Last.fm will abandon its subscription radio streaming service on April 28.
The company has been slowly withdrawing from this space for some time, killing off its homegrown player last year in most markets and prioritizing its ability to record, or “scrobble” the tracks its users are listening to through other apps.
Radio was still available in the US, UK and Germany; free and ad-supported on the Web, or ad-free with a subscription. This feature was also offered in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Brazil, but only for Last.fm subscribers.
As of next month though, subscriber radio will no longer exist. It will still be possible to listen to radio stations using its new YouTube-powered music player, or through the Spotify integration announced in January, however.
Last.fm will continue to offer a subscription package though. The company is giving listeners the ability to filter stations by specific tags and offering a 30 percent discount on Last.fm merchandise. That’s in conjunction with its existing features, which include the removal of banner ads on its site and mobile apps.
“Over ten years, our goal has always been to allow people around the world to discover new music with as few limitations or restrictions as possible,” the company said in a forum post. “However, the music landscape has changed considerably during that time and we’ve been forced to make some very difficult decisions surrounding our core products and services.
“In response we’ve chosen to focus on what we think Last.fm does best: scrobbling, music discovery, and recommendations.”
In short, Last.fm wants to cull its music licensing costs. Now that the company doesn’t facilitate any of the streaming itself – that’s all been left to Spotify and YouTube – it won’t have to worry about paying for, and offering a comprehensive catalog in all of the markets where it operates.
The move isn’t too surprising though. Last.fm’s true strength has always been in its ability to archive listening habits and offer recommendations based on them, rather than a self-contained music streaming services. The rise of on-demand services such as Spotify, Rdio and Deezer – which all offer their own Internet radio options – has only accelerated that state of affairs in recent years.
Still, it seems admirable that Last.fm is prepared to fight on in a reduced form, rather than simply shut up shop completely. Selling its vast amounts of ‘scrobbling’ data is probably where the real money is, anyway.
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