What is Last.fm?

One of the new online features we've introduced for this year's festival is a chart of the most popular tracks by many of the artists appearing at Cambridge. You'll find these tailored charts on the right hand side of each artist page - for example The Imagined Village, Seth Lakeman, and Billy Bragg.

These charts are all generated by a music website called Last.fm. It can be a bit baffling to first-time visitors, so here's a quick guide to help you get used to some of site's many features for all music fans.

Last.fm describes itself as "a service that keeps track of what music you listen to, and then produces a large number of features personalised to you. You can use Last.fm to listen to music, find out about artists you may like, other people with similar music taste, gigs in your local area."

Listen online

Listeners in the UK, Germany and North America can use Last.fm's free service to search for music by any artist and listen to many of the tracks in full, or whole albums. You can listen to each track up to three times in full. After that, you can still access 30" clips. The site has signed agreements with four major record labels and thousands of indie labels, and they describe themselves as "the world's biggest free online music service."

Every time you listen to a track, the artist gets paid a share of the site's advertising revenue. Unsigned artists can upload their own music and get paid every time someone listens to their tracks via the site.

Track Your Listening

If you listen to a lot of music on a computer or portable player, you can get even more out of Last.fm by registering and setting up your own free music profile page. A small software download tracks your listening patterns, and updates your Last.fm profile page with details of every track you listen to.

Over time, your page will list your favourite artists and tracks according to how many times you have listened to each of them over the previous week, month or year.

We have a profile page for Radio 2 that lists all the tracks played by our studio computer system. This page gives you a snapshot of which tracks and artists have been played the most during recent weeks and months.

Other social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and facebook also allow you to listen to music online.

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