Report: UMG Squires Other Majors For iTunes Rival
October 15, 2007 at 5:23 AM (PT)
BUSINESSWEEK reports that UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP CEO DOUG MORRIS has been working behind the scenes on creating a major label online subscription music service. Tentatively dubbed TOTAL MUSIC, the labels' goal is to provide a legitimate -- and more profitable -- alternative to APPLE's iTUNES.
Reportedly, MORRIS has already convinced SONY BMG MUSIC to sign off on the venture and he's currently talking to WARNER MUSIC GROUP about joining the party. For whatever reason, there was no mention of any discussions between UMG and EMI.
The goal is to make TOTAL MUSIC a standard feature in new digital music players. To do that, they want hardware makers to absorb the cost of a $5 monthly subscription, so that consumers would get their music essentially for free when they buy a new player, and the hardware industry would be compensated by selling many more devices.
For portable music players such as the ZUNE, offering this option could give them a better chance at chipping away at the iPOD's dominance.
Finding a business that would convince hardware makers to swallow that cost is only one challenge the labels must overcome. History is littered with failed online music stores; during the NAPSTER days, the majors offered two competing online music store, MUSICNET and PRESSPLAY--and both failed. MTV recently dumped its URGE music service to join RHAPSODY.
Nevertheless, an increasing number of entities are launching their own stores--most recently, AMAZON, which has no DRM. It's not known whether TOTAL MUSIC would have DRM, but if it offers DRM-free songs, a wider range of music players would be able to integrate it.
A UMG spokesperson would not comment on the story at this time.