The desktop application scans your music collection and automatically categorises/tags that tracks based on Last.fm’s now established knowledge base.
Once it has completed the scanning which takes between 5-30 mins (depending on the size of your music collection) you’ll be able to select one or tags from your database of music and hit play. For example, you may be in the mood for a little chillout hiphop, so you select “hiphop” and “chillout” followed by “play” – pretty straight forward.
Last.fm have made clear that it “strictly a tech demo” so expect is to be very basic at the moment. However, I wonder whether this would have been better integrated into itunes itself so we could at least rate tracks for example.
What’s cool? Well, it works well and has already found tracks of mine that I love but didn’t know I had. I love the basic concept of being able to select multiple tags and it feels great to be able to be able pause tracks unlike Last.fm radio online (!). Also, using last.fm’s official desktop app – you are able to “love” tracks but there isn’t a built in “love” option in the app itself.
All in all, it’s a start and definitely gives you an decent alternative to iTunes “genius”.
You can download the application for mac or windows here.