Last.fm, which provides music to online users like a jukebox, will start charging fans outside Britain, the United States and Germany from the end of the month, the London-based site's co-founder said.
In a blog posting, Richard Jones said: "In order to keep providing the best radio service on the web, we need to ask our listeners from countries other than USA, UK and Germany to subscribe for three euros (four dollars) per month."
He said users could listen to 30 tracks before having to sign up, and stressed that all the site's other content -- including music videos and biographies -- would remain free for everybody.
Responding to a wave of complaints on a blog, Last.fm staff member Matthew Ogle admitted it was a "business decision."
Since it was bought by US media powerhouse CBS Corp. in 2007, Last.fm has had enough staff in Britain, the United States and Germany to generate advertising revenues to pay for the music licences there -- but not elsewhere, he said.
Last.fm launched in east London in 2002, claiming to be the first music website to offer free, global, on-demand access to songs from the four major record labels -- Universal Music Group, Sony/BMG, Warner and EMI.
It now claims to have more than 30 million users a month accessing more than seven million music clips.
(c) 2009 AFP
Explore further: Social media sackings risk stifling journalistic expression