Last.fm has just announced that listening to Last.fm Radio will soon require a subscription of â‚¬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 Iâ€™ve been scrobbling since April 2005. I donâ€™t listen to the radio frequently but sometimes itâ€™s nice being surprised by the recommendations.
Itâ€™s sad that those living in poor countries will have to fork moneyâ€¦ 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 trafficâ€¦ 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. Donâ€™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, itâ€™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 donâ€™t live in rich countries have pathetic Internet connections generally and itâ€™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.
It’s pretty much the same way with PayPal…
You can’t receive payments on your Mauritius acc…
Well, when i first saw the title of this article “Technological Racism” i though it was a new song(by you) :P
Indeed, what they are doing is wrong. Allowing the ones who can afford and disallowing the “poor”(in terms of ISP and sometimes even finance)
You idea of “n hours” per day seems to be a very good idea. Well then.. i am very eager to see their reaction(if ever they actually reply you.)
Else.. check out Imeem.com
sincerely! its a very not-so-goodlooking website, but u get music. and recommended song/artist.
Till then, Rock ON!!
I’m starting to have a niggling doubt about all this…
What is this was just a massive April fools’ joke? The radio service will stop functioning for us on 30 March. Which means we’ll have to pay from 1st April onwards?!?
Or am I living in denial?
[Stop working = 30 March / Start paying = 1 April]
What about 31 March???
Not that I live in Mauritius, but Norway, which will also be affected by this. I agree with everything you say. This is rubbish, especially since the vast majority of us will be paying (not me though; leaving) so that some people can enjoy this luxury for free.
BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7963812.stm
You’ve been quoted. :)
I’m over the moon for having been quoted. But I am also sad because of what is happening on Last.fm…
Eddy Young says
Playing the devil’s advocate again, the reason why we don’t pay for Last.fm is the same as why we have access to BBC iPlayer and you do not. We subsidise lastfm’s operations in some way, in this case via ads for products that sell in the UK and that we will potentially purchase. If lastfm and its advertiser customers saw revenue coming from Mauritius, then you would not have had to pay anything.
Capitalism at play, that’s all.
Now, if lastfm’s reputation were to be hit that much, then maybe CBS would consider reinstating the free service. Well, let’s hope they do.