In a surprise move today last.fm announced that their radio feature will only be available for subscribers outside the US, UK and Germany. Subscription costs 3 Euro for a month. The way I understand it this will affect everything from friend channels to recommendation radios. Non-subscribers will be eligible for 30 tracks of free samples then they will need to subscribe to continue listening.
The only grey area for me is how they will decide who’s in the US and who’s not. Is this based on IP-detected geolocation or simply the user’s country setting? Also if I downloaded my iPhone app from the US iTunes Store do I count as a US user?
It is easy to tell that even though 3 Euro is not that high a price this change will be extremely unpopular. The announcement post is already filling with comments expressing emotions ranging from dissatisfaction to pure white hot rage. And I am not entirely sure that that the sometimes really bad quality, slow streaming and “not enough content” errors won’t prevent many from even considering subscribing.
It would really be helpful in understanding the situation if they actually released any information as to why this change was necessary. Is it the music industry trying to squeeze more money out of them or a corporate decision from CBS? Also what is the money going to be used for? Is it going to fill the pockets of the label owners or the actual musicians?
Sorting out the issues with the radio service and the usually meager content first wouldn’t have been a bad idea either. People are a lot more likely to pay for something that’s actually worth it.