Microsoft Loses Urge. Now What? Buy Last.FM

microsoft last fm Microsoft Loses Urge. Now What? Buy Last.FM

Microsoft and MTV partnered over a year ago to provide the Urge music service on WMP and yesterday MTV announced that they would be ditching their Urge brand to will team up with Rhapsody. Now this poses a question as to what is going to happen to Windows Media Player, since Urge was its primary music provider.

Many people loved Urge and are kicking and screaming that they’re now stuck with something that comes from Real. I don’t blame them. My experience with Rhapsody software has been plagued with sluggishness, crashes, bugs, and DRM issues to name a few. Others I’ve talked to have also had major problems running Rhapsody, so I’m not alone.

For Microsoft, this could be a blessing in disguise and a chance to convene their fragmented efforts in portable media.

Zune and PlaysForSure

Microsoft shot themselves in the foot when they made the decision to create a closed ecosystem around the Zune. I completely understand the benefits of a closed ecosystem—brand unification, simplified/single user experience, integrations of the Xbox 360 and the Points system, etc…

However, the benefits have been, without a doubt, overshadowed by the many downsides of a closed ecosystem. I see a lot of iPod refugees, and a good majority of them leave because of the iTunes ecosystem with regard to being locked to a single piece of software as well as only being able to purchase music from one store. So why would they leave one ecosystem to join another?

Microsoft also stepped on the toes of partners for whom they’d built the PlaysForSure DRM platform by directly competing with them with the Zune DRM platform. There was absolutely no consideration for device manufactures and music providers who bought Microsoft PlaysForSure platform. Why would you try to compete against a standard you worked so hard to build and campaigned others to adopt?

So now it is time for redemption.

All is not lost. Microsoft can mend its business relationships and restore consumer choice by merging Zune with PlaysForSure. From a technical standpoint, this is not a difficult task since the Zune DRM and transfer protocol are mearly a bastardized version of PlaysForSure. Firmware updates can be pushed to consumers though the Zune software.

Buy Last.FM

Last.FM is a fantastic way to discover new music. We have recently started a Last.FM group for abi forum members. The problem is that most of us use portable devices to listen to music, therefore our listening statistics are incomplete or nonexistent. MP3 player users have not been able to take full advantage of Last.FM and pleas for this integration have fallen on deaf ears.

Last.FM is a great opportunity for Microsoft to gain a valuable and needed social music feature to compete with Rhapsody. However, Micorsoft would not be building a music service like Rhapsody. Rather it would be creating a layer to facilitate music sales though its partners on its PlaysForSure platform – and ultimately DRM free music which is the next evolution in music sales.

This is just one example on how Microsoft can play with Last.FM. There are a few variations on that theme which will work, but there is no doubt that they need to do something and Last.FM is a property worth investing in.

Microsoft’s music space is unnecessarily fragmented in terms of devices, providers, DRM, and media players. Without unifying their music model they will continue to confuse consumers and lose their trust, along with the trust of their business partners.

In addition to reassembling their music efforts, Last.FM may be what’s needed for Microsoft to regain its composure and create a lasting stake in the music business.


twit on August 22, 2007 1:39 PM

CBS bought a few months ago, I doubt it’s up for sale

EnzoTen on August 22, 2007 1:44 PM

Everything is always for sale. Not to mention it doesnt fit CBS’s core business. They bought it because they wanted to get into that new thing they keep hearing about digital audio. Last.FM will be a waste if it continues to sit with CBS, they dont know how to use it and cannot take advantage of its synergistic effects on other aspects of their business. Old media does not no how to use new media to their advantage, yet.

StinkyPete on August 22, 2007 2:43 PM

You seriously want Microsoft of all people to be part of something as personal as Last.FM? Microsoft is the stodgy old great uncle that tries too hard to be cool. I’d rather get my entertainment products from someone other than the people who make my office applications.

EnzoTen on August 22, 2007 5:23 PM

@SP… you are seriously in the dark. Go buy an Xbox do a little research, then come back here and try to make more an an intelligent comment. Ignorance and misconceptions will get you nowhere.

