On creating a monster

Client Room Radio was something that a group of us started doing in our old office room at Last.fm. I wrote about it once before, but basically it’s a Last.fm radio station built using the music libraries of anyone working in the room, a playlist based on multiple music tastes.

The office layout changed about a month ago now, and we’re no longer in a room together, so for the last few weeks I’ve booked a meeting room and invited the old group of us to colonise it. It’s not as successful at bringing a bunch of us together as the old set-up, but the few times we’ve done it it’s been lovely.

I’m on my own in the room today, and rather than play my library radio I’ve tuned to the radio station generated by our shared Last.fm account. Clientroom was the user we created to stream the stations from, and it’s amassed a diverse library that reflects the shared listening experience of those of us in that room (it also broadcasts what’s playing to Twitter).

It has a history of its own, a catalog of music it’s capable of playing to me, and according to the Last.fm tasteometer our musical similarity is SUPER. And it is an absolute bloody pleasure to listen to. There are fragments of music in here I would simply never have played, given a choice, tracks that I can pin to the likes of Andy or Phil, and new favourite bands I’ve found via Coffey.

But Client Room Radio is made up of people and algorithms, choices and chance. Listening is deeply satisfying because it feels like something we built together. It’s not ‘a 21st century mixtape’ or anything like that, but it is a snapshot of about a dozen people’s lives, timelapsed into something we can return to, forever fresh because it’s driven by data. It feels like something new.

Listen along, if you fancy it.

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