In the wake of illegal downloading, record labels and third-party companies have both been searching for ways to allow consumers to get a hold of music quickly and, in the case of streaming music, freely. The hope was that advertisement revenue would pay for the costs of licensing music, but it seems that hope was unfounded.
MySpace looks to be purchasing the free music streaming service imeem, but MySpace itself is likely moving to a paid streaming music service. MOG planned on running a free streaming music service, but now is changing to a $5/month subscription. Spotify has delayed plans for their U.S. launch due to complications with launching a free service. The only services that are having success with free streaming music seem to be Lala and iLike, which require payment for a song past the first full listen.
One possibility that seems open to discussion is a subscription fee built into the cost of your Internet or phone plan. This plan seems more likely, as a Sony Music representative was very frank and open in saying Sony, and presumably the other major labels, wanted Spotify to move to paid-only subscription service. So, to check out that new Eminem single, it seems YouTube is still going to be the best bet. [Wired]