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Last.fm To Start Charging International Users 329

Posted by timothy
from the hard-chargin' dept.
tdobson writes "The popular online radio service Last.fm has announced that users outside of the UK, USA and Germany will need to start paying 3 Euros (about $4.40 USD/£2.80 GBP) per month to continue streaming music on their service. Last.fm doesn't offer much of a reason as to the change, other than writing on their blog that '[t]here will be a 30 track free trial, and we hope this will convince people to subscribe and keep listening to the radio.' Already, there appears to be quite a backlash in responses so far, amongst subscribers and non-subscribers of all nationalities — has this killed Last.fm's appeal, globally?"
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Last.fm To Start Charging International Users

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:15AM (#27326109)

    I love Last.fm
    I'm a regular listener and found many new interesting bands. Not only have I bought their albums, but also went to local concerts that I wouldn't have heard about otherwise.
    I will NEVER pay for an internet service.
    Remains the question: Are there any alternatives?

    • by Rathum (1406047) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:18AM (#27326133)
      Pandora Radio [pandora.com] is a good one.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:25AM (#27326171)

        Pandora Radio [pandora.com] is a good one.

        Yes, it's a great alternative....

        visiting the pandora.com homepage =

        Dear Pandora Visitor,

        We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

        We believe that you are in Australia (your IP address appears to be x.x.x.x). If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please contact us at pandora-support@pandora.com

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @10:39AM (#27329503)

          I use Pandora from Canada practically every day.

          The solution is to use Tor, configured to only use US exit nodes, along with FoxyProxy, configured to run www.pandora.com through Tor. Because the audio servers aren't in www.pandora.com and don't do geolocation, as long as you connect to the website from a US host, you can connect to the audio servers directly, thus getting full speed audio.

          • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:39PM (#27331219)

            Initially, Pandora's count of the number of songs you skipped was kept on the client, so reloading the page reset the number of songs you were allowed to skip. That seems to have been fixed now, but it was interesting while it lasted. Your workaround for Pandora's geographic limitations is in the same vein --- it'd have been easy for Pandora to make it work differently, but they didn't.

            Considering the otherwise great quality of Pandora, I think their programmers just really don't like these restrictions, and implement them in the most half-assed way possible. Kudos to them.

      • by umghhh (965931)
        which is available only in US.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by pinkushun (1467193)
        Pandora and spotify.com both don't serve as far abroad as our unknown country of South Africa :p I would gladly pay for this service, if only I could afford the bandwidth to stream the music in the first place, that would be grand...
    • by RuBLed (995686) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:35AM (#27326237)

      I will NEVER pay for an internet service.

      I'm with you AC except for that line. If you are willing to pay for a tangible thing or a real world service that you love, why not an internet based one? Or you only love it because it was free and nothing else? I find that reasoning very popular with other people too. Any insights why people?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:02AM (#27326407)

        Yes I'm willing to elaborate.,

        When I pay for a product I expect something from it. Tangible things are just that, tangible. I have it now, I have it tomorrow, so the value retains.
        When I pay for a 'real world service', I do so reluctantly. I do this only because:
        a: Law dictates it. For example car insurance.
        b: I can't do it myself in a realistic manner.
        Internet services are even further out of the question, since I
        a: Get nothing out of it,
        b: I can do it myself better.

        • by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:19AM (#27326499)

          Internet services are even further out of the question, since I
          a: Get nothing out of it,
          b: I can do it myself better

          What is the problem then? If you get nothing out of Last.FM as an internet service, and can do better yourself then create your own streaming music service.

          The contradiction of saying that you get nothing out of a service while at the same time complaining you don't have access to it is clear. As is the arrogance of saying that internet services have no worth because 'I can do it myself better'. If you can then why don't you?

          Your argument that a service has no value because it doesn't offer something you can keep is rather flawed. Would you not buy a hotdog because you can only eat it once? Would you not go to the theatre or cinema because it is a finite experience?