StinkyPete Rides Again! on August 22, 2007 6:35 PM

This IS AnythingButiPod, right? A website for media players that aren’t the mainstream? It seems a little odd that you are advocating Microsoft of all people to be involved in music distribution. The last company I want involved in music is Microsoft, unless you like cookie cutter music, in which case, I apologize, and best of luck to you. Personally, eMusic all the way, and they load on any player: Zune, iPod, Zen, Sansa…..Not sure what the Xbox has to do with an MP3 player, but it isn’t something I’d be bragging about. It has horrible overheating problems, with something like a 25-33% failure rate. The failure rate is so bad they’ve extended the warranty to 3 years. Scratches disks, too. It does have a game library, I’ll give you that. I said earlier, Microsoft owns my life at work, they aren’t getting me at home. My opinion. It’s not ignorance or misconception. Up until the original Xbox, their primary business WAS business.I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. Notice the uptick in Linux & Mac, Firefox, Google, etc., and the downturn of IE, MSN Search, Hotmail…./StinkyPete out, and going back to a less corporate place… sounds nice….

Slaughter on August 22, 2007 8:17 PM

Stinky, you dont run an MS OS at home? I bet you do. And since when is AnythingButIpod not promoting mainstream players? You are saying that the iPod is the ONLY mainstream player out there. Did you ever try Urge? Just because it had MTV, VH1 and CMT as partners, their catalog was similar to all the other music services. What good is emusic for those who don’t want to buy lossy music? Different strokes for different folks. You are thinking like a consumer and not like a business. MS will do something to build up their music platform and Last.FM would definitely be a possibility.

skippyg on August 22, 2007 9:22 PM

iPod being the only main stream player? what about the Zunes? and well. Creative is barely mainstream. other than that, i wouldnt mind with Rhapsody, and im currently using it and absolutely LOVE IT! (works extremely well with my ZVM at least)

Utew on August 23, 2007 12:51 AM

Dead on, Enzo.. with your comments regarding MS.. one minor quibble.. I believe Microsoft shot themselves in BOTH feet.. on multiple occasions regards the Zune and it’s software ecosystem.Redemption? perhaps…. call me cynical, but if Last.FM is a good fit for MS, then it’s unlikely they will see the light and act in a beneficial manner to their own self-interest. I would expect some other solution to the problem that involves highly convoluted thinking resulting in a less than inspiring outcome. But hope springs eternal…Let’s hope the lessons (eventually) sink in and MS can avoid another blunder-by-committee decision.

Jon on August 24, 2007 4:08 AM

With the closing of URGE and the crappieness of Rhapsody software as opposed to Windows Media Player…I finally jumped ship and purchased a Zune on for $150.00. Truly a steal for a brand new Zune….albeit white.I feel like I just gave away a bit of my freedom and choice…but lets hope that Zune will be updated with Audible support and Video downloads and Xbox 360 integration.

Lee on August 31, 2007 6:29 PM

A lot of this depends on software and firmware and for that iTrust Apple :) need to chum up with Apple and Creative at the very least possibly iRiver. What need to do is work with the DAP industry and sell them on the idea that scrobbling IS a sexy feature for their hardware, but further to need to offer podcasts of recommends ODEO style, possibly with spoken introductions, possibly without, so we can actually break away from the computer screen.Scrobbling is a small part of a massive landscape of joy, some players now have PIM functions like a calendar, well there’s a chance for to place data onto people’s players. But then Microsoft do PIM syncing quite well, but then Apple are on the verge with their PIM’d iPods.A srobble-enabled package, from the player to the software which collects playcounts submits and retrieves event data (and of course podcasts of recommends, multiple enclosures of 30 second clips), that’s a killer feature.Apple might just get there first, let’s pray MS don’t.

Machiventa on September 1, 2007 6:00 PM

quote: “The problem is that most of us use portable devices to listen to music, therefore our listening statistics are incomplete or nonexistent. MP3 player users have not been able to take full advantage of Last.FM and pleas for this integration have fallen on deaf ears”if your player is a MTP device then you might have luck scrobbling using [url=]Zenses[/url] – it was created for the ZVM but works with a number of other players.

Chris on September 8, 2007 12:59 PM

I’m a great fan of But the day Microsoft gets it into their clutches, I’ll have my profile deleted (which would be quite a loss to me). I don’t want Microsoft to own even more personal data about me as it already does.

El Casey on September 11, 2007 9:54 AM

I *don’t* run a Microsoft OS at home (Linux) and Last.FM works brilliantly for me. The last thing I want is Microsoft screwing everything up with DRM BS or Windows Media formats, which are just a pain in the ass (though not as bad as APE).Last.FM is a good service and I enjoy its community…Microsoft will only make things worse (per usual).

fredericthewise on December 16, 2007 9:28 PM

I run ubuntu and all this drm bullshit irks me. Why? Because I hate microsoft? No. Hate apple? No. I just want to hear the bloody music on my computer. They should make a drm universal codec of some sot that can be installed on any popular operating system.

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