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TotalMusic goes totally titsup

Second attempt fails too

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Music vapourware venture TotalMusic is closing down, leaving only a sprinkling of buzzwords behind it.

Universal and Sony BMG backed the venture, which foolishly resurrected the brand TotalMusic, the name of an earlier doomed digital music failure. Antitrust concerns put paid to the idea of bundling music with gadgets, but the two labels failed in the end to even get a Spotify-style streaming service off the ground.

Both labels scuppered the more promising Virgin Music Unlimited service. Now even the vapour of TotalMusic has dispersed.

Clueless "VP Product Management" Jason Herskowitz explained on his blog just how unimaginative and shallow the brains behind this venture really are.

"I only hope that someone else figures out how to crack this music-on-the-web nut in a way that is a win for everyone in the value chain," wrote the ex-AOLer, before embarking on an incoherent ramble around buzzwords such as APIs and Music 2.0.

Uh, now - let's see, Jason. Why didn't TotalMusic crack it? Well, you don't make it easy to find and share music. You don't allow people to keep music. You fail to make all the music in the world available - but you don't allow people to share what content they have, either? And you want to keep the billing relationship?

When Herskowitz explains his ideal music service, he offers a process-centric description that would only really appeal to a nerd. And he wonders, wouldn't it be nice if it "compensates those that deserve compensation? And somehow can magically cover the costs associated with all of the above (hint: this is the kicker)?"

Er, yes. Maybe the thought only just occurred to him.

TotalMusic failed because it had the visionaries of the caliber of Jason on board: people comfortable with the phrase "business model" but with no experience of business, particularly selling something people want. Pseudo-technologists who don't really understand technology, swaying from fad ("compete with free!") to fad (social networking), have nothing to fall back on.

With such a limited experience and skill set at executive level, the music value chain was never going to see much value from TotalMusic. ®

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