‘Scrobbles’ meaning and connection to Spotify and Last FM explained

Bruno Cooke December 5, 2022
‘Scrobbles’ meaning and connection to Spotify and Last FM explained
Man in his 50s relaxing at home, with laptop and eyes closed, enjoying music, escapism, satisfaction, happiness. Downloaded from Getty Images Creative.

Featured

A tweet about a girl using Shazam to identify songs before playing them “at zero volume […] so she could get the scrobbles” has gone viral – but what is its meaning, exactly, and what does it have to do with Spotify?

Internet parlance is full of new words. The names of apps and pieces of software get denominalized all the time – “Shazaming” and “Googling” only entered the Internet user’s vernacular in recent years. 

And scrobbles are no different. At least in the case of the contemporary meaning of the word.

So, what is a scrobble (or what are scrobbles, or what is scrobbling?), and what does it have to do with Shazam, Last FM and/or Spotify?

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

What are ‘scrobbles’? Meaning explained

Wiktionary’s entry on scrobble defines it – in its noun form – as a datum collected for the purpose of sharing one’s media consumption habits online.

In its verb form, it means to “to publish” one’s media consumption habits online. As in, to the Internet via software, in order to “track when and how often certain items are played.”

You can understand why the action of “scrobbling” has come up now, following the release of Spotify Wrapped and amid conversations about year end statistics summaries

Even if Spotify doesn’t use the word “scrobbles” to describe the data it collects on user’s listening habits, or to refer to the act of gathering such data, the crux of its Wrapped feature is essentially the same.

Last FM, scrobbles and Spotify

Last FM appears to have invented the word “scrobble” to refer to the way it records its listeners’ listening habits. When you – a Last FM user – listen to a song on the platform, it scrobbles that song and adds it to your account.

It saves such information as the song’s title, its artist, its genre, and when you listened to it. However, as some have observed, clicking on a song doesn’t always record it.

Different Last FM-connected apps have different requirements when it comes to scrobbling. You might have to listen to at least half the song for the software to consider scrobbling it. Or if you pause it midway for too long, this might stop Last FM from scrobbling a song.

And it’s not only Last FM listeners that use “scrobblers.” Apps that connect to Last FM also bear the name.

And increasingly, like Amazon Music or Apple Music subscribers talking about their services offering a yearly “Wrapped,” users of apps besides Last FM are starting to use the word “scrobbling” to refer to the process of keeping track of their listening habits.

Copenhagen, Denmark – June 21, 2013: The four webpages Spotify, Amazon, Last.fm and emusic opened on a computer screen with blue background. The webpages are found on a list of the worlds most popular music download web pages.

Can you scrobble your Spotify music with Last FM?

Yes. You can scrobble everything you listen to on Spotify from any device, using Last FM.

Simply go to Last FM and log in. Then, hover over your profile image in the top right hand side of the screen, and click Settings. Then click Applications and, next to Spotify Scrobbling, click Connect.

This should allow Last FM to access your Spotify account, and let it scrobble away to its heart’s content.

To disconnect the Spotify Scrobbler, simply go through the same steps, but click Disconnect instead.

Other ways to scrobble, other meanings of scrobbling

Connecting your Last FM account to your Spotify account means the former will scrobble the latter. If you want to see “cool graphs” that visualize your listening habits now, however, you might be interested in trying Scrobblify.

Man in his 50s relaxing at home, with laptop and eyes closed, enjoying music, escapism, satisfaction, happiness

“Scrobblify lets you retroactively scrobble your past 2 weeks of plays from spotify straight to Last FM.” Click here to find out how.

It’s worth noting that one of the earliest written records fo the word “scrobble” is in the 1927 book The Midnight Folk, by John Masefield. In that, to it is a verb meaning “to waylay, kidnap or steal.”

But the meaning of scrobble in the context of the tweet mentioned above is the one discussed here. And the girl the Twitter user is talking about, who would Shazam songs and play them silently on her phone “so she could get the scrobbles,” was simply trying to manipulate the software so as to make it look like she was more of a habitual music listener than she really was. 

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.