Music hub BurnLounge releases new version, social networking features

Next iteration of customizable music stores.

A BurnLounge 'storefront' BurnLounge

Well, the music offerings at South by Southwest are heating up , and we'll keep you posted on the good ones. I mentioned BurnLounge in a Hoooka, which is a start-up that lets you sell music through a MySpace widget. BurnLounge, which has been around for a while longer, has a similar model: create your own music store, choose the music in it (WMA format), add your own reviews and recommendations, and (optimally) profit. But until this point, it had been just that--standalone personalized music stores, lacking additional functionality that most people think of when they think of new Web brands, such as social networking features and embeddable widgets. Today, however, the NYC-based BurnLounge unveiled its latest incarnation, known as "BL2." It's now open to current BurnLounge retailers, and will be accessible to the public next month.

The original BurnLounge concept was a Web-only product, but BL2 now offers downloadable music-store software--it is, however, only compatible with Windows thus far. This is extremely ambitious, since it puts BurnLounge in direct competition with that other download for buying and playing music, you know, the one run by Apple. But BurnLounge is focusing on customization so that it can outsource its subscription-based software to music artists: retailers now can sell merchandise, tickets, ringtones, and other music-related paraphernalia.

The BurnPages social network. BurnLounge

In addition to the "BL2" revamp, BurnLounge has also introduced a social networking feature called "BurnPages." You don't need to have your own music store in order to operate a BurnPage, which you can then customize with a blog, photos, music playlists, profile data, and just about everything else you could likely stick into a MySpace page. Additionally, BurnPages now offer widget functions that you can stick on external blogs--which could be enough to put something like Hoooka out of business. BurnLounge already has an established clientele that includes Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, and it's in this arena that the company appears to have had the most success thus far.

Nevertheless, it still goes without saying that a social network is only as good as its user base. So the jury's still out on BurnPages.

BurnLounge, in my opinion, is a company to watch, as it's making a noticeable effort to bridge the gap between a consumer-oriented piece of webware (complete with social networking) and a tool that can be licensed to corporate clients. This kind of business model, catering to both markets, is an interesting one. Plus, with all these next-generation music companies starting up, it's almost like Web 2.0 all over again. So what is this...Web 2.2? Web 2.4?

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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