NEWS: US EXECUTIVES FROM VIACOM INC. VISIT LONDON TO ACQUIRE 'LAST.

FM' ONLINE MUSIC RADIO STATION by GRANT GODDARD

www.grantgoddard.co.uk March 2007

Executives from American media giant Viacom Inc. have visited London this week for discussions to acquire online music station 'Last.fm' in a deal worth around US$450m. Launched in 2003, Last.fm offers internet users a personalised stream of music directly related to their personal tastes, alongside social networking functions that create groups of users with similar interests. The service has 15m users per month, including 300,000 in the UK, and offers a playlist of around 1m songs. Last.fm co-founder Martin Stiksel, a former Austrian music journalist, explained the product’s appeal: “It’s about re-igniting a passion for music. People get out of touch after they graduate from university. They often listen to the same artists until retirement age because they don’t have the time to search out new music. Last.fm offers a low-involvement, easy lean-back approach to music discovery.” He said that 60% of its users are aged between 15 and 25. Internet radio stations such as Last.fm and 'Pandora' are slowly eroding the youth audience of commercial radio by offering a combination of customised music and social networking that has significant appeal to this demographic. EMAP plc chief executive Tom Moloney argues that the internet’s impact is more perceptual than real. “Advertisers have been led to believe that all young people are spending time on MySpace,” Moloney says. “The radio market is about youth advertising. Radio has been a very effective way of reaching young people.” But advertising agencies increasingly view traditional radio as uninspiring, a perception that Adam Smith of Group M admits: “Radio is no longer as sexy as the internet. It just does not get the priority it used to in the media agencies, and we are much less inclined to spend money in that medium.”

[First published in 'The Radio Magazine' as 'Viacom To Buy Last.fm?', #778, 7 March 2007]

Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk

News: US Executives From Viacom Inc. Visit London To Acquire 'Last FM' Online Music Radio Station ©2007 Grant Goddard

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