CBS today said it was launching a free global on-demand music service, built from its May 30 acquisition of Last.fm, a community-based music network, for which it paid $280 million. The company said it would offer access to music from the Universal Music Group, Sony/BMG, Warner and EMI, as well as more than 150,000 independent labels and artists and other parties.
The announcement comes as CBS -- best known for its hallowed broadcast-TV network -- has added other non-TV businesses, including a record label and a movie studio, to its assets, which also include radio and outdoor holdings and the Simon & Schuster book-publishing business.
The future: community
CBS President-CEO Leslie Moonves said the company was looking to develop "communities around content," a signal that a TV show, movie or radio personality can be extended online by finding ways to reach like-minded consumers who want to share their interests with others. "Community clearly is the future," he said in remarks made today at a press conference. Music fans can choose to share their music preferences via Last.fm by linking their media players to the site's database, which is how the service can track individual consumers and help advertisers target them.
CBS said Last.fm's service would be advertiser supported, with a small "billboard" ad possibly appearing on screen while a song was playing. Martin Stiskel, Last.fm's co-founder, said the company is in talks with Toyota and expected to move to other marketers now that the service has officially launched. Potential categories that might be interested in the service include automotive, movies and pharmaceutical, said Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive.
Last.fm is launching in the U.S., U.K. and Germany and is slated to roll out elsewhere in coming months. All of its tracks can be streamed free up to three times each, executives said. At that point, a user has the option to purchase the song for download via Last.fm affiliate partners, including iTunes, Amazon and 7 Digital.