I really like last.fm. It’s a free streaming radio site where you rate song you hear, in a thumbs up, thumbs down sort of way. As you rate more and more songs, the content getting streamed to you gets tailored to your tastes.

And, dude, I’m hearing some really good music. So good it distracts me from work. I click over to the last.fm client. I click on the artist and song links. I look them up on wikipedia. I search for their lyrics on line. I do image searches to see band pics and album cover art. Seriously, I haven’t enjoyed listening to music this much in years.

I’ve even – shocker – bought music based on what I’ve heard on last.fm.

But only a couple. Most music is beyond my grasp, for two reasons:

Most labels are RIAA members, and I’ve sworn off buying anything from an RIAA member. Everytime I’m thinking about buying a disc, I look up the label and see if they are on RIAA Member List (1). If they’re on that list, they don’t get my money.

It’s bittersweet. It’s good music, but I just can’t bring myself to support the RIAA anymore. I wish there were an effective way to communicate lost sales to these bands and labels, to encourage them to disassociate themselves from the RIAA.

Another reason I don’t buy some music is because it simply isn’t available in the U.S.

It’s no surprise to me that I don’t like mainstream music in the U.S. I rarely listen to commericial radio anymore (thanks ClearChannel!). But I have learned that I like a lot of European bands – bands that I’d never even heard of before because their discs are not distributed or promoted in the U.S.

Last.fm introduced me to them. I look them up on Amazon and many of them are only available as imports, usually costing $25 or for a single disc of music – sometimes over $50 for one disc! While I have no moral objects to buying these discs, since they are not part of the RIAA as far as I know, I still can’t bring myself to shell out that much money for a single disc. I’m not made of money.

Why aren’t these bands available in America, as a matter of course, at ‘standard’ prices? I dunno. Pressing CDs is pretty cheap nowadays.

This is all very disappointing. The Amerian music industry is broken. I want to spend money on music now, with just two principles – the artist must not be associated with and RIAA label, and the music must be reasonably priced.