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 desktop software (see below).

Thousands of artists and labels sign up to 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 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 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, 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 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.

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


  1. Damir (sidonath)
    28 January, 19:46

    Thanks for the great TMTAQ post :)

    However, I still haven’t seen the question initially posted by Joshua Carmody answered. Is this “3 times limit” a lifetime one or is it going to be reset after some time (week, month, year…)?

    Damir (sidonath) – 28 January, 19:46
  2. jayaresea
    28 January, 21:07

    Thanks for answering some of the outstanding questions. I still have one I haven’t seen addressed anywhere, and I apologize if it has been already answered (if it has been answered, could someone provide a link?).

    Will we be able to stream an entire album with one click, rather than having to manual click play on each subsequent song? Something where it automatically moves to the next song on the album’s tracklist? That’s the only thing that seems to be missing from something I’m already enjoying immensely.

    Thanks for everything you’ve provided so far, and good luck with it all.

    jayaresea – 28 January, 21:07
  3. Ra
    28 January, 21:23

    Loving your service so far.
    My website allows for quick launching of various genres.


    Ra – 28 January, 21:23
  4. Tecfan
    28 January, 22:35

    So there will be two kinds of subscriptions now? or?

    Tecfan – 28 January, 22:35
  5. Chris
    28 January, 23:51

    jayaresea – did you bother to read this post?

    “And yes, we will add a variety of useful options for the new subscription, like full album playback, playing track charts and so on.”

    Chris – 28 January, 23:51
  6. Jonty
    28 January, 23:54

    @Tecfan: Yes, there will be multiple types of tiered subscription, as RJ explains:

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

    Jonty – 28 January, 23:54
  7. Nectar_Card
    29 January, 00:43

    What else are you going to add to the new subscription package?

    On demand tracks are a good start, but is capable of offering so much more….

    ideas forum subscription wishlist

    Nectar_Card – 29 January, 00:43
  8. EduMusic
    29 January, 02:28

    An example… If you listen a track with free full-lenght preview on a global tag redio randomly, this artist get paid?

    EduMusic – 29 January, 02:28
  9. Felipe Ramos
    29 January, 08:46

    Great stuff…

    Felipe Ramos – 29 January, 08:46
  10. Marcos
    29 January, 15:19

    Thanks for the great news! :)

    I have only one comment do make, but, please, don’t lead it to personal side or understand as an offense. :)

    I think that if you will offer a service as the above mentioned, with more services, more music, more features, it will demand an “extra” care to technical support, that actually is sometines inneficient.

    Many times we, users (subscribers or not) stay without any response to our doubts, even in forum or through the online form.

    Or, sometimes, the moderators are slightly “rude”, or “impolite”. This is very bad, I think, to the image of as a service, and as a “social website”.

    But, in any case, the service is very good and I like so much of

    Marcos – 29 January, 15:19
  11. jayaresea
    29 January, 19:36

    chris –

    thanks, i did miss that somehow, despite also skimming the post a number of times before clicking “submit” just to make sure it wasn’t mentioned. and I still missed it. no excuses. so thanks.

    that said, i’m still very interested in the specifics of the full album playback feature (all albums in the catalogue, some, or just a few? would the incorrect track listings found on some albums be cleaned up?), if possible.

    jayaresea – 29 January, 19:36
  12. Joshua Carmody (vorteks)
    29 January, 21:39

    As Damir said, my question wasn’t answered. :-) Does “3 times” means “3 times EVER?”.

    Joshua Carmody (vorteks) – 29 January, 21:39
  13. Jonty
    29 January, 22:02

    That is as yet undecided. Remember, after all, this is a beta release of the service!

    Jonty – 29 January, 22:02
  14. Mach
    30 January, 03:34

    nice spam there old man

    Mach – 30 January, 03:34
  15. adam
    30 January, 04:20

    There should definitely be a visual difference between free FLP tracks and the new full-lengths.

    adam – 30 January, 04:20
  16. Andy
    30 January, 15:58

    I’m am enjoying this very much but the scrobbling from the in-page player is really sketchy, which is a big flaw. Sometimes it scrobbles every track you listen to, sometime just some and sometimes none at all.

    From a financial point of view, it would be good to sort this out soon cos I (and I assume many other people) keep going back and re-playing tracks to try to get them logged on my profile.

    Andy – 30 January, 15:58
  17. thisisall1word
    31 January, 00:03

    I’m holding my breath here…
    I wont be impressed until last fm launch this with a James Blunt tie in gig.

    Good work fellas.

    thisisall1word – 31 January, 00:03
  18. LeighBCD
    1 February, 09:07

    I have the same question as jayaresea – will it be possible under the enhanced subscription service to play an entire album with one click?

