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Last.fm now offers Less.fm

Scrobbler nobbles free full-track streams

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CBS-owned music site Last.fm offers Less.fm today, after a decision to stop streaming full length tracks. Instead, it will provide a 30-second preview of a song and a link to other sites carrying the full song, such as Spotify and Mog.

The company explains that the new arrangement covers the two million most popular tracks. It doesn't apply to subscribers or to pre-programmed radio-style streams, and the free streaming service was available in the US, the UK and Germany. Two years ago Last.fm unveiled what it described as a free global jukebox.

Not everyone's happy.

"The folks at Last.fm are telling us it is raining while pissing on the paying subscribers heads," writes one Last.fm fan, who explains: "For years when one clicked one time too many on a full length preview, a page appeared talking about how a Beta Unlimited Play program was in the works. This turnaround may or may not send fans scrambling to other sites, but it certainly spells the end of the Last.fm model that allowed unsigned artists to find fans and fans to find obscure unsigned music."

There's more here.

There's a division of opinion in the music industry about the value of free streaming sites. They've been touted as a more peaceful way of 'behaviour change', luring people away from unlicensed sites. Universal Music takes this view, and is an investor in Spotify. Others, such as Warner's boss Ed Bronfman, are skeptical. In an earnings call in February Bronfman said Spotify-type services were "not net positive for the industry", He vowed Warner would not license Spotify and similar services in the US.

So much for exciting new services heralding a new dawn in (That's enough - Ed). ®

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