MP3.com said Tuesday it has launched a new subscription
service in a move to raise money and reach profitability.
MP3.com's Premium Listener
Service, or PluS Express, combines the My.MP3.com online music-storage
service with a player that includes features such as the ability to
burn songs to CDs, transfer music to a portable device, view ad-free
streaming and browsing, manage a personal library, and stream up to 50
CDs per year to an online account.
My.MP3.com, launched about a year and a half ago, led to a flurry of
lawsuits against the company over copyright infringement that eventually
forced it to pay some $150 million in settlements and judgments, and
ultimately contributed to its sale to Vivendi Universal last month.
The debut of MP3.com's new subscription offering signals the latest
effort to move online music fans away from free downloadable music to
paid services. The record industry to date has been beefing up such
initiatives as seen with the development of MusicNet and
Pressplay, formerly known as
MP3.com is "trying to create a new revenue stream, so they're looking for a non-advertising, revenue-based service. This is one of them," said Gartner analyst P.J. McNealy. But MP3.com "has a challenge to
communicate the value proposition beyond the locker-storage services."
In April, record labels Warner Music Group, EMI Recorded Music and BMG
Entertainment joined with streaming media company RealNetworks to develop MusicNet, a music-subscription service that recently struck a distribution agreement with
controversial file-swapping service Napster.
MTVi Group and infrastructure company RioPort also teamed to offer paid song downloads through MTVi's Web sites. And Web portal Yahoo unveiled a
partnership with Duet, a joint venture between Universal Music Group and
Sony Music Entertainment, to launch an online music-subscription
MP3.com said its new service, which costs $2.99 a month or $29.99 a
year, offers people with access to more than 1 million songs, including songs from the major record labels and from 150,000 artists who posted music to the site.
"Nobody wants to scrap their entire music collection when they sign up
for an online music-subscription service, which will likely only have a
tiny fraction of the music they want to listen to," MP3.com Chief
Executive Michael Roberson said in a statement. Rather, "consumers
want a platform where digital music expands their music collection."