Last.fm is one of the most popular streaming radio sources out there on the Internet, offering a full-featured website, smart music recommendations based on your listening tastes, apps that serve content to mobile devices, built-in support for a range of home devices and a reasonably priced subscription service promising an ad-free listening experience.
It’s that last point which is the subject of today’s news. Last.fm staffer Matthew Hawn took to the company’s blog yesterday to reveal a coming change to premium offerings. Starting on February 15, mobile apps and home devices supporting Last.fm will fall under the umbrella of subscription offerings, meaning non-paying users will no longer be able to stream the company’s content to cellphones and Internet-connected stereos.
Users will still be able to access the same free content from Last.fm’s web portal that they always have. For listeners in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany at least, as those outside those locations have had to subscribe for music access since last year. Xbox Live subscribers in the United States and United Kingdom will be unaffected, as the gaming console already requires a Gold subscription to access the built-in Last.fm app. The Windows Phone 7 will also continue to stream Last.fm for free until the end of this year, though it seems subscriptions will be required after that.
As you can see, it’s not a sweeping change to Last.fm’s content offering. It’s fair to say that a majority of the service’s users probably spend at least part of their time accessing radio stations directly through the website. Comparing the change to similar offerings from providers like Hulu, Last.fm’s new premium content certainly seems reasonable, especially with a $3 per month subscription fee. For a complete list of affected devices, head over to the company’s FAQ page now.