I’ve been looking for a good scrobbler for a long time. There are a lot of them out there, but they all seemed too bulky or had too many features or, worse yet, not enough for what I wanted. All I want out of a Last.FM scrobbling app is something that pushes the songs I want to my profile and leave out everything else. A slim profile doesn’t hurt, either.
Along came Melo. It’s boasts just about the smallest profile I’ve seen for a scrobbler; all told, it’s the size of my pinky finger. Can a tiny app handle all my music without getting in the way?
Scrobbling with Melo
Melo is just a little swirl that lives in your menubar and scrobbles, or publishes, all the music and really anything else you’re listening to on your Last.FM profile. When you launch Melo for the first time, you’ll have to grant it access to your Last.FM account. You’ll be directed to a Last.FM login page, but once you’ve given Melo access, you’ll have to return to the app to see any change.
Melo will refresh and explain that it will be scrobbling whatever you play on your Mac. The only way to know this is happening, though, is to check in on your Last.FM profile page periodically, which I did. The last few songs were there with roughly the correct timestamp, my current song was front and center, a “listening” icon denoting that it was currently playing on my Mac, and it only took a couple of seconds and a refresh for the current song to update.
What Else Can it Do?
Melo’s functionality beyond scrobbling is pretty limited, and that’s intentional. Melo is meant to be a small app that does one thing well. You can get a few things done with Melo, though. Clicking the Melo menubar swirl and choosing the heart will “love” the current song on Last.FM, and selecting the Last.FM icon will load your profile in your default browser.
You can also create some pretty specific filters to prevent scrobbling, too. Melo comes with the default voice memo and audiobook filters, and I added to that a podcast filter, because the three people I’m friends with on Last.FM don’t need to know as much about my NPR addiction. There are also filters for album and artist name, so if you want to disguise all of your Korean pop or just find it embarrassing you listen to so much Arcade Fire, you can hide all of that from Melo, and thus from Last.FM and the internet.
Scrobbling from Devices
I’m really concerned, probably more than is remotely warranted, about getting all of the songs I listen to on my iPhone onto my Last.FM. Luckily, Melo has this in hand, too. When you sync any iOS device or an Apple TV, Melo scrobbles everything you’ve listened to since you’re last sync. And unlike scrobbling from the Mac, tracks scrobbled after a sync show up almost immediately on Last.FM.
Scrobbling from devices isn’t perfect, though. The developer says in the FAQ that music has to be synced to the device in iTunes; scrobbling won’t work with Melo if you manually manage music on your device. However, poking around Melo’s Twitter, a few people have reported scrobbling working with manually managed libraries on older versions of iOS. The takeaway from this is that the ability to scrobble may vary by device, and your mileage may vary.
Get the Bug Spray
The first time I opened up Melo’s preferences, I set it to always open at login. So far, that’s never happened. The developer explains this as an issue with Lion, and it’s easy enough to work around if you add Melo to your Login Items in System Preferences. However, if I have to make my way into System Prefs, there’s not much point in having a toggle for auto open in the app. That the app has bugs in Lion falls flat with me; this kitty’s almost a year old and we’re moments away from Mountain Lion. Shouldn’t Melo already be built for Lion?
Significantly worse than an automatic open that doesn’t open automatically is a scrobbling app that’s not scrobbling at all. The first time I tried out Melo, nothing showed up right away on Last.FM, and I had to keep refreshing to see a change. After about fifteen minutes, though, there were the first round of songs I’d listened to. The several minutes lag didn’t really affect the functionality, if I’m honest; scrobbling isn’t a speed sport, but I didn’t get the currently listening icon, either. Still, since this was my first time with the app, I thought this was how it was meant to work, and it was pretty disappointing.
I’ve tried a few different scrobbling apps, and nothing ever stuck for me. Either the scrobbled too much, like all of my super boring talk radio podcasts, or they tried to be too much, giving me access to individualized radio stations. They ended up trying to be and do so many things, they couldn’t do anything right.
Once I got past the bugs, I liked Melo a lot. It’s trying to do one thing well, but so far it’s doing that one things sort of okay. With some updates to address these issues, though, this will be a solid little app. At the end of the day, its small profile and insanely useful filters are all a scrobbling app needs to be and more than I expected.