Launch vs. Last

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?

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One Response to Launch vs. Last

  1. Anonymous says:

    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.

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