“Audio Scrobbling,” as defined by Last.fm, is the act of submitting to a central database the details of what songs you’ve been listening to (what album, by who and when you listened). Scrobbling to Last.fm is the main reason I use the service these days, especially since it made the internet radio part of it a paid subscription only service for Australia. I think that being able to easily track and visualise my listening history and share that with friends is a great example of the social internet revolution.
There are a number of ways to have your music scrobbled to Last.fm from your Mac. Which one you chose depends on which fits into your music workflow the best.
First, a few words regarding iPod scrobbling. While many of the clients will scrobble what you’ve played on your iPod/iPhone (once you’ve synced your device), Last.fm does not accept scrobbles with a date-time in the past if more recent tracks have already been scrobbled. This means it’s generally not possible to listen to tracks on your device, listen to tracks on your computer and scrobble them, then sync your device and expect the songs previously listened to on the device to then scrobble too. ScrobblePod is the only tool I’ve tried that successfully handles this.
So, without further ado, here are 12 ways to scrobble your music listening habits to Last.fm.
Fully featured, the official client focuses on the Internet radio part of Last.fm, but does scrobble songs played through iTunes as well as picking up what you have listened to on your iPod. If you often use Last.fm for Internet radio, this make the most sense. It will attempt to scrobble iPod tracks played. This official client is free.
The following apps are standalone players, they do not control iTunes and iTunes does not need to be running. They can, however, access your existing iTunes library.
SweetFM is a full Last.fm client which can stream radio as well as scrobble what iTunes is playing. However, you can’t control iTunes with it. iPod scrobbling is not supported. SweetFM is an open-sourced project.
The Deck is a standalone full album player that lets you queue up complete albums and play them in the order you want. The tracks it plays will then be scrobbled. iPod scrobbling is not supported. Deck costs $20, with a trial version available that will randomly pause playing.
Songbird is a full, open-source iTunes replacement that contains a downloadable Last.fm module (this will be downloaded for you when you first start the application). This module will scrobble as well as enable the Internet radio functionality of Last.fm. For a complete review of Songbird see TheAppleBlog’s comprehensive review. Surprisingly, iPod scrobbling is not supported.
Spotify is a cloud-based music service, where you make your music available to yourself anywhere you are. It requires an online account, which might not be available in your country (its not in Australia or the U.S.). iPod scrobbling is not supported.
These applications serve primarily as remote controllers for iTunes, offering alternative ways to play your music, while offering scrobbling functionality as an added bonus.
Synergy presents buttons in the menubar to let you always control iTunes and will scrobble them too. iPod scrobbling is not supported. Synergy costs 5 Euros, but a free trial is available.
CoverSutra is an iTunes HUD based controller that can scrobble for you. iPod scrobbling is not supported. It costs $20 with a free trial available.
Another iTunes helper app, this gives you the ‘Cover Flow’ view as a popup HUD window while scrobbling to Last.fm. iPod scrobbling is not supported. CoverStream costs 15 Euros, and a free trial is available.
Bowtie is a slim remote that offers many visual themes and utilizes lots of keyboard shortcuts, while also scrobbling to Last.fm. iPod scrobbling is not supported. Bowtie is free.
These applications do just one thing, they sit in the background, scrobble whats playing in iTunes and nothing else.
A nice dedicated scrobbler thats small and fast. iPod scrobbling can be turned on and off, and you can specify a specific playlist to use too. It attempts to solve the iPod sync issue by giving an option (enabled by default) to queue submissions if an iPod is mounted, but this just doesn’t work for me. iScrobbler is free.
Audioscrobbler is a fork of the official Last.fm client, released by an ex Last.fm employee. This contains just the iTunes scrobbling parts of the official client. It does not yet handle iPods at all. Audioscrobbler is free.
ScrobblePod is my scrobbler of choice. It has a tiny memory and CPU footprint and stays out of the way. Most importantly it only ever scrobbles after my iPhone has finished syncing with iTunes. This means it cleanly handles all combinations of listening on the device or computer in any order. ScrobblePod is free.
Which scrobbler is your favorite?