offers free web music - with a catch

Last.FM says hello to free music and goodbye to some of its revenues

Last.FM, one of the world's most popular music social networking sites, has undergone a series of business model overhauls in an attempt to turn a profit in an industry that's riddled with piracy concerns and an over-zealous music watchdog.

In an attempt to break away from its current model, the company announced on Wednesday that it would allow site visitors to stream any song they want for free. Citing an agreement signed with all the major record labels and 'thousands' of independent labels, Last.FM said it can legally allow access to any song in its library.

Music industry rears its ugly head

Of course, whenever there's good news to share about the music industry, there's always some bad that follows. For the record labels to agree to such a deal, Last.FM was forced to offer the companies a portion of its advertising revenue. And it will only allow users to stream the same song three times before asking them to join its subscription service.

Although it has yet to be launched, Last.FM has told reporters that its subscription service will give users the opportunity to listen to songs for an unlimited amount of time, but will force them to do so on the company's upcoming desktop client. So far, there's no word on whether or not Last.FM will charge for the use of its service.