License It & They Will Come: Free Streaming Boosts Last.fm

A shift towards free, full-length streams has boosted Last.fm traffic considerably, according to information released by parent company CBS.

The jump includes a 59 percent surge in unique visitors, and a 58 percent increase in total pageviews over the past month.  “Free is the future, and this is signaled not only by the industry’s growing acceptance of what we’re doing, but more importantly, by the incredibly fast increase of users accessing music on Last.fm since we launched free-on-demand,” said Last.fm cofounder Martin Stiksel.

Whether free is a moneymaking future for labels and content owners remains questionable, though guarded content frequently alienates would-be fans. The Last.fm plan, first announced in late January, is an advertiser-supported concept.  Additionally, Last.fm also offers ecommerce links alongside the streaming content.

The plan includes buy-in from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI, as well as independent digital distributors CD Baby, IODA, the Orchard, and Naxos.  An additional 150,000 independent labels and artists are also involved.