Last.fm desktop radio services will be discontinued in some countries while others will be behind a paywall beginning January 15.
Although a leader in the music streaming business, Last.fm is looking to scale back their operations and make more money from their current business. Despite, or perhaps because of, Last.fm’s purchase by CBS in 2007, the company has been in a managerial and organizational flux and is losing their foothold in music streaming to newer companies like Spotify.
According to Last.fm, its desktop radio service will be put behind a paywall for users in the UK, Germany and US similar to ones already set up in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Brazil. Other countries (Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and China) will not be as lucky and will have their desktop radio service discontinued even if there are paid subscribers.
Fortunately the ad-supported, web-based streaming service will continue to remain free and available in all countries. Scrobbling remains free and listening data, charts and recommendations will not be affected by this change. Other services that will remain for paying subscribers include ad-free browsing on the site, access to demos and other features Last.fm is working to add. These changes will take effect January 15.
The main reason for the changes has to do with licensing fees and restrictions for the service, and Last.fm looking to monetize better where it can. According to the company, ad-supported, web browser-based listening is the most popular way to listen to the site in the U.S., UK and Germany. However, for those that wish to use the desktop radio services, Last.fm is planning on releasing a new version of the client in the near future.
This may not kill Last.fm as a service, these changes could turn a lot of subscribers off of the services. In fact, Last.fm has foreseen the potential migration and is offering international users who will no longer have radio desktop services the chance to cancel their subscriptions altogether. Those that have paid for a subscription longer than 30 days up-front can request a refund.
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