Years after CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS) acquired Last.fm, the personalized streaming music service will be added to Radio.com, the broadcaster’s online player. Radio.com, which already hosts AOL’s and Yahoo’s streaming music as part of its 130 stations and was relaunched a year ago, hopes that Last.fm will complement its existing channels by driving more traffic to its site. In turn, CBS believes that Last.fm, which already claims 40 million users, will benefit from the association with terrestrial radio streams, as the marketplace for streaming audio becomes more crowded with the emergence of cloud services from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Apple.
Earlier, CBS Interactive said it would turn to other areas that it acquired long ago. The company is relaunching its Mp3.com site, which it acquired with the Cnet purchase three years ago, with a million free downloads and additional integration with Last.fm.
Moving Last.fm to Radio.com, while maintaining the brand’s independence as a site and mobile app, fits into a strategy of bringing all CBS’ music properties closer together. “Last.fm is an ingredient brand and this news is about extending listening experiences to users, who want both traditional, curated broadcasts and personalization,” David Goodman, President, CBS Interactive Music Group. “It let’s Last.fm come to life inside another streaming media product, strengthening the appeal and reach of both.”
The integration goes in one direction, however, as Radio.com will not be featured within the Last.fm site or app. And the connection between the two is limited to Radio.com’s PC-based website. It will eventually be added to Radio.com’s mobile app, which Goodman says has been downloaded nearly 20 million times.
In addition to the competition from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Google, and Amazon through their respective cloud-based music services, Radio.com and Last.fm face continued challenges from established personalized streaming rivals like Pandora, which is seeking to raise $100 million through an IPO. Traditional broadcasters are also stepping up their digital game, as Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO) has been promoting its Thumbplay personalized streaming music service along with closer ties to XM Satellite Radio.
To Goodman, all the blurring of lines between streaming services can be seen as a good thing, as it levels the playing field a bit. The point of differentiation rests on CBS’ access to a wide range of content beyond music music, including artist bios and info, and radio station blog posts.
“The average Radio.com listener is clicking on photos, artist info, additional editorial, about 12 times per session and that’s represents a high degree of engagement to advertisers,” Goodman said. “We’re producing about 10,000 blog posts a week, so this is more than just offering streaming services. As for the competition, even in the old days of broadcast-only, most people tended to listen to more than one station. And in addition, to music, Radio.com has sports programming, news. So we see a lot of advantages to users having more choices. Because that’s what we’re ultimately offering.”