Last.fm Cuts Back on Full-Length Clips, Videos

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Last.fm is no longer hosting full-length songs or videos on its site, and instead outsourcing the action.

The outsourced partner list includes MOG, The Hype Machine, We7, YouTube, and eventually Vevo, a structure that undoubtedly lowers overhead for the CBS-owned company.

The move, wryly described by the Register as ‘Less.fm,’ does not affect paid subscribers or Last.fm Radio streams.  Last.fm also noted that on-demand is actually less-demanded than other site aspects.  “Consistent with how people have used Last.fm since the early days, engagement with features like user profiles and personalized radio stations has remained much higher than usage of on-demand playback,” explained Last.fm’s Matthew Ogle.

The move cuts costs, but affects the user experience by creating something less controlled and more choppy.  The question is whether users will keep sampling and scrobbling despite this decision, or drift away because of the lack of direct, on-demand streaming.  Either way, the shift underscores the difficult monetization puzzle that surrounds free, full-length streams.  The on-demand structure offers an alternative from piracy but so far, has offered little economic upside for the providers and rights holders involved.