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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Warner Backs Out of Last.fm Deal

I started covering the convergence of music and technology a decade ago and, with few exceptions, the landscape for digital music hasn't changed much.

The music labels' experiment with Apple's iTunes has been one bright spot (sort of), but there have been far more disappointment: the closing of MP3.com digital music locker service, MusicBank's failed launch after the labels grew scary, Scour and Napster -- two file trading services -- getting sued out of existence despite the inevitability that peer-to-peer distribution was the future, Riffage's closure because the labels failed to support the independent sales movement, the labels' own failure with Musicnet and PressPlay along with Emusic's struggles (although the only company still standing) because of its adoption of the open MP3 music format.

The Apple fanatics have said that's because of the service offering. In truth, the labels believed Apple's small market share would allow them to control the distribution pattern with a willing partner with the pocketbook to provide the money they expected.

And it's always about the money.

Not much has changed in the ten years, judging by Warner Music, one of the major recording labels, pulling out of a deal with last.fm, which offers a streaming music service with social networking components.

The label is pushing for last.fm to either launch its ecommerce portal (technology companies are loathe to launch before services are ready) or give up an equity stake, according to Wired News.

Now, last.fm isn't the only outlet for music distribution these days, but the online service has slowly gained traction with music fans -- so it's hard to stomach a label once again walking away from a potentially innovative service.

In the Web world, people are clamoring for a return to the salad days of the dotcom boom, the late nineties when innovation ran rampant. For me, I'm hoping we've moved beyond that because I remember a different time.

By Brad at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

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