Free the Music - follow up Q&A

Monday, 28 January 2008
by RJ
filed under Announcements
Comments: 36

The Free the Music announcement was great fun – lots of people are enjoying having access to free full-length tracks. There were, understandably, lots of questions, so here is an FAQ that should help clear things up.

How does this affect the radio – does it restrict radio tracks at all?

Nope. There are no new limits to our existing radio services. The 3 play restriction only applies to on-demand listening. Listening to a track 3 times using the in-page preview doesn’t prevent it from playing on your radio, and of course you can also still listen to it as a 30 seconds preview instead of a full-length one.

We haven’t taken anything away by introducing this new service – your radio stations and playlists will continue to function as before.

When will I be able to stream full-length tracks in some other / my country ?

We don’t have any fixed dates for you yet – but we are looking to expand the free on-demand service to other countries and are working on roll-out plans. Watch the blog for future announcements.

I played a track but only got a 30-second clip – why?

There are four possible reasons for this:

  1. We don’t have the track in our catalogue, or we don’t have the rights to it yet – we are working to license everything so you don’t have to worry about this, but these things take time.
  2. You are not in the US, UK or Germany – our current free full-length streaming deals only cover these 3 countries. (We’re working on it, see the previous question!). There are lots of full-length tracks available globally, but the major-label stuff is currently only in these three countries.
  3. You already played it 3 times. We are working on ways to lift this restriction, and we are also planning to offer a subscription service.
  1. You’re playing it in the Last.fm desktop software (see below).

Thousands of artists and labels sign up to Last.fm every week, so we are continually adding new content available as full-length tracks. If your favourite band hasn’t made their content available yet, check back soon – hopefully it will be in the pipeline.

Can I play these free full-length tracks in the downloadable Last.fm software?

Currently the free full-length tracks are only available on the website. The downloadable app will scrobble your music taste to build up charts (an awesome way to track your music taste and discover new music), and give you access to Last.fm radio. If you’re currently getting clips in the software, you can change your playback settings here.

We pay the artists every time you play a track on Last.fm, based on a share of advertising revenue. We think ads in desktop software suck, so we aren’t currently playing full-length tracks on the desktop. That said, we are committed to doing wonderful things for music on the desktop this year, and will unveil our plans in the coming months.

How much will the subscription service cost?
Don’t have a figure for you yet, sorry. The best answer we can give about the price right now is that we are doing our best to offer Last.fm users a competitively priced subscription service.

What about existing subscribers?
We will continue to offer our current subscription package – the “unlimited listening” subscription will be a new, additional service.

Our existing subscribers will get various options to upgrade or otherwise change their subscription to take advantage of the new services. And yes, we will add a variety of useful options for the new subscription, like full album playback, playing track charts and so on.

What about the thousands of free full-length-preview (FLP) tracks?

Artists can still set their tracks to be made available completely free – globally accessible with no three-play limit, no subscription required – just as before. Artists and labels can set FLP permissions from the Music Manager interface.

At present, these tracks look the same as others – so if you find you can play a track more than three times in full-length, the artist or label will have explicitly set those permissions.

Outro
That’s it for now. I’ll update this post throughout the week to answer any other questions that come up.