Lynne d Johnson



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08.05.05 02:26 PM

we want free music, free content, and free tools

Just in case you've been falling asleep at the keyboard lately and may not have noticed, the big 4 are all vying for your eyeballs with a mix of content offerings. When I speak of "the big 4,", I'm referring to google, yahoo, msn, and aol. This is especially true of at least two of the four, as cheaper means of obtaining broadband flourishes, and being simply an ISP isn't going to cut it anymore.

They all offer some means of social networking, aggregating content, a form of search, free email, blogging tools, or at least partnerships with those who provide such services. It's becoming harder and harder to claim loyalty to just one.

As Shawn Fanning's Napster once proved though, it's music that we all really want (or at least some form of audio content). We want more ways to discover new music, and we want more ways to have access to free digital music.

Recent announcemnts on XM partnerships would seem to prove this hypothesis. There's the New York Times deal ("XM will carry New York Times' WQXR music series "Reflections from the Keyboard" on one of its classical music channels and develop other classical programs. XM will also include reports, reviews, and commentaries from Times staffers in several of its talk radio channels, and the companies will develop an hourly newscast for selected XM talk channels.") Then there's the aol deal, offering live music content. And also a radio deal between the two. There's even a Napster/XM partnership.

Now that's just in the world of Satellite, on demand music and video offerings both online and in the cable world appear to be booming businesses. And though we know podcasting won't do much for revenue share, unless backed by sponsors, it's just one more digital music offering for these companies to go out and get wedded to.

But my point here is that we want music, or at least Yahoo thinks we must because the latest company to enter the music discovery fray is, well Yahoo. Yesterday, the company debuted its audio search engine, "the most open and comprehensive index of audio files on the Web." If this move, along with Apple's sanctioning of podcasts, and all the iPod and iTunes competitors cropping up, doesn't prove to you that music and entertainment are the biggest play of the new economy then I don't know what will.

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