        • by totally bogus dude (1040246) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:28AM (#27326561)

          Those last responses don't hold up to even a superficial analysis.

          a: Get nothing out of it

          It's already been established that the person in question (possibly you) "loved" the last.fm service and used it regularly, so claiming they "get nothing out of it" is obviously hogwash.

          b: I can do it myself better

          This isn't always the case, and in this particular example doesn't seem to be. The OP stated they'd found new bands via the last.fm service, so at the very least last.fm must have music s/he/you doesn't have. Further, last.fm has access to a large database of listening habits it can use to recommend things to you, which is something which I'm pretty sure even a mighty AC doesn't have. Also, are there any alternatives? implies knowledge that it is providing something they can't provide themself (or they can't provide themself, if you're the same AC).

          I think the "tangible" argument seems reasonable, in a completely unrational kind of way (but we're humans, so we're supposed to be irrational). So, last.fm is a streaming service where you'd be paying for an "experience" rather than an actual product you can keep. What about paying for music or games or videos that you download, rather than coming in a box? Are these intangible as well, even though you can interact with it and keep it forever (I'm assuming no DRM so you can make backups and burn physical copies and so on)? Where does the line between "tangible" and "intangible" get drawn, for you?

          Assuming you pay for your internet connection, what makes that tangible? It is, after all, just a service that will cease to be of any benefit to you if you stop paying the monthly fee. What about electricity bills?

          I guess these fall under the "cannot do myself" reasoning; what I don't understand is why internet services are automatically excluded from this, despite it being quite obvious that there's a lot of things you can't reasonably do yourself that others can. Yes, you could build your own last.fm-like service and somehow get loads of people to use it, but I don't think it meets the "reasonably" criteria; as in, it'd be a fuckload of work. But somehow not having to do all of that work while still enjoying the benefits it'd bring isn't worth a few dollars a month?

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @08:33AM (#27327899) Journal

          >>>Tangible things are just that, tangible. I have it now, I have it tomorrow, so the value retains.

          So you never rent VHS or DVD movies??? Or a car? Or a plane or train ride to XX destination? Simply because you can't keep those services in your pocket or on a bookshelf?!?!? That's just weird. Renting last.fm is no different than renting Satellite radio, satellite tv, or cable tv on a monthly basis. I'd happily pay that fee.

          You're just one of those stupid Entitlement Generation persons, who thinks he should be able to steal service from others without payment. "I want it free therefore I should have it!" Reminds me of my 8 year old.

      • by ross.w (87751) <rwonderley@g m a i l.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:35AM (#27326597) Journal

        I don't pay for the radio I listen to over the air. Why would I pay for it just because it comes from a web site?

      • Quality? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:58AM (#27326723) Journal

        I recently was in the market for a new soundcard. Not just a soundcard but one that does 5.1 and EAX support for the games I play.

        This is harder then it sounds because Creative is shooting straight for the bottom. Their new X-fi chip is so bad they had to allow a third party to use it to get a decent soundcard out. Oh well, luckily I am dutch and I could test the X-fi myself, simply by buying it, running it over the weekend, then returning it on monday when it didn't work out. Full money back. Tried another sound card, returned that too, money back.

        Free internet services can pull all kind of crap but the moment I pay for something I am protected by dutch law. Not american "companies own your ass" laws, not british "we want to be american" laws, but dutch laws. The only country in the world where Sony was FORCED to replace ALL PSP's with any defective pixels and this policy has affected all LCD's for years. Pixel warranty? Only for those silly enough not to know the law.

        Can Last.FM stand up to this? Can they provide a service with which I will be satisfied 100% or money back, no questions asked? Of course not.

        That for me is the difference between paying for something and something being free. I expect and demand and have the law on my side to get my money worth. Even if it is "only" three euro. Frankly I have tried last.fm several times and their service is pretty bad. Spotty loading, slow, lack of pre-buffering and their recommendation system is hazy. It can't even tell bands apart so it will happily mix completely opposite music styles just because one band that is in the style you look for has the same name.

        3 euro's? No thanks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by russotto (537200)

          Not american "companies own your ass" laws, not british "we want to be american" laws, but dutch laws.

