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Could this be the 'celestial jukebox?' Last.fm launches new service

Posted on: 01/23/2008

From Eliot Van Buskirk’s ‘Listening Post’ blog at Wired.com: Music fans who had wondered what CBS’s plans were for Last.fm after it acquired the social music site last May need wonder no longer.

At the press conference I’m currently sitting in at CBS’s NY headquarters, CBS executives revealed plans for Last.fm to become “the first website to offer free, global, on-demand access to the largest licensed catalog of music.”..

CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves kicked off the “groundbreaking” announcement by saying that the company had wondered, “could this culture meld with our culture? And I’m pleased to say it did… community is clearly the future.”

Then Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive took the podium to announce an overview of the plan to distribute music from all of the labels, IODA, Naxos, The Orchard, and about 150K indie labels and bands, for free… The total number of songs available now is 3.5 million, but the company is aggressively adding content, and (co-founder Martin) Stiksel said they will never stop adding music. “The mission is to have every track available,” said Stiksel.

Felix Miller, co-founder of Last.fm, called the new service “the world’s biggest jukebox, and it’s free for anyone to use” without logging in.

Martin Stiksel… said that not only does the site provide single-song on-demand streaming, but also complete album streaming “preview” — on a “try before you buy” basis…

Users can listen to each track up to three times under the free program. Last.fm… will also recommend similar music to listen to — or, you can use the song as the basis for a customized internet radio station. Stiksel said the radio listening page is attractive to advertisers, because people return to the screen to rate and skip songs. He also said CBS and Last.fm are working with the labels to increase the number of free plays beyond three.

Stiksel called the ads that will support the program “tiny” and said “they run alongside the music, when people are most engaged.” These video ads will be targeted on where users live and what they listen too. If someone signs up without having been assigned a demographic, an algorithm creates one based on how similar they are to other members in the community.” Their volume will default to the mute position. Advertisers will come from Last.fm’s previous advertisers, but will leverage CBS’s ad relationships too. The network is currently reaching out to its advertisers to tell them about the ad opportunities surrounding Last.fm…

No download is required to use the service, which launches today in the US and Europe, and in other countries soon.

Read Van Buskirk’s entire blog post here.

Here’s more from PaidContent.org: (CBS) Radio and Last.fm talk a lot. As the network covering the Grammys, CBS will be promoting Last.fm heavily in the US. After the announcement, Smith put it to me flatly: ”If you watch the Grammys you will be exposed to Last.fm.” While the announcement mainly centered on the full streaming tracks, this may be the real news, that CBS is now going to be pushing Last.fm, introducing it more aggressively to the US audience. This is something Leslie Moonves has noted, when discussing the service, that for the most part, it hasn’t been exposed to US listeners. Obviously, if Last.fm is going to be promoted during the broadcast of the Grammys, then that’s about to change.

Read PaidContent’s coverage here.

Read the CBS/Last.fm press release here.

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  1. Yawn.

    This seemed great on the surface. But there are too many restrictions – I can’t play several songs at once unless I create a playlist of at least 15. And what’s with the 3 listens limit? And 30 second samples of Tool, Metallica, and Led Zeppelin???

    This story is not newsworthy. For free, on-demand streaming, Imeem.com is miles ahead.

    Ted Squeamish · Jan 23, 09:30 AM · #

  2. Blah, Blah, Blah…more corporate bell whistling…I guess the rest should just pack up and go home…right….

    Melissa Squeamish · Jan 23, 11:19 AM · #

  3. Napster is the best digital music service out there. I don’t know why the world hasn’t awakened to this.

    wyly · Jan 24, 03:04 AM · #

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