On Friday night a technology blog called Techcrunch posted a vicious and completely false rumour about us: that Last.fm handed data to the RIAA so they could track who’s been listening to the “leaked” U2 album.
I denied it vehemently on the Techcrunch article, as did several other Last.fm staffers. We denied it in the Last.fm forums, on twitter, via email – basically we denied it to anyone that would listen, and now we’re denying it on our blog.
According to Ars Technica, even the RIAA don’t know where the rumour came from. The Ars Technica article is worth a read by the way, as it explains how the album was leaked in the first place by U2’s record label.
All the data and technical side of Last.fm is hosted in London and run by the team here. We keep a close eye on what data mining jobs we run, not because we’re paranoid the RIAA is trying to infiltrate us, but because time on our Hadoop Cluster (where the data lives) is so precious and we have lots of important jobs that run every day. It’s simply impossible for anyone to run a job without the team here noticing.
When you signup to Last.fm and scrobble what you listen to, you are trusting us with your listening data. We take this very seriously. The old-timers on Last.fm who’ve been with us since the early days can attest to this – we’ve always been very open and transparent about how your data is used. This hasn’t changed. We never share personally identifiable data such as email and IP addresses. The only type of data we make available to labels and artists, other than what you see on the site, is aggregate data of listeners and number of plays.
Artists and labels can login to our MusicManager site to upload new content and update their catalogue. The MusicManager is also where artists and labels can see statistics on how popular their content is with Last.fm users.
If you were U2’s record label and logged in to the MusicManager today, you would see this:
…and you could pat yourself on the back for a successful album launch. All the controversy and press coverage surrounding the leaked release caused an obvious spike in the number of people listening to U2 recently.
So do us a favour – if you see people spreading the rumour, refer them to this blog post and mention you heard from a friend that “Techcrunch are full of shit.”