          As an American, I want to point out that actually, Britain is currently in the lead in oppressive laws among nominally free nations. We're still in second place, but Australia is coming on strong.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Not for one thing or another, but being 1st 2nd or 3rd for most opressive western regime IS NOT a race you want to be in. Mind you, we are beating all of you in slowest response to the credit crisis! YEAH! Go dutchies!

      • by johannesg (664142)

        Because there are so many alternatives. If my favorite newssite starts charging money, I can get the exact same news from a dozen other sites. They are only my favorite because of their short, easy to remember URL, not because they add any kind of value to the news they report (and in fact, they don't).

        Same for Slashdot: let's say it starts charging tomorrow for posting or whatever. Will I get my creditcard out for that? Hell no! There are about a million sites where I can waste most of the day reading peop

      • by Xest (935314)

        "If you are willing to pay for a tangible thing or a real world service that you love, why not an internet based one?"

        Well non-internet radio is free, so that's one reason why I can see people wouldn't be willing to pay internet radio - they could after all just switch back to non-internet radio.

        But I think the bigger reason the AC made this distinction is because online services already make their money - enough to cover costs and still make a profit - through advertising. If they are asking you to pay on

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          >>>online services already make their money - enough to cover costs and still make a profit - through advertising

          Not anymore. Since the economy turned to crap, the advertising has dried-up. This is affecting not just websites but also newspapers (going bankrupt all over the place) and television. "They make money off advertising" is no longer a true statement, at least not in this year 2009.

      • by Skater (41976) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @07:57AM (#27327585) Homepage Journal
        I'm curious. With the newspapers in major trouble right now, if they can't make money on internet offerings and go out of business, will the quality of media decline? The newspapers usually have better reporting than the television news. I'm not a huge fan of the media, but they do have an important purpose in any elected system. Seeing people say they'll never pay for an internet service makes me worry about that.
    • by umghhh (965931) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:38AM (#27326259)
      NEVER is a strong word. It seems there are limits what current business models can do and what you seem to like so much i.e. fee free service may not be feasible in nearest future due to the fact that advertising revenue is not there.

      There has been an article on Economist website about the end of the free lunch. [economist.com] The article itself is rather simplistic but what can you expect from economists - anybody that reads news recently should know that they ain't that smart either. They maybe onto something though - majority of web services will need some other revenue than advertising or it will collapse. Whether this eliminates the whole business model I doubt but we are going to see anyway.

    • by ItsColdOverHere (928704) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:42AM (#27326289)

      Shoutcast to the rescue, yes you have no control over the track selection but it's free, the actual streaming providers are completely decentralised and I've found that recently I'm not really using the next and ban features of Last.fm. Yes Last.fm will be missed but it was by no means indispensible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Per Wigren (5315)

      I'm willing to pay for good enough internet services (like Linux Weekly News [lwn.net] for example) though, but this is like a punch in the face. Most of the content in last.fm is fucking user contributed!

      I also used to pay for Spotify [spotify.com] but I cancelled my account when they suddenly decided to drop just about all independent and small-label bands that they didn't have formal on-paper contracts with. 90% of my crust-punk and power-noise/industrial playlists went red because of that, and they still haven't re-added a sin

      • by teg (97890)

        I'm willing to pay for good enough internet services (like Linux Weekly News for example) though, but this is like a punch in the face. Most of the content in last.fm is fucking user contributed!

        The content they are going to be charging for, streamed music, is not user created - the web sites, scrobbling etc. should continue like now, if I read them right. I've been a subscriber for a while, and I greatly prefer their approach to the Pandora approach (no access outside the US).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by headLITE (171240)

      I will NEVER pay for an internet service.

      Okay, you're certainly within your rights in chosing to never pay for an internet service. So, in your ideal world, who exactly should be paying? There is a substantial cost involved in offering services on the internet to a large group of users, especially bandwidth-intensive services such as streaming music. On top of that, you have to pay a license or royalties. So who should pay for that, if the beneficiary of these offerings, the end user, is already taken out of the equation? Sure, free lunches are ni

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by macshit (157376)

        I'd guess that most people have a slightly more nuanced position. Mine is roughly: "sure I'll pay a reasonable fee for your service -- but then you need to not suck."

        Last.fm, of course, fails with flying colors.

