Since last week’s announcement of our track page beta and streaming changes we’ve been receiving tons of feedback. Responses have come via this blog, our discussion forums, and elsewhere, and we’ve been paying attention to both the positive and the negative. The fact that so many of you are taking the time to offer thoughts and constructive criticism means a lot to us.
The team spent the better part of last week looking at a few different improvements we might be able to introduce in response to some of this feedback. In particular, we first wanted to address the requests from the many independent artists who use our Music Manager to upload their tracks directly onto Last.fm.
Our renewed focus on the features that make Last.fm unique — scrobbling, personalised radio, and being the online home for your music taste –– means we won’t be returning our own on-demand track offering. Instead, based on your suggestions, we’ll be connecting people to more streaming services in more countries by the end of the year, partners that focus squarely on providing the best on-demand experience possible and scrobbling it. We also have plenty of new music discovery and exploration improvements coming to the Last.fm website and beyond, helping make your scrobbles even more useful to you.
However, today we’re happy to announce that unsigned artists who hold global rights to their music will soon be able to again offer tracks in full to their fans via their track pages. For the first time, this option will be clearly labeled as “Play direct from artist”, and the plays will scrobble via an improved player. As with the previous “full-length preview” option this replaces, these plays are considered promotional and don’t accrue royalties via the Artist Royalty Programme. In fact there are no further changes to the ARP, so as before, plays on Last.fm radio will continue to earn royalties. We hope this helps close the scrobbling loop for artists who can’t easily get exposure for their music on other services.
We’ll also be looking at other improvements for music manager artists, including better ways of showcasing promoted tracks on your artist profile and the ability to link your account to content you may host elsewhere. However our top priority is to get the work done on the new “Play direct from artist” feature and release it as soon as possible. The next available slot to go live with this functionality is in the third week of May. Pushing new updates live on a site with more than 40 million users a month takes time — not just for development but also QA, testing, and translation into 12 languages!
We’ll follow up this post in a couple of days with another one where Matt Knapman will explain a little more about the development process at Last.fm, how we gathered your feedback, and a little about plans for community support as a whole. In the meantime, keep it coming.