Last.fm Joins The Crowd In Offering Not-Really-Free Music; Press Hypes It As New

from the not-as-good-as-it-sounds dept

The press is having a field day with Last.fm’s announcement today that it’s now offering “free” music. It has the type of “hook” that the press loves. A site that’s willing to stream music for free. It’s so tempting to tell that story that everyone seems to be missing a few important details. Detail #1: It’s not really free. Detail #2: It’s nothing new at all. It doesn’t let you download music. It merely lets you stream it. And, even then, you’re only limited to 3 streams before you can no longer hear that song again without buying it. That sounds quite similar to the program that RealNetworks launched nearly three years ago allowing you to stream 25 songs per month for free. Or how about Napster’s program, launched in 2006, which let you stream songs five times for free before asking you to pay up. If anything, the Last.fm deal, with only 3 streams, is a lot more limited than these earlier offerings. And, yet, just as they did with the RealNetworks and Napster deals in years past, the press is raving about this “free music” offering from Last.fm and CBS (owner of Last.fm). The NY Times is incorrectly claiming that Last.fm is “the first company” to do this. Reuters is calling it “free music on demand”, completely ignoring the limit of only three streams. The UK’s Times Online suggests this somehow is moving the world closer to “legally” listening to free music online. Almost every article on the story has a similar theme, and almost no one seems to note that this isn’t really free and it’s certainly not particularly different than what’s been out there for years. Apparently, if you want gushing press, all you need to do is announce “free” online music, even if the details suggest something entirely different.

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Companies: cbs, last.fm

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Comments on “Last.fm Joins The Crowd In Offering Not-Really-Free Music; Press Hypes It As New”

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30 Comments
Hulser says:

Institutional Knowledge

The irony here is that, according to their own the self-described superiority, the old school media news organizations have the kind of institutional knowledge that should have known these claims were false and the high journalistic standards that should have questioned the press release instead of just regurgitating it back to the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

If the labels support it and really fill it up with millions of songs and I can begin to find non top 40 garbage on there, then it is worth it. The real news isnt the tech, its that I can explore music that doesnt play on the radio–with the labels help! That is, if it ends up being a useful exploration platform.

There are literally dozens of albums I would buy right now if only I could hear the songs first.

Tony says:

Why not use Pandora

while i haven’t looked at this program yet, how on earth could this be so “earth shattering”? Don’t we already get free radio streaming in itunes, minus the insane restriction of three songs?

What about pandora.com, which not only lets you stream endlessly, but has an insane bank of songs and artists and an operating philosophy that brings you music you didn’t know you loved?

it seems crazy to me that this last.fm is even registering a blip on the radar.

Simon Chamberlain (profile) says:

Not to mention....

That it’s only available in the USA, UK and Germany. Three big markets, sure – but what about the rest of us?

Actually though, this looks pretty good: not as amazing as some of the media are claiming, but still pretty good. I liked last.fm a lot when it was “just” a way to find new music and stream songs that were like a particular artist or genre. Adding in the ability to listen to specific songs makes their service more useful to me.

In reply to AC at #6: last.fm will already let you find lots of non-top 40 music. Give it a try (or try pandora.com, if you’re in the US).

Jack says:

From Last FM´s blog “The soon-to-be announced subscription service will give you unlimited plays and some other useful things”. When you pay the subscription fee you can play all songs from their entire library how many times you want, I think. I would gladly a few dollars for that! I still think this is very good news (even if media exagerates a bit). You get good recommendations and then you can stream as much as you want.

I think Deezer,Pandora,Imeem, Songza, Spotify and the others will have problems competing with this…

brian (user link) says:

Last.fm is pandora and more

“What about pandora.com, which not only lets you stream endlessly, but has an insane bank of songs and artists and an operating philosophy that brings you music you didn’t know you loved?”

Last.fm already is very similar to pandora. It lets me pick any artist and listen to a streaming station of similar artists. It’s my understanding that the similar artists are built by tracking the tastes of users- while I listen to music on my mp3 player I “scrobble” a record of what i’m listening to to last.fm. It sounds like all the new service does is remove some offer streaming without the social and music exploration aspects of their stellar current free service.

Dan says:

Re: Same ol, same ol

“Mike continues to rail against intellectual property concepts and laws and his audience responds with enthusiasm over the unrealistic expectation that one day all music will be free.”

Actually, from what I’ve seen, Mike’s arguments have been against the implementation of IP concepts, not the concepts themselves. As far as railing against the laws, it’s quite simple – there are bad IP laws that have been passed, including the DMCA and the Copyright Term Extension Act. Criticizing and arguing against laws you disagree with is part of the democratic process.

Additionally, the purpose of this article was to point out the exaggeration of last.fm’s “free music” by the media, and that it’s simply not true nor an original idea. Why you’re trying to address an issue that has no real connection to the subject is a bit confusing.

That being said…I don’t necessarily think the recording industry should be giving away music. But I also don’t think the RIAA should be bitching and moaning about their bogus piracy statistics and using them to influence our government to pass laws that restrict fair use and force ISP’s to filter content.

“From the wishful-get-something-for-nothing dept.”

Maybe if you keep saying the same unsubstantiated BS over and over again, it will come true. It might actually be true for a few people here, but you keep attempting to lump everyone who disagrees with you in this category. Come up with a new catch phrase, at least.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re #17 Scorpiaux

Troll much?
You can’t beat economics 101. Thats just how it is man (or woman).
Infinitely availble = price driven to Zero.
It is unavoidable.
Music will be free. Whether or, or anyone else, likes it or not. Especially since everybody (except those who make money Only off of the current model and refuse to adapt) wants it to be this way anyways.

jezebelzlova says:

totally fiction

ok i may be inclined to imeem since i’m a user, but imeem was the first site to announce full on-demand UNLIMITED streaming of both audio and video. i’m a user of of the three music bigwigs: imeem, last.fm, and pandora. imeem definitely was first and last.fm and their blueprint, new napster, and others are following. pandora is still the best easiest recommedation tool, but imeem is the best music community with on-demand full streaming. mainstreeam press is eating up the CBS bullsh_t.

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