Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I am more disappointed by the comments than the announcement itself. The first few comments seem to be blaming last.fm for 'giving up' without actually trying to understand why they made those (extremely) difficult choices.

The music publishing and licensing industry (vastly different from the actual creators, mind you) isn't as straightforward as people believe it to be. Music licenses are extremely tricky and (often) subject to the whims of the publishing labels.

There is no standard rate for a licensing specific tracks (or set of tracks) and the licenses that are available in the market are either too broad and expensive or too narrow and useless.

The entertainment industry in general is a mess - nobody knows how to handle the internet as a viable platform and nobody is willing to risk their profits to attempt and make mistakes either. They are trying to force an outdated method built for a one-way channel (needle-hour plays) on a platform that primarily believes in two-way interactivity.

In other words, they are trying to license content by syndication in a world where RSS, APIs and interactive conversations are the norm - not only is it a ridiculously laughable concept, but it goes against the very grain of the entire thing.

The whole entertainment publishing and licensing industry is in dire need of an overhaul. Unfortunately, the question everyone is too busy asking, is the question everyone should be trying to answer together: "Who will bell the cat?"

The thing is, Last.fm started on the premise of changing all that. That was their stated goal, their reason for existing.

Last.fm promised to be a service not simply for listening to music, but for people who love music, and openly critical of the state of the music industry.

Of course all of that changed when they sold to CBS. After that, nothing else seemed to matter but selling subscriptions to the radio service whilst playing nice with the industry. A service which also stopped evolving, and had it's lunch easily eaten by Spotify. Which has to deal with the same licensing mess, but for some reason was already doing a better job when they were still a small startup.

Last.fm gave up a long time ago. And now that Spotify seems to be getting a grip on the recommendations, I don't see Last.fm having any future whatsoever.

Seconded! Everything about Last.fm started to detereorate from the moment they were bought by CBS. One thing in particular was baffling to me. It seemed like they deliberately tried to deemphasize the community aspects of the site. The weekly computed list of musical neighbours which used to be a great source for music discovery, got burried. Related journals and groups disappeared from artist and tag pages. In short everything that made me want to engage with other users. As a consequence, I began to visit the site less and less frequently. Because after all there is a limit to how interesting it is to look at compiled statistics about the music you listen to.

thirded. the entire point was social listening. even when I didn't like what a friend was into, it was interesting to laugh at the differences in taste.

We were working towards a grassroots licensing platform on my last company, Musio. We actually had really great traction and progress, including the ear of a lot of publishers and artists. The CEO was really involved in the music scene and had an incredible ear for the market. Unfortunately a bad initial structure and a few blowhard members of the board essentially stonewalled any funding for the company and we had to shut down. If it sounds insane that an investor would sooner take a 100% loss (and force a loss on the other investors) than restructure the company, that's because it is. Oh well.

The decisions people make are generally completely rational from their viewpoint. To you their decisions may seem insane, but perhaps they also have a stake in the current system and all of the proposed options would hurt them more in that arena than the possible or probable benefits in the area you're looking at.

As much as I wish you were right about our situation, you aren't. We looked for meaning and reasons inside and out. There were none.

It was actually just one asshole who couldn't admit he was wrong. He even told as much at one point towards the end, that he would sooner lose everything he invested than backpedal on his initial decisions.

Just a jackass with too much money.

Yep, a jackass who'd rather lose money than face. It's a value decision that we may not agree with in this case, but it's a legitimate value decision for him.

I'd regard this as having three areas you'd "score" to decide: Financial impact on me, Personal impact on me (including reputation), impact on others. If "impact on others" is a non-issue for you and the personal financial impact isn't much compared to your personal wealth, you could easily make your decision on something like this based entirely on ego.

Not caring about the impact on others may be a bit sociopathic, but there's nothing criminal about that and in fact there are quite a few very successful CEOs and financiers who just don't give a rat's ass about the little people.

The Music and Video game industries are already "fixed". The web is bursting with quality independent content that is either Free, free or priced well and delivered without DRM. The choice is already there, it's no ones fault but your own if the only content you care about is the stuff pushed by these toxic companies.

Your comment does seem to apply to the TV and Film industry though. An indie film equivalent of Bandcamp would be great. Bollocks to the current movement with their film festivals and limited screenings, at least make a fucking effort to be accessible.

Absolutely, in addition to independent artists and bands found on Bandcamp & Co. it's also very easy to buy DRM-free lossless music by signed and more popular artists. Boomkat, Qobuz, HDTracks, you name it. These days I really can't complain about quality music buying and streaming options.

With movies and TV on the other hand, you're right as well. It's a mess - even more so as a non-american. Even independent creators are doing it wrong: Tried buying the movie/documentary Teenage the other day - no download/buy option, instead screening in a handful of US cities. Good luck getting my money with that approach.

However there are also good examples like Computer Chess or Sleepwalk With Me, which let you buy a DRM-free download.

Isn't Vimeo On Demand (https://vimeo.com/ondemand) the indie film equivalent of Bandcamp?

Yeah.. It's a step in the right direction but a little too close to the existing model for my tastes. Exposing independent films is great, but it's still shit if you aren't going to make an effort to move away from the "Hollywood model".

There are regional restrictions, just like every other streaming service. If you are already in a "blessed region", you already have access to all the other services.

There is still the concept of renting, which is just another way of saying "DRM". You can "rent", but by doing so you are limited to viewing it in the way they dictate and for only a limited time. What's worse, some films only give you this option.

For me, that's sort of missing the entire point.

Would you provide links? I would be interested in them.

Is there something specific you would like me to link? I'm really not exaggerating when I say the web is overflowing with this content. I could link some of the "big" names, but for every one there are dozens or hundreds of similar sites. It's never-ending, especially since almost every indie artist/dev promotes other indies.










Don't forget http://www.ektoplazm.com/ . Completely free music, mostly psytrance and dance, 100s of cds worth, you can't even buy it if you wanted. Lots of it is very good. The business model for artists seems to be to release free music and get yourself promoted enough that you get invited to DJ at electronic music festivals. The record sales are total peanuts so why even bother. The site crowdfunds redesigns and such but mostly people work on it because they really like the music.

Don't forget http://grooveshark.com

Don't even need to restrict yourself to indie. I've got a Spotify Premium account that my wife sometimes hijacks to listen to at her business. Since you can only listen on one mobile device at a time, I'll just hop on Grooveshark if she stole Spotify. I've never not been able to find what I was looking for on Spotify on Grooveshark, and often it has songs in the catalog that Spotify does not.

Beyond the other links, alt-music is out there and can be very good. E.g. http://www.ocremix.org/ (which makes free remixes of video game music, often in ways that add a ton of musical value above and beyond the track being covered).

Applications are open for YC Winter 2021

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact