New listeners tuning into Spotify and Last.fm

Online music services such as Spotify and Last.fm are rapidly picking up new listeners, new research has revealed. Rajar, the radio audience measurement body, has seen figures for "personal radio" services hit 4.5 million users in the UK through November….

Myspace Music goes live in the UK

As well as the addition of Myspace Music charts and iTunes download links, the Myspace Music launch will be complimented by a host of exclusive content from the likes of 50 Cent, Alicia Keys and Lost Prophets.

Last.fm launches visual radio

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It’s important for Last.fm to do some shouting at the moment to prove there’s more to life than Spotify and Comes With Music. There is, and to prove what an excellent service they still are, they’ve launched a visual radio player.

At the heart of it, it’s still the same beast except now you get pretty pictures in a slideshow of whoever it is you’re listening to. They’ve also added combo stations whereby you can add more than one artist, tag or genre to your radio choice to receive a stream of more specific, more tailored music. So, now there’s no excuse not to listen to 80s, Pirate Metal, featuring Dolly Parton radio apart from the obvious.

Finally, Last.fm has added a history to the radio player so you can see exactly what you have and haven’t been playing. All good reasons to return what is still the best music discovery service on the web.

(via Last.fm blog)

Last.FM subscription service put on hold – radio still free for now

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Last.FM has decided to postpone the obligatory subscription to receive their radio streaming service outside of the UK, US and Germany for now.

According to the company blog, they’re going to add some more features to make the package more palatable including the inclusion of third party APIs, which means that although the service will be limited, radio streaming will continue to mobile phones even outside of the UK, US and Germany.

Payment plans and methods have obviously been an issue as Last.Fm is introducing gift subscriptions and SMS services to make it easier for you to cough up the three euros. So, a reprieve it is but for how long, another question.

(via Last HQ)

Last.fm wades into YouTube music video row

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In our discussion yesterday about the barney that’s erupted between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society(which collects cash for songwriters), I mentioned Pandora’s exit from the UK market due to hefty PRS fees.

Well, now Last.fm has weighed into the debate with its own take on things. Founder Martin Stiksel says that both sides need to find a resolution – and quick – before less-than-legal alternatives take hold. Stiksel wants cheaper and “less complicated” licenses as a result:

“It is a fundamental problem that we have been facing in that online music licensing is getting more complicated and more expensive. We pay each time one users listens to a song or watches a clip and, while that is more accurate because it makes sure the more popular songs get paid more, it is also very expensive. Terrestial radio pays a fixed minimum and that works out a lot cheaper – we have to find commercially workable rates otherwise illegal services will win and take over.”

Last.fm currently relies heavily on YouTube for its video content, so it has a vested interest in keeping the service going. The service has Last.tv in the works for the future, though, as a way of serving personalized music television to people. That could be interesting when it happens.

PRS and Google are due to meet over the next few days to see if they can find a resolution to the crisis.

Last.fm (via BBC)

Last.fm accused of handing U2 album leak user data to the RIAA

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If you’ve been listening to a leaked copy of U2’s “No Line on the Horizon”, then it’s possible that the RIAA know exactly who you are, if you believe Techcrunch who got all in a tizzy on Friday over the suggestion that Last.fm has been handing over listener data to the record company.

Last.fm immediately denied the accusations, saying:

I’d like to issue a full and categorical denial of this. We’ve never had any request for such data by anyone, and if we did we wouldn’t consent to it.

Of course we work with the major labels and provide them with broad statistics, as we would with any other label, but we’d never personally identify our users to a third party – that goes against everything we stand for.

The RIAA followed that up, with:

“[We’re] not sure where that rumor came from. It’s not true.”

So you’re probably safe for now, but given how much personal data many people share on Last.fm, if you’re one of the first with a copy of a leaked album, then you might want to be careful about scrobbling that fact. Just a thought.

VIDEO: Spotify iPhone application in action

Digital Buzzard’s managed to get hold of a video of a Spotify iPhone application in action. We’ve been aware of the iPhone app being in development for a while, as well as an S60 app, and presumably an Android one, but we haven’t seen it running before now.

As you can imagine, it looks fantastic. It promises to give you access to over-the-air streaming of Spotify’s entire music library, as well as playlist access. Best of all, you’ll be able to cache playlists while in Wi-Fi areas so that you’ll be able to play them back when you’re on the go. Initially it’ll only be available to Premium users (presumably because it’s tricky to work out how to serve ads in cached mode).

But the big question here is “will Apple let them do it?”. This service completely replaces everything that the iTunes store does on the device, offering on-demand access to songs. We’ve seen what happens when companies try to improve existing iPhone functionality.

That said, Last.fm exists happily on the device. The difference might be that the Last.fm application won’t let you listen to tracks on-demand, just offers you various radio stations based on your listening habits. It won’t cache songs, either.

Proper streaming mobile music is the holy grail for a lot of people. Already I barely listen to my MP3 collection on my PC any more, relying almost totally on Spotify. If I could get it on my mobile phone, too, reliably, then my Zune might end up totally retired.

(via Digital Buzzard)

T-Mobile adds Last.fm and Wikipedia to its mobile jukebox service

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This is potentially game-changing for mobile music. T-Mobile has added music-discovery functionality from Last.fm to its mobile jukebox service. The addition means that users of the service can simply put in an artist’s name, and they’ll receive a list of other musicians that they might like.

With each option presented, you’ll have the option to stream a 30 second preview (why not a full preview?) and then buy the track. Users will also get plenty of biographical info about the artist, thanks to a partnership with Wikipedia.