Less than a year after rolling out what it called a free global jukebox, Last.fm is now doing away with free radio listening, except in the U.S, UK and Germany.
The site, acquired for $280m by media giant CBS almost two years ago, will offer a 30-song free trial period for anyone outside of those three countries—and then it's €3.00 per month.
Revenue from international subscriptions will be used to cover the cost of providing a radio service for international users, explained Last.fm's Owen Parry on the company blog. Revenue from advertising will be used to cover some of the cost of providing service in the three countries – subscriptions are also available. While we would like to provide the same service for users of all countries – the world is a huge place and it’s not cheap to deliver music over the Internet.
Meanwhile, Warner Music Group has confirmed that it’s pulling its music from the site. Last.fm users can still stream music from Warner's artists via their artist-based radio stations, because those songs are licensed under a different deal. However, the site's users will no longer be able to stream songs on-demand from albums Neil Young, Nickelback, Death Cab for Cutie, or any other artist recorded for the label, according to Silicon Alley Insider.
“I can confirm that our music is no longer available on the service, a Warner Music Group spokeswoman told Listening Post via e-mail.
Last.fm lost a fifth of its staff before in December as CBS digested its $1.8bn takeover of CNET.
Overall, the future looks rather shaky for ad-supported music. Last week SpiralFrog, the service which made front page news when Universal Music invested in it in 2006, promising free MP3 downloads, went bankrupt.