Feeds

EMI, BMG, AOL define universal Net music scheme

Want Napster to join in too

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Three of the world's five biggest music companies - EMI, Bertelsmann and AOL Time Warner - and streaming media specialist RealNetworks have launched what they all clearly hope with become the de facto system for digital music distribution.

Called MusicNet, it's a secure distribution platform that allows third-parties to sell digital music - and, by extension, any other digital medium - by download or stream, by subscription. The source of the chain is the music companies - EMI, Warner Music Group and BMG - who have licensed the entirety of their digital back-catalogue to the fledgling operation.

At the other end are the online equivalent of the High Street music stores. AOL and RealNetworks are the first to join, though neither have exclusive rights to the content, for sound practical and political reasons. After all, the last thing AOL wants is the regulators stepping in accusing it of reneging on the promises is made in the run-up to the Time-Warner merger. Besides, the music companies want to widen access to customers, not restrict it.

In the middle is MusicNet, which the partners claim will be an independently operated company, though we note that RealNetworks' boss, Rob Glaser, is the new operation's chairman and will act as its CEO until a full-time appointment can be made. Again, the deal between the music companies and MusicNet is non-exclusive, but then it has to be, they've done too many deals with rival operations, like EMI's tie-in with DX3.

However, all this emphasis on non-exclusivity seems more to do with convincing other music companies and music sellers that it's worthwhile signing up than catering for previous deals. The idea is clearly to make the distribution network as open as possible with the desired goal that all and sundry join in and we get, at long last, a universal music delivery system that anyone can use and isn't controlled by Microsoft.

It will be controlled by the music industry, of course, and it's telling that the partners make a specific point of extending the hand of friendship to Napster: "MusicNet will also license its platform to other distribution outlets, including Napster, provided such outlets satisfy legal, copyright and security concern," the partners said today.

Bertelsmann has a point to make here, don't forget, to help it show the world that investing in Napster and trying to persuade the rest of the industry to work with the sharing software company wasn't a complete waste of time and money.

That said, it's also a sign that the industry accepts there's a place in the digital music market for the likes of Napster, and that marks a major shift in opinion. It will be interesting to see whether Universal - the most vociferous in its damnation of peer-to-peer - and Sony join in.

Not that it needs them. With three of the 'big five' recording companies providing content, MusicNet has the critical mass that BMG's Napster initiative lacked.

However, if MusicNet is to become the universal 'one subscription gets you everything' channel - which is what the partners have their eye on - it will need the back of Sony and Universal. As Glaser put it: "Looking ahead, we hope that all the major and independent labels will join MusicNet to create one-stop music subscription offerings with unbeatable consumer momentum."

We shall see. RealNetworks and AOL both plan to launch their MusicNet-based music channels later this year. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.