I’m a longtime Launch.com devotee. Just check out my station. Before I joined the iPod ranks a couple of years ago, Launch was the soundtrack of my workday. I discovered so much good music — Carbon Leaf, Rachael Yamagata, Stereophonics, Dubstar, newer Los Lobos, Blue Man Group, Hayseed Dixie, newer Dylan, Mary Lou Lord, newer Big Country, some Jonatha Brooke — and some Chris Rock and Steve Martin comedy bits.
I’ve listened less at work these days. My job is a little more social than it used to be, and for the moments I need to crank up the volume and ignore my co-workers’ incessant yammering on movies, I have the iPod.
So I’ve been thinking of cancelling my $3/month subscription to Launch — you can use it for free, but I pay to get it without ads. Mrs. MMM and I are fanatical about keeping subscription costs low. Many of our magazines are freebies, including the two I get for networking through MediaBistro. We do NOT get HBO, so don’t ask us about The Sopranos.
Yahoo! also isn’t doing much to develop the Launch service. I haven’t noticed a new feature in, oh, three years or so. They’re focused on developing Yahoo! Music, which puzzles me. (Pay $6/month to listen to music on my computer but not my iPod? Where do I sign up?!)
And I’ve noticed Last.fm widgets popping up everywhere. Curious, I checked it out with Wikipedia — the 2007 equivalent of asking a neighbor — and I was impressed with what I read.
I signed up for it, and … I’m not really impressed.
I’m using the free service, and it seems I have to pay $3/month just to bring it up to the level of Launch. And I’d still miss a few features such as song rankings. Yes, Last.fm has “love” and “ban,” but there’s nothing in between. Launch gives you a number ranking and sets your playlist according to your preferences. You can even set up a couple of different “stations,” some ignoring your rankings and some relying on them almost exclusively, though that may be a subscriber-only feature.
I’ve also found it’s a good way to check out a new album. When Carbon Leaf and Paul McCartney released albums in the past couple of years, I ranked the artist and the album 100, guaranteeing I’d hear a couple of songs in a couple of typical listening hours.
Last.fm seems a lot less interactive. Sure, you can share your preferences with others, but Launch also has that. (They’re called “influencers.”) I haven’t figured out how to do anything other than naming an artist and hearing similar artists. Even that’s a little sketchy — when I entered “Rolling Stones,” my playlist was stuck in the ’60s. What about the new Stones stuff?
So, Last.fm users, what do you like about it? What am I doing wrong? I’m sure I can grow to like it, but is it worth canceling Launch to rely on this instead?
And have you guys ever considered Launch?
One thought on “Launch vs. Last”
Try Pandora. It’s free, you can create any number of stations, its catalog is deep, and its suggestions are uncanny. Put it a few representative artists and it will play back your record collection– with a few new suggestions thrown in for good measure.