CBS Corp’s music streaming site Last.fm is scaling back some of its operations, and putting others behind a paywall, in a bid to cut costs and make more money out of its existing business, reported TechCrunch.
On 1/15, the company, bought by CBS for $280 million in 2007, is going to be putting its desktop radio service in the UK, U.S. and Germany behind a subscription paywall, as it is already in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Brazil.
The mobile apps also got a new iOS app called “Scrobbler for iOS”, which brings to the iPhone Last.fm’s scrobbling functionality — matching up your listening behavior with your iTunes music collection to suggest music interesting to you.
The ad-supported, web-based streaming service, it notes, will continue to remain free. At the same time, it will be closing operations in all other countries where it currently offers a radio service.
The moves are possibly signs of bigger issues at the company. Behind the scenes, we have heard that Last.fm has been in something of a management and organizational flux, as the once-bright upstart has been upstaged in the streaming music world by companies like Spotify. Now it seems like CBS is just trying to figure out what to do with it.
“CBS overpaid for Last.fm years ago and now no longer want to invest in it,” one source told us. “They need to stop moving it around and focus on making it big again.”
From an internal memo that I’ve seen, CBS effectively dissolved its separately-run Interactive Music Group (which included Metrolyrics, Last.fm and some ad sales people) back in August. David Goodman, who had been at the head of it, now has a different role within CBS.
Last.fm says the main reason for the changes has to do with licensing fees and restrictions for the service, and Last.fm looking to monetize better where it can. “We are always looking at ways to bring music to more people, when it can be done so economically,” the company writes in a statement on the site. “And we hope to be able to open streaming to a wider audience in the future.”
Last.fm notes that in Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and China — radio streaming will no longer be an option as of January 15, “even to subscribers,” because of licensing restrictions. “Scrobbling remains free and your listening data, charts and recommendations will not be affected by this change,” it writes. Other services that will remain for paying subscribers include ad-free browsing on the site, access to demos, “and other features we’re working hard to add.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We were always surprised that Last.fm didn’t integrate with CBS’s Radio.com, which streams all of their signals. Yes, they can be accessed via each other’s players, but the branding is all separate. CC Media’s iHeartRadio probably had the right idea in the way it did it.