Social music site Last.fm has launched what it describes as the worlds biggest free music service. It is promising to pay unsigned artists royalties every time a user streams a track to their computer. The website has done deals with the four major record companies as well as more than 150,000 independent labels to offer access to their catalogues. Users will be able to listen to any track - streamed rather than downloaded - up to three times.
After that period Last.fm members will be encouraged to buy the track via links to iTunes and Amazon and other download services. A share of any resulting sales, coupled with advertising, will fund the service. Last.fm, founded in London in 2002, was bought by the American media giant CBS last year for $280m (Â£143m).
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