Last.fm has some pretty ambitious plans for the next stage of its growth.
There hasn’t been much of note to say about Last.fm in recent times. The London-based company hasn’t rolled out any major new features or services since it was acquired by CBS in 2007. [Update: a reader calls us out on this below, and quite rightly too, we perhaps worded that a little strongly, although the last year or so has been comparatively very quiet for the company]. We’ve been wondering what they were up to and now we have some answers.
Jemima Kiss over at The Guardian has been talking to David Goodman of CBS Interactive and he shared some interesting tidbits about Last.fm’s future direction. The company’s US audience has more than doubled in the past year, from 3.5 million unique users per month to 8 million. With this in mind CBS has some big plans for all the data that Americans are pouring into the service.
- Last.fm wants to be the definitive source of data on what people are listening to. They want to replace Soundscan as the main way of tracing the public music taste in America. As Soundscan only tracks music sales, Last.fm’s listening-based approach is much more powerful, able to track people’s tastes instead of their buying habits. As we move into a situation where increasing amounts of music is streamed instead of bought, this could be highly appealing to businesses wanting to know more about what music is doing well.
- CBS says they are planning a “Next generation chart show”. With all that information about listening, rather than buying, habits of music fans, Last.fm could power special weekly radio shows that chart the listening tastes of fans in particular countries or even cities around the world. It’s not unreasonable to think that Last.fm could supply data for a show on each of CBS’ radio stations, specially tailored for its local market.
- Last.fm has been quietly working away on data visualisation tools for music tastes like the app we featured here recently. Offering these tools to media outlets for a fee could be another source of income, we’d speculate. CBS-owned websites have been trialling this, showing basic popularity data about artists next to news stories about them, for example.
It certainly will be interesting to see how successful Last.fm is with these plans, which rely on getting its scrobbling technology built into as many devices as possible in order to make its data as rich as it can. The company already has partnerships with audio equipment manufacturers so expect more of those to be announced in future, we’d say.
There’s more detail about Last.fm’s plans in the original interview which is well worth a read.