Audioscrobbler was, at first, a curiosity for me. I downloaded a plugin, and it gave me stats about the music I listen to. It could also spit out an RSS file of what I’ve been listening to in the recent past, which was also quite cool.

It suddenly got cooler.

Audioscrobbler has rebranded itself, and can now give even more statistics. Click the “recommendations” link, and will look at your favorite artists and give you some other artists you might want to check out. (For me, suggests The White Stripes, Wilco, Weezer, Badly Drawn Boy, and Ben Folds Five, among others. I’m already a White Stripes fan, but I don’t listen to them much anymore — doesn’t know that, though.)

The absolute coolest part of the new, though, is the free player. Without paying for a premium subscription, you can download the player, click the “Start Radio” link, and select “neighbour radio” to listen to music selected from your Neighbours, people who share similar musical tastes with you. Plus, the Player transmits the songs you’ve heard, so that they count in your own Recent Tracks and get added to your stats. If I thought shuffle play on my iPod was sweet, this kicks it up a notch. BAM!

But wait! There’s more! On certain artists’ info pages, you can click a “preview track” button to listen to a stream of 30-second previews of the artists’ songs. Very cool feature, and it saves the time of going and searching for the most popular song by an artist and downloading it and deciding whether it rocks or sucks before downloading (er, I’m sorry, I meant buying) the entire album.

No, I was not paid for this plug. I’ve just enjoyed discovering this new aspect of my cute little Audioscrobbler. I mainly use Audioscrobbler / for finding new music, and this makes the process much more streamlined.

There are some bugs with the system, though. The Player is still a touch new, and the buffer stutters sometimes, but I haven’t had too much trouble with it and it’s starting to bug me, especially when it totally stops playing and I have to relaunch the app. Also, the Audioscrobbler plugin for iTunes doesn’t upload the play count from my iPod — which is unfortunate, as I listen to most of my music on my iPod these days (several hours at work vs. a couple hours at home).

It’s fun, though. Go sign up. I’ll be your friend, and it’ll be keen.