        I think that becoming a paid service inevitably results in hugely increased expectations from your customers, even if the fee is relatively small.

        [I sometimes use last.fm -- but mostly because it's free, not because it's any good.]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JohnBailey (1092697)

      I love Last.fm
      I'm a regular listener and found many new interesting bands. Not only have I bought their albums, but also went to local concerts that I wouldn't have heard about otherwise.
      I will NEVER pay for an internet service.
      Remains the question: Are there any alternatives?

      Last I checked, Deezer seemed ok. Not as many clients, but still fairly good. www.deezer.com

    • I will NEVER pay for an internet service.

      And since internet services don't grow in nature and someone has to provide the content, hosting, bandwidth, labor etc, your statement can be translated as: I want somebody else to pay for the internet services I use, waaaaaaaa...
  • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:18AM (#27326129) Journal

    has this killed Last.fm's appeal, globally?

    Depends on what they're using it for. I might be a minority, but I hardly ever use the radio feature - I use the site as a way to track what I've been listening to, and use the recommendations to find new artists to buy or download from iTunes or Amazon.

    • by WoLpH (699064)

      Same here, I only use last.fm (as I did with audioscrobbler in the past) as a log of what I listen to so I can find music I like to hear.

      I've never used the streaming feature as I didn't see much use to it.

    • by NorQue (1000887)
      So, we're three now. Same here, I wonder that there even are people who use the streaming service. I always found the quality to be horrible, not to mention that their flash player didn't work for me at all for a very long time. I scrobble with Amarok (which also keeps track of what I have listened to and how often) and just use last.fm for recommendations - which are very useful, IMO. No idea how many bands I found through last.fm through the last year, but I'm pretty sure it's more than a hundred (I scrob
  • Huge database (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Extremus (1043274) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:18AM (#27326131)
    They have a huge database of listening habits and cannot make money on it. It will be a good example of incompetence.
    • by umghhh (965931)
      This can be incompetence or maybe the market situation today does not provide money for such DBs? Whether this is the end of certain business model or not is another matter but in their case it seems to be.

      What interests me here however is why single out Germany, UK and US? What is so different there?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by 1stvamp (662375)

        Germany, UK and US are where they have their licensing deals, so they make advertising and referral money off streams within those countries.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by mr.hawk (222616)

          I'm located in Sweden but regularly buy CDs from Amazon.co.uk after following links of recommendations on last.fm.

          That's a referral, isn't it?

          Besides, I just can't believe event promoters aren't flocking to the service and then paying last.fm based on the number of "I attended this event" or some such.

          Considering the potential gold mine that last.fm surely must be I can only speculate that this move was intentional to avoid hefty infrastructure investments for markets with only marginal direct contribution

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1stvamp (662375)

      No, they just have a policy of not selling on their DB to third parties, that huge DB of listening habits is used for the service alone.

  • by yo303 (558777) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:20AM (#27326147)

    Music wants to be free.

    (Also movies, games, software and books. Porn is already free.)

    • by dangitman (862676)
      No, music wants to snort lines of cocaine off your sister's ass. That ain't free.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The cocaine isn't, your sister is :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I said the same, porn is already free. She looked at me like I was mentally retarded or something, and replied, pay or get the fuck out of my face, loser.

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

      Well... to an extent. There's a move towards streaming services. I can't imagine buying music now that spotify exists - I'm always in reach of an internet connection and a couple of 30 second adverts an hour is a small price to pay. I can see a future where we have ipod/car stero equivalents that don't have storage and merely stream from the cloud.. and it's not really that far off (get the data charges down on 3G and you're basically there). Bands are going to have to go back to making money off playin

  • Wait a sec.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:29AM (#27326197) Homepage
    Last.fm streams? This is news to me, and I've been using it for about 4 years to "scrobble" music.
  • Global access = good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gible (526142)
    At least you can still access it globally unlike Hulu etc
  • One thing I couldn't get a straight answer:

    Right now, the site subscription is 2.50/month. The blog mentions that the price to keep streaming songs on the radios will be 3.00/month. It seems that, what's happening is that streaming will be available only to subscribers and the subscription price will be bumped 0.50/month.

