There’s lots of excitement about Last.FM’s announcement that people can now listen to full-length songs and albums after signing licensing deals with the major labels and independent artists.
For music lovers, this is clearly a great move – and it’s in keeping with one of the most exciting trends within the online music business: the ability to listen to whatever music you choose through services such as Songza, Jango and, now, Last.FM.
It’s the ultimate jukebox – and, for the most part, it’s free.
The question is whether people flocking to Jango (one million registered users in the last six months and counting), Songza, et al will become music buyers. If the ability to sample pretty much any song you want is now available, will it encourage consumers to actually consume/buy music – be it CDs, digital tracks or online subscription services?
(Note: You can listen to a song on Last.FM three times before getting prompted to sign up for its new online subscription service.)
It may be that purchasing music is dead or, at best, a low-price commodity (10 cents a track perhaps!). Maybe the upside to more choice and access than ever is it gets people excited about music and exposes them to musicians they would never have taken a chance on before. This, in turn, could lead to more demand for concert tickets, merchandise such as boxed sets, schwag, etc.
Update: Sadly, LastFM’s new offer isn’t available in Canada but what else is new!