Last.fm moves to subscription-only radio

Free streaming music service Last.fm is to become somewhat less free, with the company's vice president announcing plans to charge users of mobile and stand-alone playback devices.

The service offered by Last.fm, which monitors the music its users listen to and suggests similar songs and artists in themed streaming radio stations, has proven a popular one. Despite the launch of more flexible services such as Spotify, which allow you to listen to specific songs and artists rather than just a themed stream, the company continues to attract new users.

This latest move to monetise its user base, however, could leave some feeling unhappy: while the main Last.fm Radio service, offered via the website and the downloadable desktop app, remains free, all dedicated playback devices and smartphones will need to stump up some cash.

Users who use the company's Android or iPhone app, or standalone players from Sonos, Revo, Roberts, M3, Teufel, Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, and Logitech, will need to pay £3 a month to continue to access Last.fm Radio. Those listening on a PC or Microsoft's Xbox 360 console will continue to receive free Last.fm Radio access, while Windows Mobile 7 devices get a free pass until the end of the year.

"For the cost of a fancy coffee, a Last.fm monthly subscription allows you to listen to radio across all platforms, on all your devices, and without commercial interruptions," claimed Last.fm vice president Matthew Hawn in a statement. "You’ll see that this change brings us in line with other music services that already charge you to listen to music on mobile devices.

"We will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world."

The company's other services, such as music tagging - known as 'scrobbling' - and preference-based recommendation will remain free for subscribers and non-subscribers alike, Hawn confirmed.

The move to a subscriber-only model for mobile and device use will be completed by the 15th of February, so if you want to try the service for free you'd better get your skates on.