If you’re a fan of the Last.fm app, you’re going to have to start coughing up about $3 a month if you want to listen to tunes on your iPhone, Android or iPad. The Internet radio service will be turning to a subscriber-only model for its mobile apps.
“On the Last.fm website an ad-supported, free-to-listeners model is what supports our online radio services in the US, UK and Germany,” the company wrote. “In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world.”
An interesting aside is that the Windows Phone 7 Last.fm app will remain free, so it’s a good thing we put that on our must-have app list. This is probably due to Microsoft shelling out some cash to the service because it will also remain free on the Xbox Live service.
What’s the deal with the Last.fm app costs? Well, the Internet music streaming business is a tricky one, as companies have to pay a fee for each track that’s streamed. The crazy licensing world means that a song streamed to a computer has a different (read: lower) cost than streaming to a mobile device or to a tablet.
The one company which seems to have cracked the music nut for mobile is Cricket, which recently introduced its Muve Music service. For a $55 monthly fee, users get voice, data, text and unlimited music downloads – this even lets you chop up those tracks into ringtones and ringbacks, which probably took a ton of negotiating.
Last.fm app competitors like Pandora and Slacker still offer free mobile options, so you have to wonder how much this will impact adoption. What’s your favorite mobile music service?
[Via Last.fm blog]