I really enjoyed using Last.fm over the years to keep track of the music I’ve listened to, to share my favourite artists with friends (and more recently family) and to discover similar artists. I’m starting to have second thoughts now though.
According to their official blog, they will start charging us a fee as of tomorrow if we reside outside the United States, United Kingdom and Germany.
Today we’re announcing an upcoming change to the way Last.fm Radio works in some parts of the world. In the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, nothing will change.
In all other countries, listening to Last.fm Radio will soon require a subscription of €3.00 per month. There will be a 30 track free trial, and we hope this will convince people to subscribe and keep listening to the radio. Everything else on Last.fm (scrobbling, recommendations, charts, biographies, events, videos etc.) will remain free in all countries, like it is now.
So let me get this right: you guys are going to continue to exploit and perform data mining on my listening habits and charge me to subsidise free services for select parts of the world instead of charging everyone? That’s not cool.
I wouldn’t have minded paying for Last.fm. But paying because I’m from the wrong country? That’s the most insulting thing any online service (or offline for that matter) has ever done.
The fee isn’t what rubs me the wrong way here, it’s the selective and abrupt way in which they’ve decided to announce and implement it. Ironically my dad and I have been using Last.fm so heavily lately to show our musical interests we were both considering buying voluntary subscriptions; I even suggested it as a birthday present just this previous Friday… I have the email to prove it!
Damn my Aussie passport!
I guess we’ll be saving some money now and sticking to using it as a record of the songs we’ve played and to generate our own charts: no more listening to music on the site itself. Heck if I find another site that allows you to do the same thing or similar I’ll be leaving last.fm and deleting my account in a heartbeat.
My concern is that this could well spell the beginning of the end for the site. Fewer people are going to use the site if a subscription is required, which… would reduce advertising revenue…. It is quite likely that it will not recoup the loss. An alternative would have been to contact members saying "hey, we’re in a bit of trouble – please consider taking out a subscription." A donation model, in my opinion, would have been a better option (at least at first).
A non geometric tangent thingy
Last.fm was a brilliant website. Cynically, this is why I’m not the least bit surprised this has happened. I can count on one hand the number of reputable free websites that offered services that haven’t pulled stunts like this.
It also speaks to the [lack of] integrity on the Internet in general, and how we shouldn’t expect anything to be permanent or reliable. The lesson here is the Internet is a transient, fickle thing run by people with short memory and attention spans and thus should not to be taken seriously. In other words, the internet is turning out just like the real world. As I said, I’m not surprised as much as I am just sorely disappointed.
In the meantime, I’ll be looking into alternative sites to "scrobble" to and keep track of songs I’ve played. I’ve heard good things about blip.fm, will have to investigate.