[E’ successo a gennaio, per diversi motivi, di avere l’occasione di parlare con Martin Sticksel, uno dei tre fondatori di Last.fm. Purtroppo più di 700 battute non sono mai riuscito a pubblicare sui media italiani, pur avendo proposto l’intervista a diverse testate, né mi è più riuscito di farne la stesura definitiva. Ma alla fine, stimolato dalla notizia dell’acquisizione da parte di CBS per 280 milioni di dollari (BBC, TechCrunch), ho finalmente trovato il modo. Sinceramente sono davvero contento per loro, anche se appena un po’ dispiaciuto perché l’Europa perde uno dei suoi pochissimi campioni del 2.0. Ma ciò che è più interessante è quanto dice lui. Le affermazioni che ha fatto sui DRM, per esempio, sono state di qualche tempo precedenti a quelle simili di Steve Jobs. E l’iPod? Un “glorified Walkman”. Grande. Insomma, vale davvero la pena di leggerla… (anche se è in inglese) -ad]
Last.fm sounds familiar
With a domain name registered in the Federation of Micronesia, Last.fm is way less exotic of what you can think. Just listen to your favourite music, with the computer or the iPod, and it will soon become very familiar. The system records your music preferences and taste, compares them to the ones of your friends, and suggests you new songs and musicians that are similar to the ones you like. Soon you’ll have your personalized radio station, with a mix of known and new music. That’s why it is obviously the last FM station you need to tune in.
In this interview, recorded on jan, 25th 2007, the co-founder Martin Stiksel tells the story.
What is Last.fm, and how did it begin?
Last.fm is a free web radio with a music recommendation system, social and community driven. We met in 2003 here in London, that is a very good place for music, because many trends pass through or start here. Two of us were musician and we were producing music, but we recognized that it was better to work on the “recommendation” concept. The idea was to re-create what happens when you compare your disc collection with a friend of yours. You usually discover new music that you know you’ll like. That is what now happens with Last.fm.
How did you start?
We did all on our own. In the beginning nobody wanted to give us any money, and we grow up in extreme poverty, but it helped us to stay focused on what to do. Anyway, now we have investors.
How do you make money?
We have three revenue streams: subscriptions, 3 Euro a month for some extra features, revenue share on tickets, downloads and CDs, and advertising.
What is Last.fm now?
Now we have 15 millions of active unique users every month [on jan, 2007. Actual data as communicated from Last.fm at june, 2007, says 20 million users, ndr]. Top country are US, UK, Germany, Poland, Finland, Brasil, Japan. We have more than 25.000 different record labels, and even more musicians, that publish their music on the site. Actually on Last.fm more than 500 million songs a month are listened, and the collection of all this data is the best resource for creating similarities.
You call it the “social music revolution”. Why?
In our system everybody is a DJ and a producer. It turns things around, “on its head”. The way we’ve built the system is how real life is, because the best way to discover new music is asking to friends. Last.fm automates this process on a massive scale.
What do people do on the site?
We give people a number of things: personal pages, music recommendation, “neighbours” and friends that listen to similar music, etc. Now we started recommending concerts, because knowing your preferences we can also say which band you can like.
Do you think that free-to-user services like Last.fm will contrast piracy?
This is true for any media. The model has always been based on free content with advertisement. Basically, this is not a new business model for media. But we are exploring new ways to sell regular music, and music labels are starting to understand. iTunes has demonstrated that if you make very easy for customers to buy digital music, they do. But the DRM concept is very bad, for industry and consumers, because they are unsure if the song will play or will not. But music labels now realize that there must be other ways to do digital business.
Mobile phones: any ideas?
This is definitely on our roadmap. The industry is not ready, but it will happen. Remember the Walkman? We’ll see a similar phenomenon with mobile phones.
Zune or iPod?
I’m not sure if Zune can also access the Net to share, or if it can share music only with other Zune users. Anyway, also the iPod is just a glorified Walkman. They both lack of communication functions. Music is a great fit on a mobile phone. Mobile music will be the next big thing.
What do you think of the Web 2.0 movement?
Web 2.0 is a good thing. The Internet started as a yellow page, and it was very boring. Now we are using the Internet for what the Internet is good to, as an operating system with applications, so users can take part and participate.
In the next time we are going to see the complete potential of the computer as an entertainment device. I’m very curious. And Last.fm will be there.
Vedi anche: Last.fm, A pagamento ma non per tutti.
Addendum: Ho ritrovato due interessanti articoli di BBC News su questo argomento: