Last.fm has a huge database of music. It has album artwork, tons of artists and it’s really easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, it isn’t as “listenable” as it used to be, as subscriptions have become the way of the world, and along with the subscriptions, users from fewer and fewer countries are able to stream music from it. But it’s still so easy to find what you’re looking for!
Fortunately, for people who like the ease of use Last.fm offers, but want to be able to use that to find music they can listen to right in the browser, a new Google Chrome extension is available. Called Last.fm Free Music Player, this extension is a bit misnamed, in my view, but makes it simple to play almost anything you can find on the Last.fm website.
I have to admit that the first couple times I tried out the Last.fm Free Music Player, I was under the mistaken impression that it was allowing me to stream Last.fm music. Not so. What’s actually happening is that, first of all, the extension places little “Play” arrows beside each song. Click that arrow and a pop-up notification bubble appears, and the song starts playing. If the song is in a playlist or album, the entire bunch of songs will play. Click the new Last.fm icon in the toolbar and you can see the playlist, pause, go to the next song, any song in the playlist or change the volume. You can put the playlist into shuffle mode, play straight through it, or repeat songs if you like. And these are songs, not 30-second previews.
But how is this possible? I did a little looking around, and it turns out that Last.fm Free Music Player is actually searching through the Vkontakte social media website in Russia. Vkontakte is very much like Facebook, in that it allows users (Vkontakte currently has more than 91 million of them), to post pictures, videos and music, and all of it can generally be accessed via simple search methods. When you click the Play button on the Last.fm website, the Last.fm Free Music Player searches Vkontakte (or you can also use vk.com, vpleer.ru, prostopleer.com or grooveshark.com if you like), then plays back what it finds and is able to stream.
It’s a pretty slick system, although my first thought was that there had to be a large bit of copyright infringement, first because I’m listening to entire songs and albums, and not least because it’s all coming from a Russian website, and frankly, there’s a lot of bad blood between Russia and the rest of the world in regards to music copyright.
Regardless, the Last.fm Free Music Player extension definitely works. You can turn off the extensions if you want, and if there is no song available on the sites it is able to search, the Last.fm Free Music Player will attempt to find a preview for you to listen to instead. You can actually login to Last.fm if you have an account, and everything the extension plays will be scrobbled, if you like keeping and sharing accurate listening stats.
So… there it is. Last.fm Free Music Player. There’s a whole lot of music out there, just waiting to be listened to, and Last.fm and this extension make it really simple to do so.
Last fm free music player Google Chrome extension page
Last fm free music player blog
Last.fm free music player group at Last.fm
Info on Vkontakte (via Wikipedia)