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Last.fm Adds Ads to Free Streaming Music On-Demand

Jan 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

CBS-owned Last.fm, the music and social-networking Web site, is expanding to a platform that offers full-length streaming music recordings on demand for free.
The global service will be ad-supported, and is considered by CBS to represent a very lucrative opportunity for advertisers seeking engaged and very targetable audiences.
CBS ad sales was prepped to begin contacting its universe of sponsors about purchasing mini billboards that appear next to the onscreen player as soon as Wednesday’s press conference announcing the initiative ended.
CBS bought Last.fm for $280 million in May 2007.
“It is clear to us that communities built around great content are increasingly driving traffic and revenue online,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of the CBS Corp. “We acquired Last.fm because music is one of the best ways to build communities on the Internet. Adding such a tremendous collection of content to Last.fm will help it grow by leaps and bounds. The skill set that we’re learning along the way will be very important as we build additional online communities around our other world-class content as well.”
Viewers can expect to see and hear mentions of Last.fm during the Garth Brooks concert airing on CBS at 9 p.m. Friday and during “The 50th Annual Grammy Awards,” which will air at 8 p.m. Feb. 10 on CBS.
Since it was founded as a site featuring clips and users’ recommendations in 2002, Last.fm has grown to a library of some 3.5 million tracks, billed as the largest licensed catalog online, and a community of more than 20 million unique monthly users in 240 countries.
The site has pay-per-play licensing agreements with major labels including Universal Music Group, Sony/BMG, Warner and EMI, other aggregators and more than 150,000 independent labels and artists.
A similar “real-time revenue” artist royalty deal will be offered to unlicensed artists who use Last.fm to launch and promote themselves.
The music “gets perpetually monetized,” said Felix Miller, Last.fm co-founder and CEO, who described the concept as “pretty much the world’s biggest jukebox and it’s free.”
Due to the licensing deals, a user can play the same song only three times for free before being offered a chance to purchase it—from partners including iTunes, Amazon and 7 Digital—or move on to another song.
Although various levels of user privacy are going to be available, the ultimate experience is based on user profiles and recommendations spun off of them to others in the Last.fm community. Users also will have access to profiles, ticket and concert information, charts listing the most popular tracks and Web requisites such as widgets.
Martin Stiksel, co-founder and chief content officer, declined to explain how Last.fm tracks usage on its site, which does not require log-ins, beyond the information included in the users’ profiles.
He said Toyota appears to be “very interested” in the new and bigger concept.

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