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Free online streaming a thing of the past?

Sean "Diddy" Combs, just one of the Warner Music artists you will no longer be able to stream free
Sean "Diddy" Combs, just one of the Warner Music artists you will no longer be able to stream free
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

It was a wonderful idea while it lasted. An almost unlimited library of music, past and present,  yours to listen to for the price of watching an ad or two on your computer. If you wanted a copy of your very own, you could pay for the download. Labels got royalty money, streaming services got ad revenue and download money, and all was right with the world.

Not so fast. Clearly the most comprehensive service, Imeem, let a visitor listen to complete songs and build playlists. My Space bought them and promptly shut them down. Imeem was gobbled up by My Space Music, but little remains online of the service. My Space is allowing those who had playlists on Imeem accounts to have access to them, but not to find anything new. Last FM is in the ball game but does not allow free streaming of more than thirty seconds of a song. 

The social media trade website Mashable quotes this BBC News article,  reporting the decision of  Warner Music Group  to delete it's catalog from free music services, including the up-and-coming Spotify. (UK based Spotify lets a customer stream and download either with advertising between songs or a flat monthly fee. It is ramping up to debut in the U.S.)

Music labels were dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. Rather than owning legal downloading and making money from it, they chose to dig in their heels and prosecute kids who were downloading in their bedroom. What they really did was raise an entire generation to believe that music is something you shouldn't have to pay for. Labels are demanding performance royalties from radio stations who have always promoted their music for free.

Will Warner's pullout kill streaming services? It certainly can't help, and it starts making particularly a lot of older music once again innaccessible.

Meet the current and rising stars of New Media in Dayton at the monthly gathering of New Media Dayton, 4 to 7pm, at the Pub at The Greene. You'll learn The Art of Listening to Your Customers with Brad Ditzell. Full details and sign up here.

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