Last.fm to severely curtail its online radio

Paul Maloney
December 13, 2012 - 3:15pm

CBS Interactive-owned music service Last.fm has announced it will shut down its online radio service in all but eight countries, "due to licensing restrictions."

While U.S., UK, and German listeners will still be able to use the Last.fm radio service free via the website, radio via the Last.fm desktop application in those nations will become solely a subscription-based service (ad-supported free radio via apps had been available to users in those countries). Mobile access to Last.fm radio (since April 2011) has been subscription-only, and will remain so.

Elsewhere in the world, Last.fm's radio service has been subscription-only since 2009. It will remain so for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Brazil. But elsewhere, Last.fm online radio will entirely cease on January 15.

The cost of licensing copyright sound recordings has always been, and continues to be, inhibitive to online music companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

2012 marked the tenth anniversary of Last.fm's founding. It was purchased by CBS in 2007, and remains based in England.

Last.fm also announced an upcoming revamped desktop client.

Last.fm features a music recommender system called "Audioscrobbler," which compiles details of users' music habits ("scrobbling") -- on Internet radio stations, local files, or portable devices -- and builds a detailed profile of each user's musical tastes. It's this database that powers Last.fm's music recommendation capability.

Read the Last.fm announcement here.

Paul Maloney
December 13, 2012 - 3:15pm

Radio "futurologist" James Cridland blogs today that Last.fm's "scrobbling" can offer radio great insight in to current trends in music.

The cornerstone of the Last.fm service is the "audio scrobbling" -- the collection of users' music listening details (from various sources) that enables Last.fm to see and understand what's popular and to whom -- "a goldmine for music programmers."

Cridland suggests using Last.fm data to see which artists are trending with listeners, and "if you scrobble your station into it, it'll also show you songs you're not playing but should be." Read Cridland's blog here.