Friday 24 January 2014, 12:06 | By Chris Cooke
Last.fm pulls in YouTube videos for new player
One of the original “yeah, but I don’t get how you’re EVER going to make any money” online music services Last.fm is in the process of overhauling its music player in a move that could well make the user-experience more compelling, though is almost certainly more about saving money.
Basically the CBS-owned site’s music player is changing so that rather than playing tracks off its own platform it pulls in videos from YouTube. It means that the Last.fm personalised radio service now comes with video, and that you can navigate YouTube’s music libraries via Last.fm’s personalised playlists.
Still in beta, it’s not entirely clear if and how YouTube’s pre-roll advertising will play; whether the Last.fm technology overcomes some of the sound-level wobbles that occur when you use YouTube as a music player; what the move means for catalogue size, given the Google-owned video sites is less comprehensive when it comes to album tracks; and whether Last.fm can pull in Vevo content (without which catalogue gaps would be more significant).
But it could all work – and actually would be kind of cool if extended the other way, so that those who have allowed Last.fm to monitor their music listening for the last decade could let the platform organise their YouTube listening.
Presumably for CBS the move is more about saving money though. The streaming music element of Last.fm – the bit of the venture that seemed to have the most potential to become a viable business in its own right, and which was a significant player in the early-doors streaming music market in a handful of countries, for a time – has been greatly downsized in recent years. With Last.fm still losing owners CBS money, the move could be seen as a last ditch attempt to capitalise on the set-up’s enviable data pile while allowing other parties to worry about content licensing costs.
Slightly ironically, the most recent incarnation of Last.fm’s own music player, with it’s arty slide shows utilising artwork attached to tracks, is rather like what we expect YouTube’s own in-development audio streaming service to look like when it goes live later this year.