If you thought chatter about the Internet Radio Fairness Act would subside after a lackluster first hearinglast month, you thought wrong. Today, Last.fm took a course of action that should add fuel to this fire: On January 15, it will do away with its Radio feature in nearly all countries, making it a subscription feature in the U.S., UK and Germany. “We are always looking at ways to bring music to more people, when it can be done so economically, and we hope to be able to open streaming to a wider audience in the future,” the company said in a statement.
So what exactly will Radio look like come January 15? In the U.S., UK and Germany, you’ll be able to listen to free, ad-supported radio via the website. However, radio streaming within the desktop client will now cost you — you’ll have to be a subscriber to jam. For folks in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Brazil, not much is changing — they’ve had to pay €3/month since 2009.
Everyone else? Well, you’re out of luck. Even if you’re a subscriber, you’ll no longer have access to Radio — although you’ll be able to use Last.fm’s other features. Last.fm explains this turn events thusly, “We are no longer able to provide radio streaming to these countries, even to subscribers, due to licensing restrictions,” and offers subscribers refunds if they wish to leave the service.
Granted, the parties getting the worst deal here are those who live outside the U.S. (IE, the place where the Internet Radio Fairness Act is currently being argued), but the whole ordeal does beg the question: Are services such as these economical? Do they have the potential to ever be profitable? Three years ago, it was good news that Last.fm was losing less money than the year prior and we wondered if it would be profitable in the future. It seems that such is not the case.
What do you think? Will Last.fm survive these cuts?
Image courtesy of Flickr, Muffet