CBS Acquires last.fm – Why?

31 May

Strange acquisition today by CBS: they bought one of my favorite sites, last.fm – it’s a great site, really nice community stuff going on, nice smooth interface, and above all it delivers . Fact is you will find music you like if you join last.fm community, and unlike a lot of other 2.0 sites you don’t need to do actively participate to benefit: sign up, download a small plugin for itunes (or whatever player you use), and it automatically tracks the music you listen to then recommends artists based on the collective community intelligence. The beauty of it is you can be as active or passive as you want to be, and still participate and benefit. Here’s my profile:

http://www.last.fm/user/kaimac/

Obviously enough the first thing that’s clear from this is that I have very good taste in music. Other than that, I just don’t really see the value for CBS. Old media scrambling to get on board the 2.0 bus? I guess there’s a link with their radio business, but I still don’t really see the value. Different audiences, different format, different world. Two independent businesses, as I see it: the game has just changed so much over the last few years. I don’t see sites like last.fm competing with traditional radio any more than any other web property does. Behavior is changing.

Now if AOL or one of the big labels had bought them that would be entirely different. This one is hot of the heels of the Wallstrip acquisition which I didn’t really understand either.

All fun and games, as a colleague of mine would say.

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4 Responses to “CBS Acquires last.fm – Why?”

  1. howard lindzon May 31, 2007 at 3:06 am #

    Hi – howard from wallstrip here

    check out one of my companies – golfnow.com for great tee times in san diego.

    Quincy is smart so you will get it in a few years.

  2. kaimac May 31, 2007 at 8:17 am #

    What is there to get? Help me understand. No denying that quincy is smart, just somewhat curious that a broadcast behemoth like CBS would acquire a company like yours.

    Congratulations on the deal and all, just odd that with their resources CBS would shell out $5 million on a fledgling videoblog startup.

  3. marc sirkin May 31, 2007 at 8:52 am #

    I’d say that this is a total joke and is “bubble-like” behavior in my opinion (which is worth close to nothing if you are wondering) except that the money is total chump change for CBS. At that price, why not buy Last.fm?

    I wonder if Moonves is actually a user – or maybe his cousin, son, daugther or nephew is and he simply took a hint and bought the damn thing.

    Another quote:
    “They want to move from a content company to an audience company giving the audiences control and learning from this and that’s why Last.fm was their choice,” he added.”

    Where should I start with this quote… more proof that big/old media is totally clueless. They’d be better off buying Tivo, or doing a better job allowing it’s “audiences” freedom to remix, mash up and create new stuff with their content. But I’m sure I dead wrong.

    Lastly… this quote irkes me beyond anything:

    “The three founders will now be among the most successful – and potentially wealthy – Web 2.0 pioneers in the world.”

    Bubblicious me thinks.

  4. Grand Master Thump June 22, 2007 at 8:58 am #

    Here is a thought, on-demand custom internet radio based on your preferences. Imagine the feedback loop of having the ability to click on a little thing that says, “I liked that song, more of that please”. Then intersperse adverts for albums -> profit.

    Putting on evil corporate genius hat for a short while, how much music publishing does CBS control, going on the theory that understanding a demographic’s music tastes and how they are changing could lead to better label catalogue selection. How about being able to influence changing tatses. Music is such an emotional connector to many people that it could be one hell of a quasi-subliminal marketing tool.

    Actually the more I think about this the more that a large music publishing/broadcasting company should be doing this and it seems like a really smart move if they take it in certain directions. Did Last have a rule about not selling their data, maybe it is just a really expensive data purchase.

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