Tags:


Last FM sold
May 30, 2007 4:34 AM   Subscribe

Social networking/music discovery site Last.FM has been sold to CBS for $280 million. Much as love the service, I can't help thinking that this feels like 2000 all over again...
posted by Cobbler (73 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Someone help me out here... does this mean that:

a) CBS has a handy place to stream internet radio (effectively) without the RIAA getting it's mits on stupid amounts of money or
b) Last.fm will be forced to pay the RIAA fees as an American radio provider, and the service will be crippled.
posted by twine42 at 4:42 AM on May 30, 2007


b, twine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:52 AM on May 30, 2007


I'm fairly disapointed with Last.fm, actually. I just started using it a few weeks ago, and I find it unintuitive and difficult to use. Also, I can't seem to edit what I've scrobbed, and since it insists on scrobbing everything I play with iTunes, now all my friends know about my CBC/BBC/NPR podcast addiction. I can't imagine what kind of music it will start recommending based on what info it's getting - some kind of Dispatches/This American Life medley?
posted by jb at 4:53 AM on May 30, 2007


This new bubble won't burst until Google starts to slide. I'd give that a few more years.
posted by reklaw at 4:54 AM on May 30, 2007


great. now we'll all have to get cbs.com logins.
posted by felix betachat at 4:57 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love last.fm. Don't use it as much as I should, but the streaming Artist / Tag / Recomendation radio is great. I do think they could make their artist upload system a bit simpler. But this deal does scare me - as with twine42, I'm concerned about this deal meaning it's now American, and I worry that might mean the death of it.

What, exactly, about it is worth so much fucking money? Simply the number of eyeballs looking at the site? All that data on people's listening habits? The potential to use it to promote artists / channels of content?
posted by Jimbob at 4:59 AM on May 30, 2007


So instead if IPO's every web startup is now betting their survival on a buyout?
posted by PenDevil at 5:00 AM on May 30, 2007


:s/if/of
posted by PenDevil at 5:03 AM on May 30, 2007


jb: there's a small gray link at the bottom of your "recent tracks" listing on the profile page which says "edit/see more". Click on it and you'll see all your recent tracks with a little trash icon to the right. Perfect for hiding your secret addiction to Shakira. Um. Right.

Also you can pick "pause submissions" from the last.fm program running on your computer when you want to switch to silent running.

The longer you use it and the more it knows about your music tastes, the more interesting its recommendations will get.
posted by felix betachat at 5:03 AM on May 30, 2007


Except for facebook.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 AM on May 30, 2007


What's more, First Tuesday is back.
posted by Cobbler at 5:06 AM on May 30, 2007


Shit, I've only just discovered that they now have a Flash-based player, with an embedable version... Man I love last.fm, this better not mess them up.
posted by Jimbob at 5:06 AM on May 30, 2007


Good on the founders - they've made a great product and deserve every penny they get. Been using it since its early days as audioscrobbler and it's easily one of my favourite sites on the web.
posted by muthecow at 5:06 AM on May 30, 2007


They have all this data on people's listening habits. That's why it is worth so much money. They were probably making crap loads selling it to advertisers anyway I would imagine.
posted by chunking express at 5:07 AM on May 30, 2007


$280 million was nothing in 2000.
posted by pruner at 5:16 AM on May 30, 2007


I stopped using my last.fm account/scrobbler some time ago, but decided to pick it up again a few months back, and discovered that the old system of a tiny winamp plugin wasn't enough any more, and I had to use this bloated last.fm software as well, so I uninstalled it.

After the news of CBS taking over, I decided I might as well delete my account and all its data, but it seems despite giving me the option to delete my account, last.fm refuses to accept my password - says it's invalid - to perform that operation. And it doesn't seem like an account specific issue - I checked on another never used account, where the same 'invalid password' message comes up.

I wonder if this has always been or is a recent CBS take-over related 'feature'?
posted by Blue Stone at 5:20 AM on May 30, 2007


felix betachat - thanks. It seems that the podcasts are off my recent tracts list, but I'll know how to remove them next time. Though I'm intrigued - what would a folk-rocky-human issues report-song sound like?

