Thursday, September 16, 2004

A Quick Word on Yahoo's MusicMatch Acquisition: The Beauty of Keeping an Open Mind

The announced acquisition of the MusicMatch online/offline music service by Yahoo! generates all sorts of buzz from a media perspective, but a moment if you will for the lessons learned by MusicMatch about premium content business models. What is MusicMatch? It's Internet radio, record store, rip-and-burn and mix your own all in one neat little bundle. For a nominal subscription fee you can tune in a Web-based "radio" stream of music with complementary discographies, and click on links in many of the titles to purchase CD-quality individual tracks or their albums. MusicMatch layers these models very carefully to provide sensible levels of free/fee access and obviously supports DRM for downloaded materials, but the key factor is that from the get-go they really didn't care too much about "what is radio" versus "what is a CD store". What they focused on is the value of content in creating an experience for a user, blending in models as need be. While on-air radio broadcasters are out there still pushing least-common-denominator fare in exchange for endless pub promos and acne cream ads, MusicMatch provides a far richer and more interesting range of fare that promises to render most non-interactive music delivery formats obsolete. So to get some fuel for the "is it a search engine" or "is it really premium content" debates, try downloading MusicMatch to get an interesting perspective on how openness to new models for old markets may yield highly profitable results.
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