Last.fm to start charging for their radio streaming service

Posted by berto on March 25, 2009

Yesterday Last.fm announced important changes in their radio streaming service.

The most obvious one is that from now on users will have to pay a monthly fee of €3.00 to continue using their radio stations (except in Germany, the USA and the UK, where the service will remain free).

This is sad news for all Last.fm users (and music lovers in general) as it appears to be a consequence of the licensing agreements that Last.fm has with labels and the royalties they have to pay on streaming music (this article from last month gives some details on this).

Besides this, a post in one of the Last.fm forums adds a couple of things:

  1. The old API to stream music will disappear in a few weeks. Unless I’m missing something, that implies that all clients (official and third party) will stop working, and upgrading them is required to continue using the service.
  2. Streaming music to mobile phones will not be permitted (a comment in the same thread explains that this restriction applies only to phones, so Nokia tablets are not affected).

The new API and its details haven’t been published yet, and I don’t know how this could affect open source clients.

My plans are to continue using Last.fm (since I still think it’s a great service) and to keep working on Vagalume, but right now the future is uncertain so we’ll have to wait for a few weeks to see how all this ends up.

Update 25 Mar 2009 18:16:03 +0100: Rob Taylor asked about open source clients and the answer is that Open source apps can apply for an API key at the moment, and that won’t change.

Update 28 Mar 2009 16:57:16 +0100: It had already been said in the initial post, but another comment in the same thread confirms that you need a subscriber account to be able to use third-party clients, even if you’re in the UK, US or Germany.