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RAIN 5/25: Last.fm revamping to regain mainstream appeal

Posted on: 05/25/2011

HOPES TO REGAIN POPULARITY WITH NEW SOCIAL FEATURES, MTV PARTNERSHIP

Last.fm has begun a site overhaul while charging ahead with new initiatives, all aimed at turning the company into a “mainstream music service.”

“We want to become the connective tissue between music services like Spotify and iTunes,” explained Matthew Hawn, Last.fm VP of product. “The place where people publish their music taste online. If Foursquare is where you publish your location, and Facebook is where you socially connect, Last.fm should be where you publish your taste in music.”

Hawn feels Last.fm has “lost its place in people’s minds and become too niche,” reports The Telegraph (here). He hopes to especially regain popularity in the UK, where Last.fm’s audience has waned since the company was bought by CBS (RAIN coverage here). Last we heard, Last.fm’s U.S. traffic was growing nicely.

Last.fm has already added Facebook Connect, which allows users to link their Facebook accounts to Last.fm (more coverage here). This lets users import artists they’ve “Liked” on Facebook into their Last.fm collections. The service will follow-up with a “Friend Finder” tool by the end of May.

The service also intends to focus more on live events and partner with other entertainment brands. Last.fm is starting with MTV, which will embed a special Last.fm player in its website.

RAIN ANALYSIS: Interestingly, the Telegraph writes that Last.fm is “now solely focused on providing personalised internet radio, music recommendation and ‘scrobbling.’”

If true, that marks a departure from what we’ve seen and heard from Last.fm lately.

In February the company killed its mobile radio streams for non-subscribers. Hawn “told CNet that the company is focusing on tracking and discovering music and moving away from radio“ (more here).

Months before, Last.fm axed several customizable radio streams (here). And back in July 2010, CBS Interactive president David Goodman said he wanted “Last.fm to become the definitive source of data on what people are listening to, replacing Soundscan” (here). — MS

SMARTPHONES FUELING INCREASED MOBILE MUSIC LISTENING

A new study from the NPD Group suggests that more people are listening to music on their mobile devices. The growth is likely fueled by increasing smartphone sales and the rising number of mobile music services available.

Mobile music listening increased from 12% of U.S. web users in 2009 to 17% in 2010.

“In fact the ability to stream, download, or listen to music is the second most-used utility for Apple iPhones and Android phones, behind downloading apps and ahead of sending photos,” writes the market research company.

But the NPD Group suggests that “payment could be a challenge.” Read more here.

GOOGLE STUDY SHOWS POWER OF RADIO TO DRIVE ONLINE USAGE

A new study from Google found that 68% of respondents cite traditional media as a cause for their mobile web searches. More specifically, 40% cite AM/FM radio.

Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media writes that the study “reinforces the notion that a timely radio message can drive behavior – especially among consumers with mobile phones. We see this every day in our jacAPPS download statistics. Stations that regularly promote their apps always excel in driving more listeners to the various app stores. Radio remains very influential.”

But he warns that the study’s results also show that “a mobile app for radio needs to be more than a Walkman.” Read more Jacobs’ analysis at the jacoBLOG here. You can find Google’s study here.

KENWOOD OFFERS 2 NEW PANDORA-FRIENDLY CAR STEREOS

Kenwood has debuted two new Internet radio-friendly car stereos. They include 3” color displays to show song metadata and can stream Pandora via connected smartphones. Users can control web radio playback via the stereos’ buttons.

The stereo units — the KIV-BT901 and KIV-701 — list for $430 and $360, respectively, and more information can be found from Radio World here.



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