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CBS Looks First on Last.FM

3:30 PM -- Looks like CBS is buying beloved Web 2.0 fixture Last.FM. The LA Times broke the story this morning, and co-founder Richard Jones backed it up in his blog.

Plain and simple, Last.FM is a good buy. CBS seems to be committed to letting the boys in London keep doing their thing with minimal meddling. Not surprising, given CBS prez Quincy Smith's revelation that content providers need to find their audiences in this day and age. Last.FM has a big one. But I think there's more to this than cool points.

We associate CBS with television, but as Owen Thomas reminds us, they're also deep into radio,a format desperately trying to stay relevant. It would be smart to tie terrestrial radio to streaming audio in some way -- is it too much to dream that a quick and dirty analysis of listener stratification could lead to better radio programming? Or at least better feedback? Direct data from listeners could replace payola as the determining factor in what makes the airwaves and what doesn't.

Speaking of payola, the deal also saves Last.FM from the impending financial crisis that will affect those streaming music all the world 'round, should things break the wrong way in Washington. If nothing else, CBS can afford the perverse Webcasting fees and keep Last.FM afloat, albeit less profitably. Let's hope the suits don't use that as an excuse to mess up a good thing.

— A.L. Friedman, Editor at Large, Light Reading

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