Until now Last.fm has been free to listeners on all platforms. But that will change next week, when the Web-based audio service will begin charging people who want to listen using apps on most mobile devices.
The new subscription service kicks in Tuesday, February 15th. According to the Last.fm subscription site, service in the US will cost $3 per month. The mobile apps will then become ad-free.
Last.fm Radio will remain free and ad-supported on the Last.fm website in the US, UK and Germany and for the US and UK users of Xbox Live and Windows Mobile 7 phones. The company said it will also continue to offer its streaming audio for free via the Last.fm desktop app.
The reason for the change is obviously financial. Last.fm is owned by CBS Corporation.
“On the Last.fm website an ad-supported, free-to-listeners model is what supports our online radio services in the US, UK and Germany. In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world,” wrote Matthew Hawn, Vice President/Product, on the Last.fm company blog.
The move to subscription only affects the radio component of Last.fm’s services on mobile and home entertainment devices. Other features — like scrobbling, music and event recommendations, social networking and community forums, and Last.fm’s wiki-based artist information pages — remain free to users worldwide, the company said.
RBR-TVBR observation: Not really surprising. Generating enough advertising revenue to support streaming on lots of platforms is tough. Those Last.fm listeners who don’t want to pay for radio may want to get a cell phone with an FM tuner included.