After the demise of Pandora‘s services here in the UK, it took me a long time to cotton-on that there was a home-grown alternative…Last.fm which, like Pandora, helps you to discover new music. The mechanisms that Pandora and Last.fm utilise for pattern-matching and discovering new music may differ but both are very useful services and I don’t doubt that there may be other services out there working on similar principles.
As soon as I discovered what Last.fm is and that they offered free services to the UK I was very interested indeed. And then I was very excited when I found out that Last.fm music streaming was available on Squeezebox and that audioscrobbling was available. So I immediately set up my Squeeze Center and SqueezeBox to make use of the Last.fm services.
In discussion with one of my friends who uses an Xbox running xbmc media centre software, we found that Last.fm was available within xbmc. And it worked fine too. I also use xbmc but running on a Windows Vista machine which I use as a media centre (I don’t actually use the built-in Vista Media Centre). I soon had my media centre PC running Last.fm as the HD TV display and user-interface are a bit more user-friendly than the displays on the SqueezeBox. Of course using the HD TV and the xbmc do consume a bit more electricity but it is useful to be able to switch between SqueezeBox and xbmc.
Whilst I was setting up Last.fm for the xbmc, I had a look at Spotify which is basically an online music-on-demand service with a huge catalogue. And in the UK, Spotify offer a free service supported by minimum advertising. You have to download the Spotify client (currently Windows and Mac) but there is discussion that it may become available on the SqueezeBox. The Spotify client can audioscrobble to Last.fm so that was pretty neat too. I actually run the Spotify client on the Vista-based media centre PC (which also has xbmc and SqueezeCenter) but I control it remotely using UltraVNC…I probably need to get a good wireless media centre keyboard to control the media centre. I previously had no need for a keyboard as my Logitech Harmony 885 universal remote control did it all…but now I need a keyboard and mouse to control the Spotify client. Looking forward to Spotify becoming available on the SqueezeBox platform and I also dream of xbmc integration too.