    But heck, I couldn't get a answer, since they seem to be ignoring the whole discussion after a lot of people started complaining about the geographical subscription requirements.

  • by fmstasi (659633) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:35AM (#27326235)
    I started using last.fm only a few months ago; I configured amarok to scrobble the music I listen, then once in a while I use last.fm streams to discover new music with my neighbors' radio. I would'nt pay the admittedly low fee of 3$/month only for this, so I will simply stop using it. I guess the vast majority of users will do the same.
  • There is a service that delivers you complete albums, for free, whenever you want - and works in any country.

    Its called 'bittorrent'

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Yes, they have to remember against what they compete. And I still have deezer available.
      I am disappointed but hardly surprised. I wonder how long last.fm could sustain itself with close to no source of revenue. It should be something that is sponsored by records not something they make pay for. Thanks to last.fm, there are three new great groups I discover that I am willing to sponsor. How, a perfect "ask slashdot" moment : Will the artists get a bigger share of my money if I buy a tour ticket or a CD ? I'
  • by martijnd (148684) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:43AM (#27326299)

    This is simply a realization that free won't pay for their massive bandwidth costs (and no doubt the royalties they need to pay).

    A million websites have been launched, and died, after their operators realized that advertising could never cover their costs.

    If you look around, banners for sites that have 2 million page views p/month go for as low as US$ 45 p/month. Even if you plaster a site with them you can't scrape a living out of this. Sure, some struck it lucky, but most will die.

    Facebook, Twitter, cool toys, but dead men walking ; and they will be replaced after they die. Will you pay a monthly subscription fee to use either one of them?

    Facebook is just a blog, a few hacks can string existing blogs together and create the same functionality. Twitter can be done in P2P fashion.

    The good times were good, now the money men come calling.

    • by smart.id (264791)

      I'm not sure what you mean by Facebook and Twitter as "dead man walking." Aren't these two of the fastest growing websites (in terms of members) on the internet? (And if you mean "they'll die eventually" then you too are a dead man walking...)

      Facebook is just a blog? What the fuck are you talking about? Have you used the website?

      How could Twitter be done in "P2P fashion"? Do we all put our tweets in text files and add them to a big torrent?

      • I'm not sure what you mean by Facebook and Twitter as "dead man walking." Aren't these two of the fastest growing websites (in terms of members) on the internet?

        And how much money do they make off each of those members? I'm guessing that's what he means.

      • by Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) <JetpackJohn@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:46AM (#27326651) Homepage

        I'm not sure what you mean by Facebook and Twitter as "dead man walking." Aren't these two of the fastest growing websites (in terms of members) on the internet? (And if you mean "they'll die eventually" then you too are a dead man walking...)

        Wild inaccuracies aside, I think the GP meant that, so far, Facebook has yet to turn a profit. It's getting bigger and bigger and becoming ever more full of features, but there business plan seems to be "if we get big enough, we'll eventually make money through scaling".

        I don't know, though... given their vast userbase and the site's general usefulness (*so* much better than Myspace ever was), it really seems like they should be making a good deal of money. But they're not. Even venture capitalists will only throw money at something for so long. :)

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Do you remember how it all started ? People sharing disk space and bandwidth ? If you don't need to pay royalties, it is not hard to have movies sharing websites. Look at the first bittorrent tracker that's available. Would it be made legal, many open source solutions would appear to maintain the video memory of the 20th century (that is slowly fading, that will never become 'culture' as the XIXth is today)

      The real money behind facebook is not online ads, it is consumers database.

      I agree that facebook
  • by Biotech9 (704202) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:53AM (#27326355) Homepage

    I haven't touched last.fm since I got spotify. I've heard it's not available world-wide, but seeingas it's free and legal, surely this is the future of public music?

    It has an iTunes-ish inerface, but has access to millions of artists, and the normal selection of radio-stations. As Well as the great features of being able to make and share play-lists with friends or create an open playlist for a party.

