Friday, June 04, 2010

Kazaa Guys Launch Online Music Site (Do We Need Another One?) With A Little Help From Their ... Former Enemies

Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom -- two names burned forever into the minds of music execs -- two names who, in their minds, began the dismantling of the music industry's entire business model (and countless careers) with Kazaa, the infamous P2P service that many considered to be enable -- nay, promote -- outright theft.

Funny how the world works. Now, a decade later, those same gents are viewed as heroes by many of those same music industry execs (at least, by those dwindling few who are left). Now, the music industry is outright championing them (remember, these guys also started that little company known as Skype after all).

Case in point -- Rdio -- the new online music service founded by these two former industry pariahs, soft launches today on an invitation-only basis -- but with the full support of the major music labels who have licensed their full catalogs. In other words, these guys bit the hand that now feeds! Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?

Now, Rdio is not the first new online media venture from this dynamic duo that was fully embraced by media companies. That was Joost -- the online video site that launched with great fanfare -- and media support (including financing) -- a few years back, but later crashed and burned despite all the hype. Joost ultimately sold for pennies on the dollar ("scrap" in the parlance of VCs).

So, Rdio is anything but a "sure thing" -- especially with the tens of other online music/radio services already out there, many of whom established for years. Let's see, there's Pandora (I just wrote about the company yesterday), Rhapsody (I am a subscriber), Napster (the legitimate one of course that is operated by Best Buy), Slacker (founded by my former colleagues at Musicmatch), Spotify (another over-hyped music service with roots in Europe), MySpace music and on ... and on .... And, I certainly don't see anything -- at least from its description -- that significantly differentiates Rdio from these others.

Will Rdio "Fly Like an Eagle" -- like Skype -- or "Crash Into Me" -- like Joost (sorry, that is the only song I could think of at this ungodly early hour)?

THAT is the question.

(I'll make a bold prediction though ... Rdio will briefly soar with its tremendous notoriety, but ultimately won't make the playlist of profitability ....)