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.

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Comments (2) to “Big News From Last.fm”

  1. As a subscriber, I’m curious the “other useful things.” I’ve had a paid account since day one, which gives me access to tag stations and whatnot. Is it different for non-subscribers?

  2. The deal for artists is for 10% of net ad revenue on pages where the plays occur, which is then paid out to either the band, label, or their collection society, depending on what arrangements the band/artist has already made. I’ve had serious tech issues with the site in the past six months (database glitches – in which the state for some artist catalogues reverts to some time several months ago, unpredictably). I think with these new terms (only 10%?? when we do most of the work driving traffic to CBS’ pages???), I might be about to abandon last.fm.