Digital Music Distributor Calls Last.fm to Order

Hamburg-based finetunes, one of the leading independent European distributors for digital music and audio content, have just called Last.fm to order. The obvious reason given is copyright infringement. Although we are generally big fans of the idea behind streaming radio services such as Last.fm, it seems a resolution to these ongoing issues between music makers […]

Hamburg-based finetunes, one of the leading independent European distributors for digital music and audio content, have just called Last.fm to order. The obvious reason given is copyright infringement. Although we are generally big fans of the idea behind streaming radio services such as Last.fm, it seems a resolution to these ongoing issues between music makers and providers has yet to be reached.

Last.fm has been using music from the finetunes catalogue for their streaming services without permission or dealing with the issue through a local music royalty collecting entity. This stands in apparent contradiction with Last.fm’s stated policy that they negotiate lawfully with respective rights owners.

The legal initiative taken on by finetunes is backed by independent German labels such as Grand Hotel van Cleef, Buback Tonträger and Hot Actions Records who publish famous German bands such as Die Ärzte, Tomte or Die Goldenen Zitronen.

With Last.fm having been acquired by CBS for $280 Million last year, we can’t help but wonder where all the money is going and if there are any plans to compensate the artists and labels featured on the site. How ‘social’ is this self-proclaimed “Social Music Revolution” in the end?

We spoke with finetunes CEO Oke Göttlich today about the issue. Oke says:

“We are definitely supporting the growth of the digital music market with innovative business models such as Last.fm. Those are of course an enrichment for the market, as long as the rights owners are included, and this is already common practise in similar online music platforms. However, it is not possible that the artists music is just taken away from them, and being used more than ever but at the same time the artists are not adequately compensated.”

PSFK Germany will track the developments in this case, as it remains a still unresolved and pressing issue for many musicians and labels.

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