2007
by rj
filed under Announcements
Comments: 265

Today, Last.fm was acquired by CBS, a company who had the first commercial radio station in the US, ran a record label (CBS Records), and amongst other things are responsible for several respected TV series (CBS on Wikipedia).

The team here have spent a lot of time this year discussing what the future should hold for Last.fm, and while contemplating raising some additional venture capital we were approached by CBS. As you can imagine, we have been approached numerous times in the past few years from all the usual suspects regarding acquisitions and so on; CBS are one of the few companies who needed no explanation of what we are doing, and we were impressed at how progressive their plans are. This deal with CBS gives us a chance to really make Last.fm shine, and gives us more flexibility than other funding options would for doing all the crazy stuff we’ve had scribbled on whiteboards for years.

CBS understands the Last.fm vision, the importance we place on putting the listener in charge, the vibrant and vocal community, the obsession with music stats, and our determination to offer every song ever recorded.

I’ll try and answer all (reasonable!) questions regarding the deal and what it means for Last.fm. Here are some miscellaneous thoughts upfront:

  • The Last.fm team stays put in London, we’ll grow the company some more here.
  • We will continue to execute our world domination plans – our focus is still music and the surrounding ecosystem. The founders (myself included) are still at the helm.
  • We have more resources at our disposal now, and more clout when it comes to negotiating licensing deals etc.
  • OH NOES UR SELLIN MY SCROBBLES!!1!! — Don’t panic. The openness of our platform and our approach to privacy won’t change.

There is quite a sense of achievement at Last.fm HQ today, we see this is as a huge boost for Last.fm and we are confident that together with CBS we have the wherewithall to change the music industry, and way people interact with music for good. Now we are all going for a slap up vietnamese lunch at the Viet Hoa. We’ll be back in an hour to finish off our facebook app :)

RSS, Your Shoutbox and You

Wednesday, 30 May 2007
by julian
filed under Tips and Tricks
Comments: 7

Are you tired of missing all the prosaic shouts people are leaving in your shoutbox? A couple of weeks ago, our French frontman definitely was. He didn’t hesitate but wrote a Dashboard widget to keep track of them. It gives Mac users a nice way of checking their shouts.

In order to do so, he had to parse the entire page and extract the precious shouts from a giant mess of markup. That wasn’t so nice. And it only worked for Mac users, too. No problem for me, but some Vista-fanboys would go bonkers.

So, from this day on, you may have RSS feeds for every shoutbox you could possibly encounter. All you have to do is go to this page and follow the simple instructions. So basically, just enter this URL: http://tools.microformatic.com/transcode/atom/ hatom/http://www.last.fm/user/USERNAME/shoutbox (You need to remove the space I inserted to make it wrap.)

The URL you have to enter is the URL of the page containing the shoutbox. (Note: for user pages it’s better to use www.last.fm/user/USERNAME/shoutbox as that page is way smaller than your regular user page.)

For those interested in the nitty-gritty details: The shoutboxes have been marked up in a microformat called hAtom. That way, the markup can be very easily parsed and converted to atom or RSS, making your feed reader happy.

Monday Night at Last.fm

Wednesday, 30 May 2007
by elias
filed under Lunch Table
Comments: 24

I think it has been raining in London everyday since I moved here a few weeks ago. Last Monday was no exception, so instead of checking out the beach at Brighton I decided to spend a fun day at work. Monday was also a bank holiday, and at around midnight I was the only one in the office. It was wonderfully quiet and peaceful. My thoughts had deeply sunken into the advantages and disadvantages of different procedures to evaluate computational models of similarity.

At Last.fm we have an IRC channel that we use for internal communications. Everyone logs in wherever they are as long as they have Internet access. Here are some excerpts from our IRC channel from Monday around midnight: (maybe I should add that the line starting with “pub” contains a list of special technical terms that help attract the attention of my colleagues)

<Elias> i think someone just tried to kick the last.fm office door open :-/
<Elias> pub beer porn
<Elias> ...
<Russ> inner one or outer one?
<Elias> I'm inside
<Elias> there was a hell of a noise at the door
<Elias> i went there, saw that part of the door closing system has come off, and there seems to be a hughe crack in the upper part, I'm not sure if that has been there before
<Russ> I don't remember any huge cracks before
<Elias> I guess I should have a look outside? ... are there any weapons around? :-)
<Russ> this is the white one, not the black one right?
<Elias> yes
<Muz> :/
<Russ> there's an electric drill and a pocket knife by my desk

(I’ll skip the advice they gave me on building a fighting robot.)

<Elias> what's the number of the police?
<Elias> i guess i could give them a call and just ask what they recommend?
<Muz> google?
<Russ> you can report crimes online! genius!
<Elias> i tried, but it wasnt the first hit :-)
<Russ> https://online.met.police.uk/
<Russ> Elias: http://www.met.police.uk/hackney/ is the web site
<julian> what's the emergency number in the uk, btw?
<Muz> 999
<Russ> julian: it's 999, heh
<julian> good to know :D
<Russ> 112 also works, I think. Definitely works from mobiles
<Muz> 08 too iirc
<Russ> naaah
<Russ> don't be silly
<Muz> oh?
<Russ> that's french
<Muz> I thought it redirects
<Elias> I'll give them a call and see what they say…
<Russ> Muz: 0845 numbers don't make any sense
<Russ> if that's the case
<Muz> Ahhh, good point
<Elias> duh. 999 doesnt work
<Elias> i get a wrong number signal
<julian> haha
<Russ> wtf
<Muz> lol

I finally got through to the police, they said they’ll send someone over, and then they called back to double-check on the address, and then they called a second time…

<Elias> the police just told me that it was police who did that
<HawkeV> 0-0
<HawkeV> wtf
<Russ> could you ask for it in writing?
<HawkeV> the police broke our door?
<Russ> no
<Elias> she said they had a call earlier saying that someone had collapsed behind the door?!!?
<HawkeV> um…
<HawkeV> so they kicked it once
<HawkeV> then left?
<Russ> the HACKNEY police ∗failed∗ to kick down our door.
<Elias> so they tried to kick the door open and then decided to go away again.
<HawkeV> wtf
<Elias> ??
<Russ> HawkeV: it's fairly sturdy
∗ erikf_ has joined #last.fm
<Elias> i just heard somethihng again…

I went outside to talk to the officers, but there was no one there.

The next day I had a chat with the police. They explained that there was some confusion. There is a building with the same name not too far away. At this other building a lady had collapsed in her flat and her doctor (standing outside the door) had called the police for help to open the door. The police had never been at our office.

Just in case the robbers read this…

Be warned: we are prepared and we got brutal death metal music!!!

If you try this again you’ll be begging for mercy when our speakers blast out the songs by the artist most frequently tagged with BDM!

(And we also got an improved security system now.)