How an EMI 'portal' could work

If the music company actually attempts to launch a label-specific competitor to iTunes and Amazon.com, it's dead on arrival. But a simple cross-marketing play could work.

Matt Rosoff
Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.
Matt Rosoff

According to the Financial Times, music label EMI is planning to launch its own music portal to sell songs and videos, and offer some free content as well.

My first reaction was similar to that of the anonymous music executive quoted in the FT article: dead on arrival. Listeners don't know and don't care about labels; they want to buy all their music in one place, and so on.

But surely EMI's digital team, led by former Googler Douglas Merrill, is smart enough to realize that it can't take on Apple's iTunes with a label-specific store.

I suspect that this is more of a cross-marketing play instead. Users will google an EMI artist like--just to pick an example at random--A Perfect Circle. Instead of directing them to a boring alphabetical list with a link to the band's MySpace page, users could land on a label-owned page with actual songs and videos and CDs, both free and for sale. Once there, EMI might intelligently discern that a fan who likes A Perfect Circle might also like Korn and Iron Maiden, two other metal bands with recordings on EMI, and offer those recordings for sale as well.

And now, just because I haven't linked to it in a while, here's the Sex Pistols.