Last.fm bands up with Spotify to offer on-demand tracks

Amping up their partnership, users can now immediately click and hear tracks licensed by Spotify on Last.fm's own site.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Internet radio service, Last.fm, on a Windows phone. Bonnie Cha/CNET

Last.fm, an Internet radio Web site and music recommendation engine, is adding an on-demand track player by banding up with Spotify.

The companies, in blog posts on both their sites, said the partnership will add a Spotify playbar to the bottom of Last.fm's site, where users can play and control any song in Spotify's catalog.

The partnership makes sense for both companies. The inability to play entire catalogs of artists -- something that requires onerous negotiations with labels to reach expensive licensing deals -- has long been a missing link of Last.fm's discovery service. And Spotify's ultimate goal, according to founder Daniel Ek, is to become music service that everyone in the world uses to find the music that individual likes before he or she even knows to like it. Nuanced recommendations have been Last.fm's bread and butter for years, before Spotify was founded.

Though few Last.fm users will complain about the ability to immediately listen to some tracks as soon as they get the urge to hear them, the gap between Last.fm's database of songs and the number of tracks Spotify has licensed may disappoint some in its fervent community of music fanatics. Last.fm has more than 700 million tracks in its records, and Spotify has licenses for more than 20 million globally -- the number of tracks varies by country.

Granted, the vast majority of songs played on services like Spotify typically are limited to a few thousand, with the remaining millions comprising a much smaller proportion of total listening. But Last.fm's music community exists to delve into the dark corners of music's history, which may mean Last.fm users could be looking to hear that unlicensed gem more frequently than the average music listener would be.

When cruising the Last.fm site, people who already have the Spotify desktop application will see it open automatically to the song you click on to play. People who don't have the application will have the web-based version of Spotify open in a new tab, and they can play or sign up from there.

The playbar at the bottom of the Last.fm screen can control play, pause, and skip. Spotify users can sync a Last.fm profile with their existing free or premium Spotify account.

The companies have collaborated in the past before with Last.fm's app on Spotify. It's ranked in the service's top 10 apps.

Last.fm is owned by CBS Interactive, the parent company of CNET.