CBS-owned music service, which has struggled in downturn, is also scrapping radio streaming offering in most countries
CBS-owned Last.fm is to put part of its music service behind a paywall in countries including the US and UK, and is scrapping its radio streaming offering altogether in most countries.
Last.fm, which has struggled in the downturn, said that from 15 January it intends to put its desktop radio service behind a paywall in the UK, US and Germany.
It has already done this in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
However, the free ad-funded online streaming service, which is the core of Last.fm’s business and is used by tens of millions of listeners each month, is unaffected.
In Last.fm’s 2011 financial results advertising accounted for 70% of its £7.3m total global revenues and subscriptions 23%.
Last.fm, which reported a pre-tax loss of £4.4m last year, said that it is completely closing its radio service in “all other countries”, and will only offer a subscription service from 15 January.
Listener numbers in markets outside Last.fm’s eight biggest countries – which include Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and China – are thought only to number up to 20,000.
Last.fm, which was acquired by CBS for $280m in May 2007, admitted that economic conditions have forced the company to look at its business model in different markets.
The company said it is not able to provide radio streaming in the non-core countries “even to subscribers, due to licensing restrictions”.
“We will continue to look at the state of the market in other territories and hope to expand again in future as it becomes more viable,” said Last.fm. “When it can be done so economically we hope to be able to open streaming to a wider audience in the future.”
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Mervyn King’s lecture on the economy might have made headlines, but as radio it was dreary stuff
The Today Programme Lecture (Radio 4, Wednesday) is a curious beast. The last thing regular listeners might want from the flagship news programme is an off-shoot as starchy and formal as a lecture. And if they did want that, would it really be on the economy, that inescapable subject on the daily show, and delivered by yet another man?
Evan Davis did his best to enliven things as he introduced Sir Mervyn King, this year’s speaker. Davis quipped that in recent times we’ve seen “Black Monday, Tuesday, Friday and the odd Sunday”, adding that: “Thursday’s still available, I think.” And it was quickly made clear that the governor of the Bank of England doesn’t often do radio addresses: the last one in peacetime was in March 1939.
The lecture’s content might have made headlines the following morning, but as radio it was dreary stuff. Fiscal policy is tricky to make widely appealing – King used metaphors such as having to “take away the punchbowl just as the next party is getting going” – but not impossible. This was so uninvolving you swooped gratefully on the archive clips: Roosevelt telling Americans that “we have had a bad banking situation”, and Montague Norman, bank governor in 1939, with his hilariously clipped voice. He named “experience, co-operation and independence” as key qualities for the financial sector; King wants “regulation, resolution and restructuring”. Radio, though, is all about voice, communicating personality and connecting with listeners; this struggled on all three.
You can’t help but listen to Robert Peston when he’s on the radio. On Monday’s Jeremy Vine (Radio 2) show, he saw off accusations that his reports adversely affect the economy (“he should be made chancellor!” enthused one listener); on Thursday he was giving one of his crisp reports to 5 Live Breakfast from his home just as his wife was heading out. “Byeee!” she called. On getting no response, she tried again, more firmly this time (“Byeee!!”). Peston replied (“Byee darling!”) and the interview rather charmingly, cheeringly, fell to pieces.