Being first can be a serious competitive advantage, and in the increasingly crowded space for digital music distribution, it may be the “killer app”. According to a report from Webnoize, key record company executives received a demonstration of a fully functional subscription platform that will be employed on the recently announced service from BMG Entertainment, EMI Recorded Music, and AOL Time Warner’s Warner Music Group.
Progress in the development of MusicNet, announced officially on April 2nd, has apparently been a well kept secret at RealNetworks, where engineers have been quietly working for nearly a year on the streaming technology the record labels will use. The service will also add a digital download function, but that will take several more months.
The fact that top executives were able to see the demonstration indicates that MusicNet may be leaps and bounds ahead of its competition in the race to bring major label content to consumers in a way that protects rights holders. Streams will be protected so that they cannot be recorded without authorization.
While RealNetworks was unable to confirm that the demonstration had taken place, Webnoize says that an unnamed source from at least one label said that the meeting indeed took place, and that the technology is close to finalization. MusicNet’s main competitor; Sony Music and Universal Music Group’s joint venture dubbed “Duet,” and the service promised by Napster; are not yet ready for prime time. Because RealNetworks has been the de facto leader in the streaming media space, it has been able to ramp up very quickly to create MusicNet.
While licensing issues, hiring of an executive staff and marketing and sales teams as well as other matters remain incomplete, it’s clear that MusicNet is now the leader in the race to introduce a subscription music service this summer.