Music for the masses

Yahoo! Music, Rhapsody, and FoxyTunes

Last year, shortly after I assumed the role of Yahoo! Music’s General Manager, we started saying publicly that we were “de-emphasizing” our premium music offering, Yahoo! Music Unlimited. The fact of the matter is that building a great premium music service takes a huge amount of resources and effort, and it was taking energy away from our important main offerings, music.yahoo.com (the Web’s #1 Music destination), music videos, and LAUNCHcast Radio. Around 25 million people visit Yahoo! Music each month. Relatively speaking, a small percentage of those use Yahoo! Music Unlimited, yet an large portion of our resources were being poured into this service. It was clear to us that we needed to make a major strategic shift.

It wasn’t an easy decision. We’re huge fans of Yahoo! Music Unlimited and those customers include many of our most loyal and valuable. We wanted to be sure those users had the best on-demand music experience available on the Internet.

As a result, we’re pleased to announce Rhapsody as our exclusive partner for on-demand music. Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscribers will have a chance to easily take their music catalogs and migrate to Rhapsody. Later this year we will be integrating Rhapsody into music.yahoo.com, so you can continue to use Yahoo! Music for music discovery, news, videos, lyrics, radio, concerts, blogs, and more, and always be a click away from music on-demand. Also, our subscribers will finally have access to the best off-PC experiences such as Rhapsody for TiVo, Sonos, and Control 4 in the living room.

We hope being able to take your Yahoo! Music Unlimited collection to the best subscription service on the Web -- the one which works on PC or Mac, Firefox or Safari as well as TiVo, Sonos, etc. -- at the Yahoo! Music Unlimited price, is an acceptable outcome. We sincerely apologize for any hassle and thank you for joining us in the Yahoo! Music Unlimited run. It was a wild ride for all of us.

I’m sure a question many people are going to ask is if this means Yahoo! is backing away from online music. Au contraire. It is a major strategy shift but we’re still investing in our music business as evidenced by my second bit of news: our acquisition of FoxyTunes. FoxyTunes is the world’s most popular media toolbar, a plug-in for either Firefox or Internet Explorer. FoxyTunes adds useful functionality to more than 30 media players, including iTunes, Winamp, and Pandora. With FoxyTunes you can easily control your media player from the place you spend most of your time, your Web browser, and jump from a track playing in any media player to lyrics, biography, videos, or more music in a single click. What’s more, the innovative “Signatunes” feature helps you express yourself via your music tastes by automatically inserting signatures into your favorite email program (Yahoo! Mail, Gmail), social network messages (Facebook, MySpace), or blog authoring/commenting platform, based on the currently playing track.

For an excellent tour of FoxyTunes’ far-reaching functionality, please see the screencast on FoxyTunes.com.

While it doesn’t tell the whole story, this news, along with the recent news of our Web Media Player (for a great example of the player in use, check out Aurgasm.us), points the direction for a new Yahoo! Music. We’re focusing on delivering relevant music experiences on the Web and are happy to be partnering with Rhapsody to bring you a simple, integrated, on-demand music experience.

If you've never used Rhapsody, check out my best of 2007 playlist on Rhapsody now for free. And be sure to control Rhapsody.com and learn more about each artist with FoxyTunes. ;)

Enjoy,
ian c rogers
Yahoo! Music