LONDON Warner Music Group on Tuesday said it
had signed a deal to allow its entire catalog to be played on
fast-growing music social network service Last.fm, an
innovative site that links music fans to new and old hits.
With more than 15 million active users per month, Last.fm
has earned glowing praise for its system which recommends songs
by tracking a listener's music-playing habits and automatically
linking them to fans with similar tastes.
The deal with Warner, the world's fourth-largest music
company, is the first with one of the major labels and the
network's co-founder Martin Stiksel said they were in talks
with the other three major labels and content holders.
Warner, home to Madonna and Red Hot Chili Peppers, said the
deal underscored its commitment to offering consumers unique
ways to experience its music.
Stephen Bryan, who looks at business development for Warner
Music Group, told Reuters that Last.fm reflected a broader
trend that showed the power of community driven services.
"This will help us harness that power for consumers," he
Last.fm was launched in 2002 but exploded in popularity in
2005 when it developed a new method for connecting people with
music and artists with listeners.
Music fans who sign up at www.last.fm can agree to
link their digital media player, such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes
for example, to Last.fm's site, which then monitors the choice
With this information, it can then recommend new or old
songs, artists or local concerts, drawing from the choices of
other fans who have similar tastes.
The network also provides a free, advertising-supported
online radio streaming service which will play music from the
hundreds of independent labels it has deals with, and from this
"The big guys are starting to realize that these community
tools aren't just for people to use to amuse themselves," said
Mike McGuire, a Silicon Valley-based music industry analyst
with Gartner Inc. "These sites can help drive transactions."
STAMP OF APPROVAL
"It is very difficult to keep up to date with all the new
music that is coming out," Stiksel told Reuters in an
interview. "Being confronted with too much choice can actually
be daunting and you go back to listening to the same old stuff.
"What we wanted to do was make music discovery very simple.
This is the first major content deal we have done and this is
the official stamp of approval." Terms of the deal were not
The group said the service had also been popular with
independent labels and artists who use it to target new fans.
"The only thing you have to do is listen," said Stefan
Glaenzer, chairman of the London-based company.
"The music industry can only ever promote the last four or
five things," he told Reuters. "This helps them find audiences
for their very new music."
Last.fm said the deal would allow Warner's music to be
offered over its service in the U.S. and Europe and would roll
out in full over the next week.
Last.fm's biggest markets are the United States, Britain,
Japan, Germany, Poland, Brazil, Turkey and Finland, where 8
percent of Finnish Internet users are Last.fm users.
(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in London)