I am intrigued by the radio thing. Some of my friends are managing to run a streaming radio, but I don't know how to start that. Also, some of my tracks are either not correctly tagged or simply unavailable on the system. Are songs uploaded from my computer, or are they simply matching music in a database?
posted by jb at 5:21 AM on May 30, 2007


I've been using last.fm mainly just to track what my music habits are. I'll have to check out the recommendations radio station though to see if its any good. Hopefully the CBS buyout won't adversely affect the site.
posted by fallenposters at 5:23 AM on May 30, 2007


Cool. Maybe with $280million, they can finally build a decent plugin that actually picks up tracks you've listened to on an iPod!

(I kid, I kid, I've been a fan ever since the old Audioscrobbler days - but damn, that not recognising iPod plays thing is annoying. Dunno if that's just me, though...)
posted by flashboy at 5:26 AM on May 30, 2007


Crap. My wife loves Last.fm. I hope it doesn't get ruined for her.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:26 AM on May 30, 2007


Scrobbler seemed like a very good idea to me, but it always seemed to bring my Mac to a crawl. I disabled out of frustration months ago. Anyone else have this problem? It wasn't critical enough for me to research it further, as I only ran out of mere curiosity.
posted by psmealey at 5:33 AM on May 30, 2007


My first instinct is to delete my account, but we'll see what happens and how I feel over the next couple of weeks.
posted by TheDonF at 5:37 AM on May 30, 2007


nthing crap. I use last.fm frequently -- the streaming radio bit has really opened my eyes to some great new music. Now hey, maybe last.fm will end up like Pandora and block everybody non-US, or start sucking in some other grotendously craptastic way.

buh.
posted by the dief at 5:38 AM on May 30, 2007


I had an Audioscrobbler account, briefly, years ago. Only recently, while doing a (very-important-and-totally-not-vanity-at-all...for-real-believe-me) google search for my business-related handle (which, before it was more legitimately business related, I used as a handle on places like audioscrobbler and flickr), and suddenly there were all these hits coming up for Last.Fm/user/me (as well as for flickr) BEFORE legitimate pages for my actual business and website (great).

Aside from that being an annoying unforseen (for me, and as yet, unfixable, for me) consequence of large communal sites allowing user pages to be search and rankable, I didn't realize Audioscrobbler had become Last.Fm. So I was surprised and confused that my account on some dinky, buggy service used for 2 weeks, years ago, would have shuffled my data off to a bigger one. I kind of remeber the name "last.fm" being mentioned on that site but I don't think they were the exactly same thing back then.

Anyways, deja vu all over again.

Does this mean people will try less hard to save internet radio?
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 5:39 AM on May 30, 2007


had to use this bloated last.fm software

I just use it with amarok (and xbmc before my xbox crapped itself)... no bloat at all, and it seems almost psychic to me.
posted by pompomtom at 5:42 AM on May 30, 2007


It's to take another moment to be grateful for MetaFilter, a social networking site that's concerned with the personalities of its members (even though most of you suck), rather than the demographic and marketing data they generate.

What are the odds of convincing matthowie and pb to start integrating features like photo sharing, music tracking and video uploading?
posted by felix betachat at 5:44 AM on May 30, 2007


um...make that "It's time to take..."
posted by felix betachat at 5:45 AM on May 30, 2007


@flashboy: I use LastPod to scrobble my "iTunesDB/Play Counts" from my iPod, and it seems to work well.
posted by ktrey at 5:45 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've never understood the appeal of the place. I got an account ages ago but every time I go to the site I can't really think of anything useful that it does.
posted by dobbs at 5:46 AM on May 30, 2007


ktrey - cheers for that! I was actually just about to check out AudioPod (iSproggler being horribly glitchy), but nice to know that it's been updated and namechanged and stuff...
posted by flashboy at 5:52 AM on May 30, 2007


Most of the features I find useful (and use) on last.fm could easily be added to the features of iTunes (are you listening Steve) or a third party plugin. I like to see my own data and be able to export a snippet of code to a website showing recent tracks. For all I know these things already exist elsewhere already I just haven't stumbled upon them.

Heck, I still use the old (unsupported) audioscrobbler plugin because most of my listening is done on my iPod and not sitting at my computer listening to iTunes.
posted by terrapin at 5:53 AM on May 30, 2007


not sitting at my computer

The trick is to turn it way the fuck up.
posted by pompomtom at 5:55 AM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Dang. I'm joining the ranks of concerned how this will end, especially for those of us outside of the US. I've enjoyed the service so far, and have been amazed at how much music I actually listen to.
posted by vagabond at 6:03 AM on May 30, 2007


So instead if IPO's every web startup is now betting their survival on a buyout?

