CBS’ Last.fm used to be plain old Internet radio – you picked a station, and listened to whatever it streamed. That all changed yesterday, when the company announced its plan to let users listen to any song they wanted for free, a risky but potentially game-changing move that has the music industry nervous, the New York Times reports.
The music business so far has preferred to limit that kind of consumer freedom to subscription-based services like Rhapsody, but CBS is going with the old radio model, paying for everything with advertising. “I listen to the users, and the first thing users want is free streaming,” said CBS’ Interactive president. Music executives are watching carefully, worried the model won’t make economic sense.