Friday, January 25, 2008

How long is the sample, how long is the sample? It soothes my ears, yeah yeah yeah (i.e. my take on the last.fm change)

There has been a lot of talk about the recent change at last.fm, including comments from TechCrunch and everwas (Ian Kennedy). But here's my personal take on the matter, and why it came several years too late for me.

Here's something that I wrote way back on Tuesday, August 31, 2004. To place it into context, I should note that "aurothots" were micro-commentaries on songs that I was writing at the time:

Not an Empoblog Aurothots

I can't write an Aurothots on a song until I've actually heard the entire song. Lyrics here. A tantalizing 30 second snippet here (listen to track 21).

I've heard little snippets of the Beach Boy's Brian Wilson-authored song "Til I Die" several times over the past few years. Now if only it were on a decent album...


The second link in my August 2004 post, which still works today, goes to the Best Buy website, specifically to a two-CD set of the Beach Boys' "Sunflower" and "Surf's Up" albums. Now I'll grant that the price is right (today's price on the two-CD set is $15), but do I really want to buy a CD for just one song? I've made that mistake once, buying a Boys Don't Cry album solely for the song "I Wanna Be A Cowboy," and do not want to make that same mistake again.

Now O, you're saying to yourself, why don't you just buy the single song "Til I Die" via a download? True, I could have done that, but I'm old. The only song that I've ever purchased online was Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." Actually, I copied my daughter's copy of the Nelly/Tim McGraw "Over and Over" song when she bought it, but that's pretty much it.

So I subsisted on that thirty second song sample ad nauseum. Really really. (obscure reference here. Dr. Demento was a Reedie, by the way.)

Brian's back, at least in this post. One day after my August 31 post, I had my Windows Media Player on repeat mode. Later that day I was quoting the lyrics - or at least the lyrices to the thirty-second portion that I was hearing. By October 2004, I was making up a story about what would have happened if I had heard the song upon its release. I made other references to the song on occasion - all based on that thirty-second song sample to which I had become addicted. Full-blown obsession.

Finally, three years later, last.fm offered me the chance to listen to the entire song, and I wouldn't even have to buy it. All that I had to do was add it to my last.fm playlist, wait for it to come up in the random song order, and enjoy the entire song in all its glory. Trouble is, the last.fm random playlist wasn't quite so random, as I observed on November 21, 2007. I said, in part:

I'm not sure how last.fm determines which song should "randomly" come up in your playlist. And this is really bugging me, because I added "Til I Die" to my playlist, and it STILL hasn't come up yet. Argh.

At the time I probably had less than 200 songs in my playlist, but I still kept hoping that the song would come up.

Finally, during the second week of January, the song came up on my last.fm playlist. I was in complete and total bliss for the next several minutes.

But now, last.fm allows us to listen to the full track of almost any song we want - at least up to three times - for free.

Note the word "almost." "Til I Die" is one of the songs that happens to only be available as a 30 second song sample.

It kills my soul.

But I can still hear the song in its entirety, if I want to watch a Cloverfields-like view of the moon through the trees. (embedding disabled by request)

Or I can listen to Jaybird Smith's version. Not too bad, actually. Judge for yourself.



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4 comments:

DAve said...

Surf's Up is an INCREDIBLE album. Do yourself a HUGE favor and go spend the large $$$ and see for yourself. "Til I die" is just one of the MANY amazing songs on this album. Go Get it now!!

Anyone who says it isn't an incredible album has either never heard it or lacks fundamental discernment. De gustibus no disputandem est does not apply here-

Ontario Emperor said...

Unfortunately, I learned three foreign languages during my secondary school and college years, and guess which one I've pretty much completely forgotten? (Now I gotta check Google and Babelfish to see if either offers Latin translation.)

And actually, the issue isn't big bucks (as I noted, you can get a double album with Surf's Up and something else for less than a new CD costs today). The issue is my own inertia.

DAve said...

"In matters of taste there can be no argument"

The Emperor of La Verne ;)

Ontario Emperor said...

Watch out, Emperor Dave. The Foothill Cities Blog may think that you work for the San Bernardino Sun.