    Do many people here use it? IS it a known service? And does anyone want an invite?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

      I think they dropped the invites - at least I signed up without one.. just went to their page and selected sign up.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @04:53AM (#27326357)

    The big thing is international licensing. Pandora doesn't limit its services because it's xenophobic or because it thinks foreigners shouldn't be able to listen to online music---they do it because the copyright holders are nutty about controlling the markets abroad. I recall reading somewhere that the licensing costs generally don't justify the expenses for international audiences. (Something like this [pandora.com].) So you can either block access to international traffic, or you can try to make it profitable. Last.fm probably isn't losing much (relatively speaking) by losing its international audience, but apparently they still want to keep their service available overseas.

    So, to the posters above, please stop complaining about discrimination. This policy is most likely just the trickle-down piss from the record companies.

    • They don't mention anything about licensing in the blog linked in the summary though. The only explanation they give is that only in those three countries there is enough advertising money to be made to pay for the subscribers in those countries.
  • Discrimination?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Is this IP-based discrimination okay? We should have a (global, of course) law against it...you should neither be discriminated against because of skin, color, race, nor IP :)

    Honestly, I *don't* like geographical borders re-emerging in the _global_ Internet world...this is not a good direction. Resist the beginnings!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Trahloc (842734)
      How about just fixing IP law so that after a few reasonable years it goes into the public domain. Then we don't need to add another law on top of all these broken laws. Fix the original problem, don't bandaid it with something that just makes it worse.
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Then work on getting your governments to agree on global laws for everything from basic human rights to intellectual property rights. Once you've unified the entire world under a single government, then you can stop seeing companies treat different countries differently.

      You seem to have forgotten that every country has its own laws and its own market.

      Last.fm CANNOT MAKE MONEY in those countries as it is. Their choices were -charge- or -ban-. At least this way they can still access the service somehow.

  • Bittorrent ftw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:14AM (#27326477)
    Pandora, spotify, last.fm, Hulu. None of which are available in canada or most places outside the US. Bittorrent however is still free in both senses. That they couldn't roll these out internationally is bull. Maybe a few months lag time max to fix the deals internationally. Plus last.fm clearly has SOMETHING in place since they used to stream to everyone. It is somewhat amazing that i've been able to illegitimately listen to streaming music for 10 years now and business STILL hasn't got it right. I guess I should expect a good legit streaming show/movie site in about 2030.
  • by EddyPearson (901263) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:18AM (#27326493) Homepage

    I'm actually a Last.fm subscriber, and am more than happy to pay the meagre 3 euros, but being forced into it? Personally I don't use the paid features much at all, it's as much wanting to support the (excellent) service as it is trying to get value for money.

    I wonder if they'll lose that sort of support when they move their business toward a more corporate stance.

  • About anything. Seriously, it's three dollars a month! I've had a subscription for some time now because I've found TONS of music I would have never found otherwise. Their streaming is great. If my ten cents a day helps keep them afloat and allows me to keep discovering new artists, it's completely worth it. And if you're that cheap anyway, hit up a proxy or do without. There are always shoutcasts and icecasts out there. They suck, but it's an alternative for the financially challenged.
  • So long... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:52AM (#27326703) Journal
    ...and thanks for all the tuna !
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:33AM (#27326985)
    Last.fm is owned by CBS, a company that's so desperate for ca$h right now (due to Sumner Redstone's poor investment choices) that they would remove the gold fillings from dead people and melt them down if they could.
  • by jw3 (99683) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:35AM (#27327003) Homepage

    I have seen this line of reasoning a few times, and I think it is important to get it straight.

    It is perfectly normal that the pricing for services and products is different in different countries. I mean, how retarded do you have to be to think that an item X should cost exactly the same in, say, the country it was produced and the country it has been shipped to after paying tolls?

    And especially especially when we are talking about copyrights and international licensing, the matters are complex. Say, I had enough money *and* the juristic possibility to get a special kind of contract in two countries which allows me to play the music for free in these countries... am I obliged to pay -- possibly much more money -- to get the same type of agreement in all other countries in the world?

    Nope. Look, I am living in Germany, but I'm not a German citizen. Last.fm is not free in the country of my origin. Discrimination / rascism would have been if they refused to provide me with the same service as German citizens. Or if the Germans living in my country of origin were allowed to listen to last.fm for free, whereas other people would have to pay. That would have been discrimination.