Sounds like a nice, safe exit strategy to me.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:04 AM on May 30, 2007


Entrepreneurs building small companies to sell to big companies isn't even particularly Web-specific.

When you're starting flickr or last.fm, your product isn't a flickr account or a last.fm account and your customers aren't account holders; your product is the software and the people who maintain it and your customer is a company that wants to offer the service you've designed themselves.
posted by mendel at 6:17 AM on May 30, 2007


I used and really loved the LastFM service for tracking my listening habits...until I purchased a Creative Zen. Up until that point, I had my laptop plugged into my stereo, and would listen to my MP3s and various LastFM stations all day long. But now all of my music has migrated to my Zen (much smaller & easier to plug into the stereo, and I listen to it at my desk all day long with some mini-speakers), and there is no Audioscrobbler plugin for the Zen, so I can't track my music listening habits any longer.

I *do* still use LastFM all the time to explore new artists and genres of music. All in all, it's a good thing, and I hope that this CBS buyout doesn't ruin it.
posted by ekstasis23 at 6:17 AM on May 30, 2007


I've got a baaaaad feeling about this.

Of course, this also throws last.fm into the licensing melee where they weren't before (being a UK company and all). So maybe it will increase the pressure.
posted by dw at 6:26 AM on May 30, 2007


Mixed feelings on this one. I've had a last.fm account for the last couple years, and have probably continuously logged everything I've listened to at home or work that's not on a physical medium for the last year. The main last.fm software may be kind of bloaty, but there are plugins and standalone programs lightweight enough to suit my needs (iSproggler on Windows, iScrobbler still exists on the Mac). I've even had my iPod synching working perfectly, and jumped through some hoops to work around my work web proxy so that I can log what I listen to at work. I've also donated to the site fairly regularly so that I can get the extended stats and such.

Congrats to the last.fm team, may you find more success with fewer limitations now that the money's there. And hopefully the users will benefit as well.
posted by mikeh at 6:33 AM on May 30, 2007


I hope last.fm doesn't change too much. I just started using it last month and it has made afternoons in the office so much more bearable.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:06 AM on May 30, 2007


Huh. I was expecting Yahoo, not CBS.
posted by danb at 7:12 AM on May 30, 2007


Also: Metafilter Scrobblers
posted by danb at 7:13 AM on May 30, 2007


This kind of corporate acquisition rarely, rarely, ends well.

I've been submitting my listening habits to Last.FM for more than 4 years, more than 30,000 tracks. I know nothing lasts forever, but MAN does this bum me out.

And I only started making these über awesome listening habits visualizations.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:15 AM on May 30, 2007


Maybe I was using it wrong, but it seemed great at introducing me to music I already liked and new about, and people who liked the same things as me. CBS paid $280 million for a site that tells me if I like Iron Maiden I should check out Black Sabbath?
posted by metaldark at 7:17 AM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yay! Another thing I kind of enjoy eaten up by a bloated corporate entity, which will eventually alter everything I enjoy about the site into one long, flashing Toyota advertisement.
posted by gcbv at 7:36 AM on May 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


You can read our take on the news over at the new Last.fm blog. (Executive summary: don't panic.)
posted by flaneur at 7:40 AM on May 30, 2007


oh flaneur, you work for them. So if I bring up my suggestion that the weekly free download could be more random (rather than popularity based), is there a chance it will be mentioned in a meeting or put on a list of things people has suggested?
posted by micayetoca at 7:56 AM on May 30, 2007


I never use the streaming radio. I only use it to track what I'm listening to. It's too bad they seem to be pushing the radio part more and more.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 AM on May 30, 2007


Bad news. But while I was going to snark, gcbv just put my feelings into words better than I could have. That phenomena always puzzles me a bit, too. Certainly it seems to happen enough that it invites paranoid thinking that such acquisitions are intended purely to destroy the thing being acquired.

"don't panic?" flaneur? Hmm, that's what they always say.

On a less unhappy note, I also think it's interesting that I've always had much better luck in finding new artists by checking out neighbor's playlists than by the actual software-generated recommendations.
posted by tyllwin at 8:04 AM on May 30, 2007


I never use the streaming radio. I only use it to track what I'm listening to. It's too bad they seem to be pushing the radio part more and more.

