SonicNet soups up music site

The revamped Web site will make a soft launch Monday in an effort to push ahead in a crowded, competitive market.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
2 min read
SonicNet will start a soft launch of its revamped Web site Monday, trying to get ahead in a crowded, competitive market.

The full-fledged launch of the site, aimed at the 18- to 24-year-old market, will occur March 12. The company, owned by TCI Music since the beginning of the year, faces stiff competition from the likes of MTV and Rolling Stone, which also is jazzing up its Web site since the recent merger with JamTV. (See related story)

E-commerce music sites such as CDNow and N2K also competition against SonicNet, although they could be potential partners. For example, SonicNet already has an alliance with Music Boulevard, which sells music online.

As reported earlier, the new site features improved interface and applications in three categories: music news, music guide, and "the station." The redesign cost in the "upper six figures" range but less than $1 million, sources said. The relaunch of SonicNet not only represents an important move for the site but also for TCI Music, SonicNet president Nicholas Butterworth said today.

While MTV and Rolling Stone have widely known brand names, SonicNet can benefit from the big financing and distribution network provided by Tele-Communications Incorporated, one of the nation's cable television giants. SonicNet also thinks it has a better music news-gathering organization.

In addition, the company is laying the groundwork to strike deals for providing music to high-speed Internet access providers, such as the Australian telco Telstra and @Home, whose major stakeholder is TCI. SonicNet already has held talks with @Home, executives said.