My experience matches yours on the audio-scrobbler. Last.fm is the one place in which I check out what people hear on their scrobble playlists, to learn about new artists.
i also find that last.fm is better than worlds of self-promotion when it comes to getting listeners for my own work. I find people here there and yon listen to me via that service.
Remember when one read Trouser Press or Creem to find music to try?
One read a review and then one bought the record, largely because the reviewer said “sounds like x” but sometimes because the reviewer “sounds like nothing you ever heard before’. I don’t remember a negative review being a deal-killer nor a positive reviewer being a religious conversion. It was all about the style and the sense of the moment.
As a young teen, we all went one better. Lisa Robinson’s “rock scene” magazine was out when i was 13 or 14 or 15 or so. This was an amazing magazine–black and white pictures of unsigned and barely-signed NY bands. One read there about bands one could not buy–early Television, early Ramones, Wayne/Jayne County, Talking Heads. One became a fan of bands from text. What an ephemeral, wonderful thing–to love a sound that one has heard only in print.
Now, you can play the track on last.fm, or hear it on pandora, or even just download it from a netlabel, all without violating anyone’s rights.
A puzzle: I listen to last.fm and never have trouble finding things to hear.
I subscribe to emusic and always delay and debate what to buy with my
35 or so credits. The only reviews I consistently read are in Gramophone, and yet I never buy those reviewed works at all. They just help me learn and think.
I have a friend with great musical taste who posts box.net playlists of her favorite tracks. She likes great stuff, but I never want to listen to tracks
except through properly licensed ways of doing things. Besides, I’d rather she say to her friends ‘listen to this great song, it matters to me” rather than “here’s 15 tracks on this theme”. But with her tastes and other friends and strangers’ tastes, I’ll delightedly look at their last.fm scrobble, and pick and choose and enjoy.