    There was a similar discussion in regard to iTunes. iTunes music store is always national -- works only in one country. There are plenty of countries where you cannot buy music from iTunes (even within EU). Are they rascist? Nope. Neither is Walmart, even though there is not a single Walmart in Burkina Faso. Or an online pharmacy shop in London even though it does not ship certain drugs to the U.S. -- legal in London, illegal or not allowed for import in the U.S-

    The fact that Internet brings different countries together, and allows you to communicate over juristic and national boundaries doesn't mean that these boundaries do not exist. Don't you forget this.

    j.

  • by Minupla (62455) <minupla@gmai l . com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:43AM (#27327061) Homepage Journal

    OK the case for me purchasing an account on one of the US vpn providers keeps getting stronger. 4.40*12=52.80. Witopia provides VPN at USD 36/yr, and allows me to use it for the general case of any US service that geolocks (Hulu, Pandora, and the list keeps getting longer)

    Why would I give Last more money for effectively less service?

    Min

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

      If you want to stream the likes of hulu you're going to end up paying more than that - in terms of raw bandwidth cost there's no way they can supply VPN at that price for very long.

  • by knarf (34928) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @07:02AM (#27327181) Homepage

    ...the world wide web gets chopped into bite-sized chunks, to be gobbled up by overweight bonus-grabbers, their quivering jowls dripping slime while they stuff their gassy wobbling guts. Just like with the whole globalisation thing really... borders which are broken down for the grabbers are reinstated for the 'consumers' using licensing and technology. Vote with your wallets, people! It is the only vote which counts in a capitalist world.

  • by toolz (2119) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @07:16AM (#27327293) Homepage Journal

    Seems to get worse - they are about the change the API, and streaming to mobile phones will not be allowed [www.last.fm].

    2.You won't be allowed to use our API to stream to mobile phones. This is unfortunately a limitation of some of our licensing agreements.

    I wonder what the rationale for that is.

  • by gsn (989808) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @07:40AM (#27327461)

    Seems like there are plenty of ways to make money from last.fm users without charging them directly.

    - a craigslist/ebay style setup to buy/sell/trade music/show tickets/whatever - take a cut from the ads/transaction fee - there are forums but these are token and there isn't a Buy/Sell section anywhere AFAIK.

    - use music recommendations to sell people music directly rather than linking to amazon/itunes whatever. Particularly for smaller bands that can't get recording contracts - work to hook them up with gigs and sell merchandise through the site and take a cut - essentially cut out the record labels as middle men and still provide a service that makes it easy to find smaller bands.

    - they have recommendations for events in the local area but I never see them handle ticket sales at all - well why the heck not - local shows are much smaller scale than giant stadium shows and they could get a larger turnout and

    Of course setting up this kind of infrastructure costs money, particularly to do it globally, but use your user base to add events in the region and use them to review and categorize bands and just make it easy for bands to offer goods through the site. Charging users directly is a good way to lose them because there are plenty of free alternatives and we've all gotten used to not paying for radio. Music fans are among the most passionate - give them services they can actually use and take a reasonable cut and they'll probably embrace it in droves.

    They just do not get social networking at all.

  • by Meltir (891449) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @08:24AM (#27327813) Homepage

    while i understand the premise behind this move (its always about money, aint it ? ;) ), it will have serious consequences:
    less users from countries that do not get the service for free.
    this leads to less of an incentive for bands from those countries to sign up, publish their music for free (or for money - doesn't really matter).
    and that means that the sole reason for which i love last.fm - the amazing variety of music from every corner of the globe available on it - will be gone.
    it will become just like any bog standard radio station, pushing britney spears, pussycat dolls and just5 (no disrespect - the mentioned are just not my thing ;) ).
    im sure that others will agree that the amazing variety of music in the system is an enormous advantage of last.fm, and loosing it will lead to a slow decay of the service.

    having said that - im in the UK, and will be receiving the service for free.
    and having said _THAT_ i wouldn't mind at all if the service became a globally paid service, and everyone was required to pitch in to keep/raise the quality - i would pay for it myself.

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