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Yahoo Music To (NOT) Be Shut Down

yahoomusic.jpgBased on dialogue I’ve had with multiple Yahoo folks, it looks like their tech support was clueless, and they are trying to figure out why. Based on dialogue I had recently with Yahoo Tech Support, it looks like they are shutting down their subscription music service.

I am a Yahoo Music (YHOO) subscriber. I signed up one year ago for an annual contract that gave me unlimited access to download music from their library to my PC, as well as transfer that music to Plays For Sure Devices (Yahoo Music to Go). Yahoo recently notified me that my contract would end October 28th, and my subscription would be auto renewed.

Since I no longer transfer music to Plays for Sure devices, I decided to renew but at the cheaper rate that only allows me to listen at my PC, and not with mobile devices. I struggled with the menu options at Yahoo to change my subscription. I sent email back and forth. Finally, sick of wasting my time for what to me is a small amount of money (but a great deal of principle) I called Yahoo.

I spoke to a nice woman in the Philippines. Her name was Jen. She told me that it was not necessary to change or even cancel my subscription because the Yahoo Music service would be canceled at the end of October.

I guess this is fallout from the recent Microsoft (MSFT) Zune announcement, where they indicated the new Zune device would not support the Plays for Sure codec. This announcement was like Brutus slipping the knife into Caesar – after Microsoft encouraged the proliferation of music subscriber services using their DRM they decided to pull the plug and own the business themselves. It may also be related to the fact that Plays for Sure DRM has been cracked wide open.

Now it appears the fallout is complete if Yahoo Music is shutting down. If anyone can confirm this independently, that would be great. I think this would also be the begriming of the end for Rhapsody, the Real Networks (RNWK) music solution.

DRM will always be a necessary evil, and one commenter on this site has repeatedly indicated Yahoo will move to a watermarking system. Maybe an announcement is forthcoming at the end of this month?

Update: Yahoo has contacted me and told me this is not true. I’m just hoping I can get my account edited.

Hi. Ian from Yahoo! Music here.

We’re most definitely NOT shutting down. Not sure what the miscommunication
was with customer support, but that’s completely untrue.

Give me a call to discuss. xxx.xxx.xxxx is my cell.

Full Disclosure: I hold shares in Microsoft.

Discussion

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  1. Hi Andrew,
    My name is Doug Clark and I am the product director at Yahoo! overseeing the Yahoo Music Jukebox and Unlimited subscription service. I just received notification of your post and want to clearly and emphatically ensure you that Yahoo! has absolutely no plans to shut down our subscription service. We are the #1 music destination on the web, reaching more than 24 million unique visitors each month in the US. Our subscription service is and will continue to be a vital part of our comprehensive suite of services. We apologize for any miscommunication or misinformation to the contrary.

    If you have any further questions about this, please feel free to contact me at dclark@yahoo-inc.com.

    Thanks.
    – Doug

    Posted by Doug Clark | October 13, 2006, 5:32 PM
  2. Try AllofMP3, a Russian site, the second biggest music site to iTunes in the UK with no advertising and solid pure sales (not millions of people seeking promotional stuff).

    Now here’s the problem, they pay royalty agencies, the royalty agency doesn’t pay the musicians (so claims the RIAA), so it’s legal in Russia, but only due to a loophole which will be closed.

    Now here’s the thing, RIAA says alofMp3 is successful because it shovels music dirt cheap. Yet this is not true and hasn’t been for a while:
    Albums are $2-$5 in regular quality, $4-$9 in the more raw incompressed format. These prices are not that dissimilar to the prices the retailers pay for an album. You are after all buying an album without media, artwork and packaging.

    I myself tried it and will buy again if they can resolve their legal situation.

    The reason it’s successful is because they don’t piss around with the format, you buy the format you want how you want it. I only wish for faster format conversions and a download manager, but they seem to be working on one.

    So to my point: imagine if the current push by the RIAA to regularize the Russian market backfires, imagine if they get their royalties paid from the collecting agencies, but the mandatory license remains. Allofmp3 would then be legal and a legal allofmp3 would totally kick iTunes and Yahoo music’s ass, because it would be content without that DRM stuff.

    So I think it’s at a knife edge and could go either way, if Yahoo gets it’s unprotected music it could take iTunes, if AllofMp3 get legal, it could take iTunes. Either way I have difficulty thinking that two years from now, iTunes selling locked music to fixed devices will be the winner. Zune is a non starter in my view.

    Posted by What About AllofMP3? | October 14, 2006, 11:42 AM
  3. I am actually impressed that you got a hold of live person. Yahoo’s support sucks and I can’t figure out how to get a hold of customer care. I am thinking of calling the CC company and just denying the charges/cancelling the card.

    Posted by Mike Javadi | October 16, 2006, 6:44 PM
  4. If you work things through email, they eventually will give you a number to call.

    The number they gave me was 866-562-7228

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | October 17, 2006, 8:58 AM
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