Our compatriots, relatively near-neighbours and genius online music people, last.fm have been generating a bit of online controversy over the last few days by not taking part in the savenetradio day of silence which is designed to highlight the dangers to online radio of a change in US licensing laws.
They have a detailed explanation on their blog of exactly why they are not participating (the comments are as interesting as the post itself), though this post was only made last week when there has been some buzz on the subject for a while. The delay in explaining their position appears to be one of the main criticisms being leveled at them – especially at techcrunch.
Many people commenting believe there is something last.fm aren’t telling us, based on the fact that they are now owned by CBS. I think last.fm are doing everything right in order to explain their position and being as open as possible. In my opinion, the minor storm that has blown up around the issue is due to them taking a strong stand on something they believe in (one of their central arguments is that they don’t believe this is the best way of resolving the situation – especially as net silence is what some of their enemies want). Given that they are taking this position (which is inevitably one that polarises people), I believe they are handling their reputation management well by being as open as they can be.
One of the comments on the techcrunch post made me laugh (attributed to Somerset Bop who I believe should be Somerset Bob!):
Last.FM might have been bought by CBS, but it’s a British-based and British-run company, which might explain why it doesn’t appear to be taking part in the National Day of Silence – “national” meaning, in this case, the USA. If the Americans who organized it wanted global participation, maybe they should have considered calling it an “international” day of silence.
Disclaimer: I’m a big fan of last.fm – I use it to listen to spectacularly eclectic mixtures of music, from God is a DJ to Giacomo Puccini – Messa di Gloria (my excuse is that I find dance music and opera to be good music to work to). Having said that, I don’t know anybody there personally.