Free the Music

Wednesday, 23 January 2008
by RJ
filed under Announcements
Comments: 334

A few days ago we sent out some cryptic invitations to a press conference in New York that Felix and Martin are presiding over. We’ve had fun in the office reading the rumors and speculation, but it’s time to spill the beans:

As of today, you can play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the Last.fm website.

Something we’ve wanted for years—for people who visit Last.fm to be able to play any track for free—is now possible. With the support of the folks behind EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner—and the artists they work with—plus thousands of independent artists and labels, we’ve made the biggest legal collection of music available to play online for free, the way we believe it should be.

Full-length tracks are now available in the US, UK, and Germany, and we’re hard at work broadening our coverage into other countries. During this initial public beta period, each track can be played up to 3 times for free before a notice appears telling you about our upcoming subscription service. The soon-to-be announced subscription service will give you unlimited plays and some other useful things. We’re also working on bringing full-length tracks to the desktop client and beyond.

Free full-length tracks are obviously great news for listeners, but also great for artists and labels, who get paid every time someone streams a song. Music on Last.fm is perpetually monetized. This is good because artists get paid based on how popular a song is with their fans, instead of a fixed amount.

We will be paying artists directly.

We already have licenses with the various royalty collection societies, but now unsigned artists can put their music on Last.fm and be paid directly for every song played. This helps to level the playing-field—now you can make music, upload it to Last.fm and earn money for each play. If you make music, you can sign up to participate for free.

We’re not printing money to pay for this—but the business model is simple enough: we are paying artists and labels a share of advertising revenue from the website.

Today we’re redesigning the music economy. There are already millions of tracks available, and we’re adding more every day. We will continue to work hard to bring this to everyone in the world.

Take it for a spin.