NEW YORK (Hypebot) – Universal and Sony backed TotalMusic, Tunepost – it's recently launched music widget, and Ruckus – the college music subscription service the company purchased last year have all shut down.
The failure of TotalMusic is a tale of false starts, bad acquisitions and a music industry bleeding cash while it struggles to find some new model – any new model – to monetize people's love for music. The partnership was launched with the idea of convincing device manufactures like Zune and the iPod to add a fee to the sale of each player to cover a year or more of unlimited music. It’s a concept not dissimilar to Nokia's struggling "Comes With Music". But player manufacturers never bought in and a Department of Justice anti-trust probe was the final nail in the coffin.
Last summer TotalMusic was reborn as a new service that would bulk license music to services with payments coming in the coming of data capture and a share of ad revenue. That concept also never gained traction (I'm guessing because of resistance from publishers and other stakeholders) and the funders decided to shut the operation down.
TotalMusic's VP of Product Management Jason Herskowitz wrote candidly of the closure on his blog:
"I only hope that someone else figures out how to crack this music-on-the-web nut in a way that is a win for everyone in the value chain. The problem is that to make a music service a win for everyone, then they all of the famished participants have to sit at the table – and be content to let all the others have a little bit to eat, even though they are still hungry themselves."
In addition to major label impatience, the problem appears to be that some of music's stakeholders are not yet coming to the table hungry enough to make a deal that works.