Trying to prove itself profitable for CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS), Last.fm has retooled its continuous-stream music player to include eye candy, in preparation to serve a new range of video advertising in to the new space.
The revamped player is larger, slicker and cycles through a slideshow of the act currently playing (complete with Ken Burns effect). Last.fm’s press release dresses this up as a “Personalised Visual Music player” that offers an “unparalleled multisensory listening experience”. In truth, the addition of a few photos to the music isn’t exactly a revolutionary consumer experience – this is more about giving Last.fm another kind of advertising inventory…
“It opens up massive new visual opportunities for advertisers”, says Last.fm’s announcement, which seems spooked enough by upstart rival Spotify’s early adulation to call its audio ads “unpopular”. Last.fm’s new player “puts Spotify’s early success in perspective”, it says. While Spotify includes interruptive audio ads along with banners, Last.fm eschews the audio ad format, so has until now relied only on in-page banner sponsorships, around the player.
With the new player, it’s now courting advertisers with a promise to take ads closer to the listening experience. Last.fm tells paidContent:UK Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) has signed on to advertise through the system. Of course, it all depends on users watching the player, rather than simply listening while they work – and some users might find it downright annoying.
There are no public figures available for Last.fm but it’s clear the service is trying to make itself pay. Sixteen months after it promised to take this continuous-stream feature in to subscription territory, last month it finally erected the pay wall everywhere but the UK, US and Germany. Presumably, subscribers to the service won’t be subject to advertising. In theory, Last.fm could also use the new player to deliver its roster of music, concert and interview videos.