Podfic and Last.fm

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Event: Podficcers find themselves on Last.fm
Date(s): October 2010
Fandom: Podfic
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In October 2010, podfic fandom briefly panicked over concerns that podfics were being uploaded to the music website Last.fm.


Last.fm users download a plugin or use last.fm's music player to allow the site to collect metadata from everything they listen to in order to get targeted music recommendations from the site. This data is all Google-indexed and visible to people who don't have accounts. A few last.fm users had listened to podfics, so all the mp3 ID3 tags of those podfics were grabbed and posted on the site. Some podfic listeners have their own system for organizing files, but others may not change anything, so the metadata on last.fm may represent whatever the podficcer filled in when exporting their file. The number (although not the identities) of listeners/listens is also tracked on the site.

Musicians and labels who register on the site are allowed to upload their own music for streaming.

Pages are automatically generated for each artist, so there are pages for podficcers that include accurate lists of "similar artists" (other podficcers and, depending on how the fields were filled out, fic authors). Rhea314 appears to be the most popular podficcer on Last.fm, with 1,285 plays and 165 listeners.[1] Users are able to edit these pages to fill in additional information, but as of January 2015 it does not look like anyone has done so.

Discovery of Podfic on Last.fm

FayJay initially reported the issue to the Amplificathon community on October 19/20 as a case of archiving without consent. Writing about her discovery of podfic on Last.fm, she commented, "My immediate response, upon realising that my voice, reading explicit porn, was now available on mainstream streaming radio (of the "hey, you liked such-and-such a thing! So we think you'll like Fay's reading of this NC17 fanfic!" variety) was hysteria."[2] A link to buy the mp3, which automatically appears on all song pages, also misled her into thinking that someone on the site could be selling bootlegged podfics. (See Fandom and Profit.)

Podficcers who were unfamiliar with Last.fm were outraged by the supposed uploading and by the exposure. When they realized that no actual podfics were uploaded to the site, only metadata, some people (including FayJay) were relieved. Some who responded to the post reported that they were users of the site and had changed their settings and/or deleted podfic metadata they had accidentally leaked to the site. However, some podficcers were still concerned that their fannish profile being more visible would lead to outing. Mundanes finding NC-17 podfic was particularly concerning. At least one podficcer decided to create a separate podficcing pseud. There was a podficmeta discussion about whether fans' voices would be enough to identify them.


During the discussion, Paraka recalled the experience of vidders with YouTube:

I remember when YouTube first came out. I was vidding a lot more those days and I actually heard about it from a vidder that was freaking out because someone had uploaded her vids there. Vidders were all in a panic that this was going to be this huge threat to vidding that could force us all underground again.

Which, YouTube ended up doing the exact opposite. I know that in my country the government is getting ready to bring forward new copyright law that explicitly legalizes fanvids, being called "the YouTube clause" by everyone. Vidding is actually being helped by YouTube and it's helping vidders too, because vidding is so common that even if my boss or whomever found my vids they would be unlikely to care. Even if it is a slash vid or whatever.

And I have every confidence that podfic will come out of this ok. It can be scary when things change faster than you're ready for but change is going to come and while I can't promise no one will be hurt by it, I think the statistical chance of it happening to you aren't any higher than anything else we do in fandom.[3]

During the December 2014 Goodreads wank, some podficcers noted parallels to the Last.fm incident.

Meta/Further Reading


  1. ^ Rhea314 page on Last.fm as of 12 January 2015.
  2. ^ FayJay. Fandom Etiquette: ur doin it rong., posted to Amplificathon 20 October 2010. (Accessed 12 January 2015.)
  3. ^ paraka. comment on FayJay's post October 20, 2010. (Accessed 12 January 2015.)