Last.fm Suspends Three Subscriber Radio Stations
Due to the complex and intensive process of licensing music, Last.fm is discontinuing several of their subscriber-only stations. As of November 17, 2010 users will no longer be able to stream lists of their loved tracks, ones they have chosen for a playlist, or those they have tagged.
Users will still have access to a list of their loved tracks, playlists, and personal tags, as well as, their ability to listen to global tag stations.
Last.fm is offering a refund to disappointed subscribers. Under these terms, the team at the site explains, “if your subscription started before we announced these changes and ends after the transition, you may be eligible for a refund.”
For more information click here.
Seriously… Why does the music industry let such a great platform die :-\
First they took away the free Last.fm (except in US/Germany/UK) and now this. Crap.
Imagine if they actually provided an awesome service; how much interesting data you could mine and in what ways you could market stuff to users… So amazing, but the big 4 would rather make it harder to innovate. Don’t touch that status quo.
Licensing again! One could speculate that the point of music licensing is to guarantee that no digital music service will satisfy consumers. Hard to imagine a business which is going to succeed by dis-empowering the customers.
Pirates for the win!! “The future of music is all pirate, all criminal, all the time.”
Bas, Last.fm has been around for some number of years trying to mine data and market stuff to users and it just doesn’t cover the costs. Some think that the most valuable music properties in the world along with every other musical property should be made available for nothing, which is what a tech company can afford to pay after they pay for their own staff and lawyers, bandwidth and servers, etc – it’s music like water theory. The problem is, only the aggregator makes money from this model and it dilutes the value of music by not forcing companies and users to pick out and pay a fair price for some of the hottest musical properties rather than all of them. From the musician’s standpoint, it might be better for the big labels to run their own paid streaming service exclusively and stop licensing to 3rd party tech companies. Exclusivity raises the value of music and the businesses that pay for the privilege along with a host of side benefits relating to ad and fan control.
wallow-T, the point of licensing is to make money for the artist. They aren’t selling toilet paper; they’re selling music and there’s no reason why the broadcasting community can figure out how to pay for it but the tech community cannot. Last.fm is in a tough spot right now because they are in competition with a major free site that offers all the hottest music and videos, makes money hand over fist and charge nothing to listen or view the entire song. I’m not talking about a pirate site, I’m talking about Google’s YouTube.
Cathleen, without looking up the numbers: the amounts which over-the-air broadcasting pays for licensing is a pittance, compared to what is demanded of digital media.
“The point of licensing is to make money for the artist.” Hardly anybody believes that any more. Not much money to be made when the music startups keep falling like dominos, and the venture capitalists are fed up with the entire field.
The licensing demands have brought us to a point where there will only be a handful of authorized channels for bringing music to the audience: Apple, Amazon, maybe YouTube — none of which depend on music, all of which can use music as a loss leader. Beyond that — anybody else interested in retailing music / listens has been pounded into irrelevance by licensing demands. The future is all pirate, because only the pirates are meeting the users at their price point.
Wallow T, Believe it or not, licensing does make money for the artist and the producers and the songwriters. If the future of music is all pirate i guarantee you their will be no more music. Free does not cover the costs to make and market music.
I think everyone’s raised some great points. I definitely think that music companies could be working with services like Last.FM a lot more instead of playing a zero-sum game.
I don’t think pirating music is the answer, though. I think that the huge pirate “market” simply illustrates a need for a new distribution model.
Companies like Last.FM make (made?) it easy to listen to songs you love and discover new ones to obsess over.
I don’t think people want that experience for free, I think they want to feel like they’re paying a fair price for it based on use.
Personally, I don’t like paying the same for a song I’ll listen to a few times as I would pay for a song that I’ll listen to continuously.
Realistically, the music industry is a huge beast. It will take a lot of time and energy to change direction. I think these changes are starting to take place, but unfortunately some of the best ideas on how to approach music (like Last.FM) will probably suffer/disappear long before the industry finally comes around.
Which will be just in time for the next big change. 😉
I hope Last.FM pulls through this and keeps being a player in the future of music distribution. I for one intend to keep subscribing. Now more than ever they need the support of those who think the standard of music distribution needs to change.
Sorry Wallow-T, but licensing is much more complex than that and the cost is quite high. Even posting the text of lyrics has to be licensed. If you play an FM radio in a public establishment, this actually requires a license, or you could be fined 1000’s of dollars. Start researching PRS, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC – Lastfm are answering to all of them. All the while, they also must pay a royalty to each independent music artist, whos songs are played in their radios. PLUS, they have 100’s of side deals with record labels who negotiate even ‘higher’ royalty charges from Lastfm radio plays.
The ‘big three’ radios we lost at Lastfm, were slightly higher licensing costs, than simple random radio, while being barely below on-demand licensing costs.
We members of Lastfm, have actually found a somewhat tedious work around, that is allowing us to still play all three of those lost stations: I have a tutorial for how it works, posted in my Lastfm journals. Search Lastfm>members>CrybKeeper.
I am a music publicist(fighting for the little guys). I also help license music for the musicians I work for and you may be surprised what a music license on just one 3 minute track will cost an interested broadcaster – We are talking tens of thousands of dollars here. Now imagine Lastfm, trying to handle this for 13 million different songs, registered with varying copy protection laws, from 200 different countries?
Mog.com are on-demand licensed, all-access music site, but they charge all listeners 5 dollars a month and can do this, because they are only licensed in one country -USA. This is the same for many on-demand music sites, who keep it affordable, by restricting themselves to just one country – We7 in the United Kingdom answers to only PRS, while Pandora in USA only answers to ASCAP and BMI. Lastfm answer to all of the collection agencies in the world, so they can compete in a global market and offer the largest music library on Earth.
Lastfm have less than 100,000 paying subscribers and are primarily supported by advertising to the other 36 million non-paying members.
Global bandwidth costs are quite expensive as well. This is much more costly than it would be for an FM radio station, that only broadcasts less than 50 miles radius.
To sum it up – Lastfm can make much more money off of non-paying members who watch and listen to their commercials 🙁
It’s a sad situation really, but if anyone could find just the proper solution, maybe we could get things back. We at Lastfm, discussed raising the subscription price to 5 or 6 dollars a month, but due to Lastfm not having enough subscribing(paying) members, this still woudn’t cover the licensing.
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