Michael Robertson has been a thorn in the side of the music business longer than just about anybody, including Steve Jobs and Shawn “Napster” Fanning. He created the original MP3.com (history here), which, like Napster, was shut down by a record industry lawsuit, and more recently created Mp3tunes.com — which allows you to upload music and listen to it through the browser.
Now he’s taking another crack at the industry with the launch of something called AnywhereCD. But before the new venture was even a day old, Michael’s plans, which he writes about on his blog, had hit a major snag. The service is designed to allow music fans to buy a CD and instantly get access to mp3 files of the same songs — but without necessarily taking physical delivery of the CD. This apparently got at least one label upset: Warner Music came out within hours of Michael’s announcement and ordered him to remove any WMG files from the service — even though all the appropriate royalties would be paid as though someone had actually bought the CD. Warner said in a statement that AnywhereCD was selling its music in a manner that “flagrantly” violated their agreement.
I’m continually struck by the bizarre contortions the industry forces people to jump through. The original MP3.com had a service called My.MP3.com, which allowed you to listen to music through the browser after verifying that you owned the original CD — which I thought was brilliant. It was shut down too (MP3tunes.com requires you to upload all the music before you can listen to it). Warner’s response seems particularly out of step given that some labels like EMI are offering straightforward non-DRM files.
Is the record industry doomed to just never get it?