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Last.fm is retiring a feature whereby users could play any full song they like, and is instead outsourcing the feature to a range of third-party, cloud-based music services.
Before today, users could play tracks from artists on the corresponding track page (though WBR had still not renewed with the site). But track pages will now instead direct users to play the song on Spotify, Mog, Hype Machine, We7, Vevo and other services to come, via what it’s calling “playlinks” (see example).
Taking the music away is likely a cost-saver for Last.fm, which has always been better at crunching the social data around tracks than at music itself…
UK royalty collector PRS For Music more than halved its on-demand per-track rate last summer, from £0.0022 to £0.00085 per track – but many music sites still protest rates are excessive; in Germany, they’re far higher.
The on-demand feature had only been available in the UK, U.S. and Germany. Short track previews remain, as does non-on-demand playback (themed “radio” streams in which the user can’t pick tracks). It may mean more paid-for downloads via Last.fm’s affiliates – 7digital, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) MP3 and iTunes Store.
Last.fm is also abandoning hosting music videos for itself, which never really became comprehensive, and instead falling back on embeds from YouTube and Vevo.
Feedback is mixed.