I think you make good points, Piers. When one imagines social communities that support a service, then economic contribution by someone–whether viewed as internal or external–is always part of the equation.

I also don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater by suggesting that “internet radio must be free”, as “free” in this context is ambiguous.
When “free” means “ad-supported”, then it’s not “free” except from an end-user vantage point.
Nobody imagine that a TV series must be broadcast indefinitely even if it fails to generate the advertising revenue to pay its expenses and make a profit. When last.fm advises that non-big-3 advertising will not generate sufficient revenue to support the station outside the “big 3”, then the fact that loyal listeners talked up the site, uploaded youtubes and photos, and allowed the scrobbler to work should not require last.fm to operate at a loss on this business.

At the same time, I still wish that last.fm could have made advertiser-supported songs the way to go world-wide. Last.fm had the opportunity to become a real world-wide “go to” site. It’s made the decision to forego that chance.

I’m a bit bemused that so many folks showed up at the last weblog to say “we’re leaving!” when it is fairly obvious that last.fm not only will not be offended, but wants this to happen.

The real “other shoe” will be the institution of premium service for the big 3 residents. Will this be a sale-able concept? I don’t know.

All of this illustrates to me that those of us who favor CC music must find new outlets and new ways to get the word out about CC music and the sites on which is found. Last’s great advantage for CC was a good place to surf to find netlabel work in one place without having to download.
This advantage may or may not be lost–but it’s clear that “free music” as in “free beer” should find new outlets and new demonstrations.

I’m back, Lucas, to your idea of a song page, although an artist weblog with album pages is closer to what I have in mind. Then the question is not how to present the music (that is an important issue but a different issue). The question is what kind of resource will make available the information about the music in a
winning way.

I’m guessing it’s a wiki. A big searchable CC wiki. Moderated for the first 500 artists or so, and then free libre, wiki style after that.

Phlow had done good work on this. Other weblogs such as disquiet and blocsonic and so forth have done great things.

I used to think that curation was the great need. last.fm’s virtue is that it taught me that curation is not the issue–it’s pages which attractively present facts and links to music.
That’s the key thing we need to learn from last, but implement in a free context.