Spotlight: Last.fm Mobile

CBS Interactive Music Group’s network, which includes Last.fm, is comprised of more than 600 streaming stations and counts Yahoo!, AOL, and Xbox as partners. CBS Interactive Music recently made an ad inventory deal with ToneFuse and employs highly creative audience-targeted ad formats that reach more than 37 million users per month. That aside, the company faces challenges with major web affiliates that put Last.fm and others in its stable under the gun in an ever-evolving music and app realm. 

Last.fm: Biting Back at the Apple

Last.fm is one of the world’s most popular music discovery sites. That doesn’t mean it‘s the most popular place to discover and buy, however. According to Last.fm’s co-founder Richard Jones, users are happy to listen to new music on Last.fm and then switch over to iTunes for purchase and browse more. Last.fm recently introduced a paid subscription component for personalized music feeds via the mobile app.

This places more pressure on the company to come up with enticing tech innovations to keep users in-app. According to Jones, Last.fm’s co-founder, Apple’s 30% sales tax onin-app subscriptions  “f***ed over” Last.fm. “Basically people on the iPhone will *always* subscribe using iTunes, because it’s easier,” wrote Jones.  Rhapsody last week also joined the chorus of nays, which may include the FTC and the DOJ eventually, according to the Wall Street Journal, but Apple has no reason to back down on the edict. “It should be interesting to watch the sh**storm unfold,” Jones wrote. Interesting, yes; good for business, not so much. 

Last.fm would do well to launch riskier in-app features by creating a home for alternative, niche yet current music and video content that will make Last.fm seem worth the extra fees. That might take the form of ramped up video and topical user-generated content, branded celebrity offerings,  a vibrant membership element and Facebook integration which would promote content sharing and make the leap to Last.fm a single sign-on click. The plus side? Last.fm is part of a strong network that has a wealth of premium content to share. 

“The CBS nteractive Music Group has some of the best known music assets across the web and mobile devices, including Last.fm. ” CBS Interactive Music President David Goodman told DIGIDAY.  “When you combine our assets, audience and sales force locally, regionally and globally, with the massive audience that ToneFuse has generated, we have, undeniably, one of the most powerful and largest platforms for advertisers to reach people who are passionate about music in the world.”  CBS does have the audience, but getting that mobile audience to pay to subscribe for the same kind of content that they are used to getting for free  will be a leap that will have to be cushioned with lots of goodies and enhanced user tools.

The relevance for marketers? Last.fm will become a great place for creative ad formats and a brand-friendly haven for new, exciting content. Why? Last.fm will have to go full throttle to attract subscribers, while beating off the competition which will be equally anxious to innovate and battle for even more precious app dollars.

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