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Update: Today’s last.fm announcement is about music — an on-demand music service, to be exact. Details here. As for that video service, we’…

Update: Today’s last.fm announcement is about music — an on-demand music service, to be exact. Details here. As for that video service, we’ll keep you posted.

One of the questions that comes up repeatedly in chats about CBS: what is the company doing to move last year’s $280 million Last.fm acquisition beyond buzz into value? Looks like answers may be on the way. CBS (NYSE: CBS) has called a press conference tomorrow with CEO Leslie Moonves and Last.fm co-founders Felix Miller and Martin Stiksel; no details but to announce “a new unprecedented service” — a video service, we’re hearing, likely mixed with social networking given Last.fm’s bent. So far, the UK start-up’s experience with video has been focused on music videos syndicated from YouTube to match music on Last.fm.

Moonves and Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, have talked about using Last.fm’s technology across the company. When Moonves spoke at Mipcom in October, he said: “One of the reasons we liked the idea of buying it is, if we can develop a great social networking site around this music content, why couldn

  1. Thanks for the update – will be interesting to see what they have come up with.

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  2. It's nice to see a corporation like CBS trying on new models of business. It shows a sense of progression and adaptability.

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  3. People are pretty dedicated/passionate about their music so I can imagine that the Last.fm experience being diluted if it expanded into content that you weren't as particular about. This might not apply to everyone but music seems to hold a special grip on people and I'm not sure the love of discovering new music and tracking your musical tastes necesairly applies to other content areas.

    Or put another way, is Last.fm the platform everyone would choose to aggregate their content graph?

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  4. I see this as a horrible idea. Then again, my view is rather biased, given that I've been an loyal Last.fm user since 2005. When I discovered Last.fm, I was taken by its single-minded focus on music — sort of a MySpace or Facebook without the nonsense. Last.fm adherents use it not so much for social networking but for discovering new music. I don't really care what what my "neighbors" or "friends" on Last.fm watch on TV or at the theater. Nor do I much care what teams they cheer for or which political candidates they support. All I care about is whether they're musical tastes are similar to mine, because my main interest in being a Last.fm user is finding new music that appeals to my sensibilities. I fear that CBS's push to monetize Last.fm will drain the site of its appeal to longtime users and fail to attract many new ones. It'd be like trying to turn a beloved local record shop into a store that sells sells movies, clothes, furniture and groceries when there's already a Wal-Mart and Target on the block. The old shoppers will probably start to resent it, and potential new shoppers won't see a point in stopping by when they've already got their routines down at the big box outlets.

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  5. I really think Last.fm is fantastic. I am always amazed by the awesome music recommendations it gives me. I think that technology could be simply revolutionnizing for video. There are so many awesome videos out there on sites such as Youtube, imagine a Last.fm Video filter that provides personalized recommendations, so you keep getting amazed by the recommendations that just perfectly fit you.

    I would like Last.fm to add these features:

    - Personalized recommendations filtered by genre, mixed with Loved tracks by genre. Basically this would provide an automatic DJ'ing function. So for example I could set Last.fm up to play lots of party tracks at a party. And perhaps have it synchronize with a Pioneer type of hardware but very cheap type that let's me preview the next songs, re-arrange them and mix them live.

    - "Download all songs by this artist" feature. Artists are able to add songs that Last.fm users can download for free. I'd like to download all songs in one click, even if it would cost me a few cents per gygabyte and that it downloads through a Last.fm download manager integrated with the player software. And also download x amount of GB of songs from my recommendations and from my Loved tracks. Basically this feature would be to fill up my Mp3 player with music that I like, that I need to discover, that fits my taste, complete discographies for artists which I loved one of their songs, basically fill up my Mp3 player without me having to think too much what to put on it.

    - Let me pay the artists through Last.fm. I'd like to pay for example $5 per month which I would like to reward all the artists that I listen to a lot. Especially the artists who's song I love on Last.fm, especially the artists who provide me with free Mp3 downloads. So based on popularity and quality, this Voluntary Artists Money should be redistributed by Last.fm. The idea is that millions of Last.fm users could fund a lot of artists, giving them an incentive to release all their music on Last.fm as free Mp3 downloads so they can earn a larger amount of money this way. Integrate this with countries legislation on the global licence, so people through taxes can reward the most popular and the highest quality artists. So Last.fm this way could provide the statistics to reward all the artists fairly.

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  6. I'm following this with great attention, hopefully they don't screw up the gem they already have. In fact I'm listening to last.fm right now.

    If they expand its focus it I hope they do so offsite, same technology on a different domain. I'm already working on a site which is just my thoughts on last.fm. Originally it was a more ambitious idea, soft-warily speaking, but last.fm's "shoutbox" concept plugs into their master song database direct (and you got to wonder how they will moderate all that, because you know it will get interesting)

    So my databased ramblings will end up more detached from particular songs, on my own server, because I can't interface the social network directly, so what's the point of reinventing a beautiful implementation? But this falls on deaf ears right now, because you people have no idea how sweet the per-song-shoutbox is, not yet anyway. Give it time.

    I tell everyone about last.fm, some listen to me, but often people are stuck on old listening habits (shame on you, addicted to burning P2P) I think this is why it's not catching on like wildfire, but no doubt it's growing steadily. And they seem to be adding more "growth" tools like "paste your taste".

    The neighbor concept is useful, depending on what you listen to, but like someone above said, I'm usually disappointed by the "neighborhood radio" option. That's no fault of last.fm, I would probably find the neighborhood more useful if my taste wasn't so specific. However one person temporarily in my neighborhood had many similar interests, we even drove the same car.

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  7. What I take away from the announcement is not that they will change last.fm to include other forms of entertainment directly, but rather that they will use last.fm's technology and expertise to build a new entity based around television/video. My intuition is that last.fm will remain much as it is, and that at most it might also become a testing ground for new features for the yet to be announced site. I may be wrong, but I think that the people at last.fm are pretty passionate about it, and won't have it devolve into a myspace/generic social networking site clone.

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  8. I agree with eric – if today's (or is it trmw's) announcement is about a "video version" of the last.fm scrobbling technology, they would certainly brand it something else. Given their owners, it might even be CBS-branded?

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