Big News From Last.fm
Last.fm users may have noticed that the 2-toned indicators of whether a song could be streamed in its entirety or for only 30 seconds changed colors today. The small aesthetic shift is a sign of a much larger one announced on the Last.fm Blog today:
Something we’ve wanted for years—for people who visit Last.fm to be able to play any track for free—is now possible. With the support of the folks behind EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner—and the artists they work with—plus thousands of independent artists and labels, we’ve made the biggest legal collection of music available to play online for free
In shades of Zune, after you stream a song 3 times, you will get a message about subscribing. Last.fm’s subscription status, which once offered special features worth subscribing for or at least instilled a sense of supporting an indie upstart but which came to be of all but useless, is also being revamped:
The soon-to-be announced subscription service will give you unlimited plays and some other useful things.
And finally, artists will be paid each time a song streams. Artists can upload their own music and be paid directly.
Monetizing streamed plays means that artists whose music endures will continue to be paid over the long haul, not just in initial sales. It also creates a strange incentive to subscribe and listen to their streams even if one owns an album — if I listen to my own copy, they don’t get paid, but if I listen to their copy, they do.