I do the same thing. I wonder if the radio will take a backseat if (when?) it becomes prohibitively expensive due to the new regulations. (I guess it's good that they're staying in England. Does the CBS connection tie last.fm to US copyright law?)
posted by danb at 8:40 AM on May 30, 2007


I've been using this service since early 2004. Can't see this ending well.
posted by puke & cry at 9:20 AM on May 30, 2007


In a word: Poop.

In a few more words: DAMN THE MAN!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:42 AM on May 30, 2007


Executive summary: don't panic.

Summarized like a true, newly-wealthy executive!

I mean really, when has the little guy ever gotten bought out by the big guy and thought it wouldn't go well?
posted by dobbs at 9:50 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the embed tip JimBob -- Metascrobbler link much appreciated as well danb.

Guess whose start page just got heavier.
posted by acro at 10:08 AM on May 30, 2007


mcstayinskool,

What tool/script/site did you use to do that?
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 10:31 AM on May 30, 2007


I've had an account since 2002, when it was just an Audioscrobbler page and a list of neighbors. I use it just to see what I was listening to last week, or what I've been listening to a lot of lately. But it's such a non-essential service, and the radio doesn't do much for me when I've got a 60GB iPod at work and visit HypeMachine and elbo.ws. I'm ready to drop it as soon as shit goes bad, if shit goes bad.

Good for the Audioscrobbler guys, but I don't see any place this can go but down.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:33 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, damn. Much as I like the folks behind the site (been using it on and off since Audioscrobbler days), it's still sad to see another one get bought out. Indeed, gcbv nails it.

I still don't understand why a startup's ultimate goal is acquisition (by GYM/Google Yahoo Microsoft or by some mainstream media company trying to get through to 'the kids'). I suppose it's inevitable, but still frustrating as hell to find out when it happens. It's like finding out some cat food company has tried to contribute to the lolcat meme... don't go there, and let the users just use a freakin' service and enjoy something without it being all about the eyeballs and clicks per ad, damnit!

Is everything about money? Wait, don't answer that. I know the answer already.
posted by rmm at 10:49 AM on May 30, 2007


The Les Moonves machine KEEPS GETTING HIPPER!!
posted by cavalier at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2007


Sorry for the double post, but this line from their blog really stood out for me:

"We are confident that together with CBS we have the wherewithall to change the music industry".

Wow. Speaks for itself, doesn't it? What, they have some plan to tame a corporate beast we don't know about? Where's *that* button on the last.fm player?
posted by rmm at 10:54 AM on May 30, 2007


Aaaand in other acquisition news today Fox just bought Photobucket, and eBay just bought out StumbleUpon. Busy day for people getting rich, and corporations buying out little guys.

Any news on when that second Internet is starting up?
posted by rmm at 11:08 AM on May 30, 2007


I was only really using it to track my listening habits. I'd occasionally check in and see what my friends were listening to.

I've really gotten into their music streaming lately. It's (surprisingly) led to a few lp purchases.

Hopefully CBS doesn't turn this really cool service into a heap of crap. It's a really useful tool for talking about and discovering music.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 11:15 AM on May 30, 2007


I still don't understand why a startup's ultimate goal is acquisition (by GYM/Google Yahoo Microsoft or by some mainstream media company trying to get through to 'the kids').

Cause that's how you make money... I mean, is that a serious question? You think Last.FM was in it for the altruism or something?

I suppose it's inevitable, but still frustrating as hell to find out when it happens. It's like finding out some cat food company has tried to contribute to the lolcat meme... don't go there, and let the users just use a freakin' service and enjoy something without it being all about the eyeballs and clicks per ad, damnit!

It's like they're trying to run a business or something...
posted by SweetJesus at 12:06 PM on May 30, 2007


Someone help me out here... does this mean that:

a) CBS has a handy place to stream internet radio (effectively) without the RIAA getting it's mits on stupid amounts of money or
b) Last.fm will be forced to pay the RIAA fees as an American radio provider, and the service will be crippled.


Well, I think it's more a) AND b), but it won't be crippled -- CBS is part of the RIAA, so this puts a voice for streaming radio at the RIAA table.

Will that work out well for all streaming radio, or just for the streaming radio players who get bought up by corps? I'd lean toward the latter.

In other words, I'd think of this more as a vise squeezing internet radio from both sides: go corporate, or get crushed.

My biggest question/worry as a longtime last.fm user is more along the lines of whether this will expose last.fm to a) corporate pressure for more mainstream music to be "featured"/recommended/whatever, b) corporate audiences gained through mainstream sources who will change the audience mix and thereby subtly change the recommendations or at least the top charts.