    I agree that having this facility will make pretty much perfect :-)

    LeighBCD – 1 February, 09:07
  19. Dave
    1 February, 16:07

    Looking forward to good things from

    Like the above said – would be great to have whole album full track playback (either within software or on website). Clicking each song is a pain!

    Dave – 1 February, 16:07
  20. Tony Dodd
    1 February, 16:10

    @Dave, Leigh and anyone else who’s asking this question again:

    And yes, we will add a variety of useful options for the new subscription, like full album playback, playing track charts and so on.

    Tony Dodd – 1 February, 16:10
  21. HodgeStar
    1 February, 18:36

    Just to let you know, every now and then, the flash player scrobbles tracks with the same timestamp twice.

    …and i agree with adam: “There should definitely be a visual difference between free FLP tracks and the new full-lengths.”

    HodgeStar – 1 February, 18:36
  22. Franz
    2 February, 11:19

    Hope that’s not privileged information and dunno if it has anything to do with your new services (which is highly welcomed!)… but what happened to Matador-Artists/Album? Only few Cat Power and Belle and Sebastian-Tracks licensed, virtually no New Pornographers. I hope this is not a permanent change :(

    Franz – 2 February, 11:19
  23. Russell Duarte
    2 February, 18:28

    I was so happy to hear a song from Amy Grant song I will remember you till the end, and it was out standing. Some only let you listen only a segment but, you all have done a wonderful job getting this format out to people who enjoy easy listening music. Keep up the good work. Enjoy life to its fullest cause we don’t know if tomorrow will be our last day. We will remember you.

    Russell Duarte – 2 February, 18:28
  24. gwalla
    3 February, 05:45

    I think the reason people keep asking about album streaming is because we used to be able to do it: once a track (whether it was a full-length, sample, or whatever) finished playing, the applet would automatically go on to the next one in the list. Now, it just stops, and you have to hit play again to get the next track. This is a step backwards (and, to be frank, a pain in the ass).

    gwalla – 3 February, 05:45
  25. Tad
    3 February, 22:03

    I have snooped around, but didn’t see this answered: when I play my own music on my own media player (or a CD on my laptop, for example) does the artist get paid based on that? Or is an artist ONLY paid for plays in the webpage?

    Tad – 3 February, 22:03
  26. Jonty
    3 February, 22:41

    @Tad: We only pay for music streamed from

    Jonty – 3 February, 22:41
  27. Anthony
    4 February, 12:18

    I think more than anything you should be getting as many countries enabled as possible if you truly want to ‘free the music’. So get to it. I’m sure the service is great but being in Australia and not the UK, US or Germany I kinda miss out on it. Good stuff though. I was stoked when I heard this news.

    Anthony – 4 February, 12:18
  28. Nice3266
    4 February, 21:29

    aah, dudes, nice work, go ahead, is my most important tool, greetings from germany ;-) nice

    Nice3266 – 4 February, 21:29
  29. Mike Swingler
    10 February, 19:29

    I have been considering subscribing to Napster, but am now interested in your new service. How will it differ from Napster, and in what way will it be better.

    Mike Swingler – 10 February, 19:29
  30. Nicolas
    12 February, 01:21

    Updates, anyone?

    Nicolas – 12 February, 01:21
  31. bua
    13 February, 19:43

    I basically like the idea of on-demand tracks, even so for the moment not very much changed for me (most of my favorite artists are on smaller indie lables, who dont participate with full-tracks).
    But what I really hate is the full album playback isn’t working anymore like before. You said only new features were added, but thats not true for this one. I hope the new subscription won’t be to expensive.

    Another question: Are artist only paid for on-demand playback or also when play through the standalone-lastfm-player? And even those artist who don’t have on-demand tracks at all?

    bua – 13 February, 19:43
  32. last.fm_user
    13 February, 20:46

    I’ve noticed that some tracks have an embed code- which is great.

    What determines which tracks have this code and which do not- the artist?


    last.fm_user – 13 February, 20:46
  33. gameshowhost
    15 February, 05:53

    I’m seeing that most of the bands songs are not listenable in full-length. I get mostly previews yet I’m in the US. What am I doing wrong and how do I get Free-On-Demand for almost any track?

    gameshowhost – 15 February, 05:53
  34. nelix
    16 February, 14:31

    Great news, looking forward to the release for Australia.

    nelix – 16 February, 14:31
  35. Capt
    17 February, 00:09

    yes please bring back the “play this album” option… and please bring back multiple artist/tag radio!!!!! i haven’t used the radio since you guys took that service away.

    Capt – 17 February, 00:09
  36. Floyd
    17 February, 23:49

    It’s been weeks…are we going to get an update about this? A bit premature, eh?

    Floyd – 17 February, 23:49

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