Just An Online Minute... Last.Com To Offer Music-On-Demand
Through deals with the four major labels and 150,000 independent labels, Last.fm will make around 3.5 million tracks available for free streaming. The site will allow users to listen to each song three times for free. After users have reached the limit, the site will direct them to online music stores like iTunes and Amazon.
CBS is not requiring people to log in to use the service -- which clearly makes it more convenient, but also, as Wired points out, makes it easy for people to get around the three-listen limit. In lieu of a log-in, Last.fm keeps track of the number of times people stream songs by cookies, so users who delete their cookies can continue to listen to the songs.
While there are other music services online, it's still rare to be able to legally stream tracks in their entirety, for free, from a central location and without creating an account or downloading extra software.
This type of service makes a huge degree of sense for Last.fm, which gained a following for its recommendation system. Many people want to hear tracks before purchasing them -- especially for bands they're not familiar with. No matter how trusted the recommendation, there's no accounting for taste, and no real substitute for experiencing the music firsthand.