CBS Interactive-owned music service Last.fm has announced it will shut down its online radio service in all but eight countries, "due to licensing restrictions."
While U.S., UK, and German listeners will still be able to use the Last.fm radio service free via the website, radio via the Last.fm desktop application in those nations will become solely a subscription-based service (ad-supported free radio via apps had been available to users in those countries). Mobile access to Last.fm radio (since April 2011) has been subscription-only, and will remain so.
Elsewhere in the world, Last.fm's radio service has been subscription-only since 2009. It will remain so for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Brazil. But elsewhere, Last.fm online radio will entirely cease on January 15.
The cost of licensing copyright sound recordings has always been, and continues to be, inhibitive to online music companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.
2012 marked the tenth anniversary of Last.fm's founding. It was purchased by CBS in 2007, and remains based in England.
Last.fm also announced an upcoming revamped desktop client.
Last.fm features a music recommender system called "Audioscrobbler," which compiles details of users' music habits ("scrobbling") -- on Internet radio stations, local files, or portable devices -- and builds a detailed profile of each user's musical tastes. It's this database that powers Last.fm's music recommendation capability.
Read the Last.fm announcement here.