Last.fm is moving away from serving music to your earholes, and it's starting by charging for the streaming functions in its mobile app.
Last.fm is introducing a charge for the streaming functions in its mobile app. We had a chat with Matthew Hawn of Last.fm to find out what the change means.
The various versions of the mobile app stream a personalised music feed of your favourite music and related recommendations. Up until now, this has been free, but it will soon be chargeable. The ad-free subscription costs £3.
The radio service will become a paid feature on 15 February. The Web and desktop versions of the radio will still be free. It will also be free on Xbox Live and Windows Phone 7 phones. New subscribers also get a free trial, letting you stream 50 songs before you have to pay.
Hawn emphasises that Last.fm's focus is discovering and keeping track of music rather than streaming or listening. He describes the service as "musical check-in", more like Twitter or Foursquare than radio or streaming services like Spotify.
Hawn also said "if I wasn't working at Last.fm, I'd say Last.fm and Spotify should get together and make the world's perfect music service".
We'd definitely like to see what that would look like. Spotify acknowledges that discovery is currently its Achilles heel, and as soon as it pulls off a US launch, finding new music will be the next priority for the service. Meanwhile Hawn is excited about the prospect of working with other services, telling us that Last.fm is "entering a new phase". Last.fm is currently focussed on the UK, US and Germany, but announcements are "imminent" about expanding into new territories.
How do you discover new music? Are you a Last.fm user? How do you feel about paying for the mobile app? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.
Last.fm is owned by CBS Interactive, the same company that owns CNET UK. So now you know.