Unless they make major tweaks to the social algorithms it won't affect most users much, you'll still get recommendations based on your own profile and neighbors. But I'm unsure what it's going to mean a year or so down the road for features and the dreaded "site integration".
posted by dhartung at 12:52 PM on May 30, 2007


Now's as good a time as any to mention the MeFi Scrobblers.

"The longer you use it and the more it knows about your music tastes, the more interesting its recommendations will get."

No, I've been using it for a long time, and I haven't noticed any real utility from the recommendations. It's almost always stuff that I've already got, generally stuff that I play occasionally but not often (I know about the Pixies, thanks). Adjusting the slider hasn't done me much good either.

It's similar to the problem of the radio— groups like Best Eclectic Radio Ever...

(and then klang's typing stopped, left Michigan at about 2:30 pm EDT to become an Angelino, of the Californian variety; adios, Klangklangston, and welcome again next time you post as a Pacific Daylight Timer. Pax vobiscum, pops)
posted by klangklangston at 2:54 PM on May 30, 2007


I know about the Pixies, thanks

Augh, yes. What is it with last.fm and the Pixies?
posted by mendel at 4:11 PM on May 30, 2007


Augh, yes. What is it with last.fm and the Pixies?

You guys too? I thought it was just me.

flaneur, if you're still around, do you think much hiring will be done? Not me, but the rocket scientist on the next desk over has been staring wistfully at your Jobs page for the past 6 months.
posted by Leon at 4:41 PM on May 30, 2007


It was good while it lasted.
posted by Jairus at 6:19 PM on May 30, 2007


Well, del.icio.us has been okay even after Yahoo! bought it... so maybe things won't totally suck.

I am worried about a potential block of non-US listeners though, and I live in the US. Some of the best music I've found through Last.fm comes from overseas, and if non-US people are blocked, I'm sure it won't be as easy to find. (I'm sure the RIAA realizes this too, and if CBS is indeed affiliated with them, well that sucks balls.)
posted by mazatec at 6:38 PM on May 30, 2007


That's true, del.icio.us hasn't changed at all since Yahoo! bought it (negatively, I mean). It's still the light, minimalistic bookmarking heaven that it's always been. However, while del.icio.us has always been lean and healthy, Last.fm has been bloated and sluggish for a lot of its life. It's hard to believe that a corporate takeover will get Last.fm on a diet.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:47 PM on May 30, 2007


Executive summary: don't panic.

Yeah, that's what the Livejournal folks said when SixApart bought them. That's what Flikr said when Yahoo bought them. Hell, that's what the Mindspring guys said when Earthlink bought them.

Bottom line, Last.FM is fucked. I expect that within a year Last.FM will turn into some shit radio thing that only has whatever labels CBS owns.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:27 PM on May 30, 2007


if nothing else there is the weekly podcast of cosmic barrio at kpfk.org ... which pretty much buries everything I have ever heard at last.fm
posted by specialk420 at 12:33 AM on May 31, 2007


How exactly is Flickr worse now than it was before the buyout?
posted by chunking express at 6:57 AM on May 31, 2007


Flickr even lowered prices. It used to be expensive.
posted by smackfu at 6:59 AM on May 31, 2007


The recommendations are pretty much shit but I've gotten some good use out of the radio.

Unfortunately, you can no longer create a station using multiple tags. I used to get wonderful sleep out of "circus+cabaret+Tuxedomoon+Giorgio Moroder+Lilliput+northern soul"

I don't like that if I type in a buzz band like CSS, I get all the other buzz bands from the week they were hype. I don't like Arctic Monkeys or Bloc Party or Sufjan Stevens and they aren't at all similar. Similarly, I can't type in Mott the Hoople without getting every band I'm sick of from the seventies, or "classical" without getting a million John Williams scores but overall I think I figured it out.

I've gotten some wonderful results out of "Sounds Like" Nora Keyes, Negativland, Kid Sister, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, and The Smiths. At least I've learned about some bands I really love now, like Glaxo Babies, TTC, and Bonde Do Role.

I really hope that the CBS buyout doesn't fuck it all up, and if it doesn't, than I really hope the internet radio bill doesn't.
posted by elr at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2007


« Older Joel and Ethan Coen rarely disappoint. Their new f...  |  Felix Pappalardi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments