Last.fm hit with restrictions, adds paywall on desktop client in U.S., U.K., and Germany

last.fm

Last.fm is going to have to change its “Listen to free music with Internet radio, and the largest music catalogue online,” one-liner pretty soon. The music streaming service will have to scrub “free” starting January 15 for its desktop client, which will require users to pay for its radio feature. The CBS acquired music streaming service’s radio streaming service on its desktop client, will no longer be available for non-subscribers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany

While users from these three Western countries will be affected by this new paywall, it only applies to the desktop client’s radio access. You can still get your share of free music even after January 15 by listening to streaming music on Last.fm’s online radio, available via its in-browser app. And of course, all features on the desktop client, excluding streaming radio, will remain free to use.

As for Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, these countries have already been required to pay for a subscribscription to Last.fm since the service was introduced to these demographics.

But outside of the territories mentioned above (to recap, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand), there are some drastic changes taking place. Alleging “licensing restrictions,” Last.fm announced that radio streaming, which users were required to subscribe to in these other countries, will be completely removed also beginning on January 15. Last.fm’s signature feature, Scrobbling, will continue to be free to use everywhere. And the company assures users that “your listening data, charts, and recommendations will not be affected by this change.” Current subscribers are left with two options: Unsubscribe, or continue paying for the service with the promise of new features, “including an ad-free browsing experience site-wide, access to demos on Last.fm Playground, and other features we’re working hard to add,” to compensate for the lack of a radio service.

With these changes in place, Last.fm offers some alternative ways for its users to extract value from its services:

  • Last.fm Discover provides music from thousands of independent artists for you to explore.
  • Last.fm for Spotify lets you explore music within Spotify using your Last.fm recommendations, and improves the more you listen.
  • Services such as The Hype Machine, Deezer and Rdio offer on-demand streaming that scrobbles in many parts of the world. See what’s available in your country.

Even music industry titans in the streaming sector aren’t infallible to the economics of licensing fees. Last.fm chalks up these changes to “various factors that affect our business differently in parts of the world.” But even competing streaming services that rely on advertising like Pandora are struggling to keep up. Skyrocketing royalty rates, and as The Wall Street Journal reported, advertisers that invest in Web and desktops ads, but abstain from mobile ads are contributing to music streaming’s hardships. For now the industry can hinges on the hope that the Internet Radio Fairness Act passes, which would mean companies like Spotify, Pandora, and Last.fm would only have to pay royalties on par with cable and satellite radio. It’s the difference between spending 55 percent of their revenue on royalties compared to the 7-16 percent that cable and satellite companies spend.

Emerging Tech

This streaming music service pays artists in Bitcoin, plants trees if you listen

Feedbands is an environmentally friendly subscription streaming music service that pays its artists in Bitcoin, and plants trees in exchange for authenticated listens from customers.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Music

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Home Theater

If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you now get Hulu for free

Spotify Premium subscribers have yet another reason to love the Swedish streaming service, with the company now offering ad-free Hulu accounts to all premium users at no additional cost.
Home Theater

Pandora Stories let artists take fans on a guided audio tour

Blending podcasts with playlists, Pandora's new format, Pandora Stories, lets artists mix their music with narrated voice tracks, creating a personalized tour of their music, or any other topic they want to discuss.
Home Theater

Apple's new AirPods could arrive this month, packing health sensor tech

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.
Home Theater

SoundCloud hopes to add listeners with 50 percent discount for students

SoundCloud launched a student discount for it's top-tier SoundCloud Go+ membership, dropping the price to just $5 a month. It's a good deal for students, but will it be enough to keep the music platform from going under?
Home Theater

Rock out, dance, or just nod along with the best Bluetooth speakers

The market is saturated with wireless audio solutions fit for any and all circumstances. Check out our picks for the best Bluetooth speakers available, whether you'll be listening in the kitchen or on a mountaintop.
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Home Theater

Get loud with the best outdoor speakers to rock your party in any weather

From rugged, solar-powered backwoods listening companions to floating pool party jam boxes, the best outdoor speakers partner with your lifestyle to let you listen to your favorite tunes wherever you go.
Music

Apple Music offers a few subscription options. We break them down here

Competition for music streaming apps is quickly dwindling with giants like Apple Music and Spotify dominating most of the market? But how much does Apple Music cost and what does a subscription to the music-streaming platform entail?
Home Theater

iPhone owners can finally hear the highest-quality streaming music on Tidal

If you're an iPhone owner who is after the highest possible audio quality from your streaming library, you now have the best option out there: Tidal's Masters Quality Audio (MQA) is now available on iOS.
Home Theater

Apple Music completes its Amazon migration, is now available on Fire TV

Amazon's popular Fire TV devices are now compatible with the most popular on-demand music streaming service in the United States, thanks to a new integration with Apple Music that has finally hit Fire TV devices.
Music

The best new music this week: Karen O with Danger Mouse, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week, we have new music from Karen O with Danger Mouse, Snarky Puppy, Stephen Malkmus, and Zacari.