When I was in fifth grade, the hot social network was Google Buzz. If you remember Google+, Google’s attempt at making a social network that could rival Facebook or Twitter, this was its predecessor. From what I remember, it was a pretty basic social network, with options to post/repost and comment statuses, photos, and videos, as well as follow people. I don’t think it ever was hugely popular (especially with kids) but for some reason, it really took off at my middle school.
My Google Buzz account, now existing as a PDF in the Google Drive of my old email, was a weird moment of my life that few probably relate to. There’s nothing similar to it. I also haven’t used in years, but if Google Buzz was redesigned and enabled again, I doubt I would use it. I know the layout and functionalities would have changed so much that it just wouldn’t feel the same. It could never compete with the period of my life when I thought it was great. This is similar to how many Internet users feel about Last.fm.
Last.fm is an online music database tracing its roots to 2002. During the mid-to-late 2000s, it was hugely popular: it offered a free radio streaming service, a list of everything a user listened to, and a heavy social focus, with components such as a friends list, ability to make groups, message other users, and share information on the user’s personal profile including a list of concerts they had been to and widgets for their Facebook and MySpace accounts. For a brief period, it was a great way for users to find friends and romantic partners with their music taste.
But after being accused in 2009 by TechCrunch of storing the data of users who had listened to U2’s No Line on the Horizon before it was released and giving it to the RIAA, it lost many of its devoted users. Soon afterward, around the turn of the decade, it started charging fees for the streaming service in various countries before disabling it entirely in 2014. The website was redesigned, integrating with Spotify and disabling the Music Manager feature that allowed artists and labels to directly upload songs, and it continued to lose its many users. In 2019, it had an Alexa rank of 1,487.
Since I was so young in its heyday, I barely knew what Last.fm was until the end of 2017. My friend and I like a lot of the same music and she told me I should get it after wanting to see a more accurate list of songs I had listened to than what was in my Spotify Top 100 songs of 2017. I immediately thought it was great and linked it up with Spotify so it “scrobbled” everything I listened to.
Each week, there was a weekly report with my top songs, albums, artists, and genres of the past week. I could see those same stats for each month, year and all time, as well as compare what I listened to with any other user. I had no idea what it once was and didn’t really understand why no one else I knew used it.
Two years later, I now know it’s not some little known platform but one past its peak. I don’t check it quite as much, but it contains much more data on my favorite music and how it has changed (a bit) after using it for a few years.
Last.fm may not be the thriving musical social network it once was, but for anyone interested in the trends of what they have listened to over time or seeking a little more information than Spotify Wrapped, I highly suggest getting it and connecting it to your Spotify. It’s a unique tool that can create a full history of your music taste over time, and you can check it out whenever you’re in the mood. It may not have the social capabilities it once did, but it still allows the user to see everything their friends listen to, which even Spotify Recent Activity sometimes fails to do.
However, just as I probably wouldn’t use Google Buzz if they brought it back, I think this may be harder for people that used it in the 2000s, since it is a shadow of its former self. In my opinion, it is a shadow worth noticing, especially if you haven’t used it before. I would recommend it to any music lover who hasn’t tried it out before.