Last.fm has just announced that listening to Last.fm Radio will soon require a subscription of €3.00 per month except for those living in the US, UK and Germany who will continue to enjoy Last.fm Radio for free.
I’ve been using Last.fm to scrobble my music for 4 years now and I use it a lot to discover new artists. But, today, I feel sad. Not because I’m a heavy radio listener (I can’t thanks to the infamous but totally vague fair usage policy…) but because, for the first time in my life, I feel I am a victim of (technological) racism. What’s different between someone living in Mauritius and someone living in the USA, the UK or Germany? Why one will have to pay and the other no?
I have left two comments on the annoucement page that I would like to reproduce in full. The first one read:
I live in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean, and I’ve been scrobbling since April 2005. I don’t listen to the radio frequently but sometimes it’s nice being surprised by the recommendations.
It’s sad that those living in poor countries will have to fork money… or, more precisely, stop using the radio facility.
I think that what you are doing is too radical and there is a risk you will lose loads and loads of traffic… and, maybe, independent artists too (like me) who would rather have their music elsewhere.
If I were you, I would have introduced some kind of quota for the radio. Say a few hours per day free, the rest (if any) being paid.
This would allow people like me (who have been contributing to the Last.fm database for years now) not to feel completely abandoned. Don’t forget that last.fm is what it is because of us.
and the second one is:
Seriously, we, the ones who live in the 192 countries, want to know why we have to subsidise those will live in the USA, the UK and Germany? I have some trouble understanding your logic.
As I wrote in a previous comment, it’s far more logical to make those who listen to the radio too much (depending on your own criteria) pay.
Do you understand that you are asking me to pay to access a service that I use only sparingly?
[I would like to point out something else. Those who don’t live in rich countries have pathetic Internet connections generally and it’s practically impossible to listen to Internet radio for too long because of breaks or even transfer quotas imposed by ISPs. Those who live in the USA, UK and Germany generally have good Internet connections and they can listen to radio all day long IF THEY WANT TO. So, basically, you are asking those who have technical difficulties doing something to pay for those who can do the same thing without any problem. This defies logic.]
Someone (sil_mich) has proposed that we stop scrobbling from the 1st of April as a sign of protest. I agree 100%. We need to make the Last.fm people realise that what they are doing is creating a very dangerous precedent.