As soon as the concept of online music became successful, many entrepreneurs saw this as a definite business opportunity: Sell music online! This was required because the online radio stations weren't making enough money from advertisements and it was self-explanatory that the interest in online music had grown tremendously.
The first company that approached the online music store phenomenon was Sony back in 2000. They launched "The Store," but the idea of purchasing music online failed at that time because of the high royalties, other fees and taxes. There simply weren't enough customers to keep up with the high liabilities.
After the failure of The Store, various other companies tried to break into the online music market. Universal coupled with Sony to create "Press Play," and EMI, AOL and BMG created "Music Net." However, despite being backed up by Yahoo!'s serious marketing capabilities, none of them could succeed.
The first company that brought a breakthrough to the market of online music was Apple. This shouldn't surprise anyone because they had the opportunity to advertise their new online music store with the already popular iPods. iTunes Music Store represents a respectable 80 percent of total music purchases via the Internet even these days. Apple's "online + offline" synergy worked magnificently due to their iPods.
Tens of thousands of users were acquiring their music collection via iTunes because it resulted in the ability to play back those tracks on their iPods. Ultimately this allowed users to enthusiastically collect music through affordable and efficient solutions, while staying within the legal limits. It also let them continue supporting their favorite bands and artists.
iTunes tracks are in AAC format, digitally protected by a technology called Fair Play. Their bit-rate varies in the 128kbps range.
There are other online music stores. Napster's store offers tracks in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format that are protected by Microsoft's Play for Sure. Microsoft's collaboration with MTV resulted into URGE and Zune Marketplace. Songs purchased from URGE are protected by Play for Sure, while songs from Zune Marketplace are protected by Zune DRM.
The last but definitely not the least is, yet again, Real Player's online service called Rhapsody. The track's format is WMA, digitally protected by Play for Sure. What's worth mentioning about Rhapsody is that they haven't neglected non-Windows users. This service requires a monthly subscription. If you don't pay your subscription fees, the tracks can no longer be played.
The Pandora service I talked about in the previous chapter has a dedicated music store, too. For Pandora enthusiasts it is worth checking out.
Throughout this article we've analyzed the multiverse of online music possibilities. We've briefly traced back the history of online radio stations, then traveled up to the present moment's online music service varieties, including social networks and online stores.
This was one of the topics that I was anxiously waiting to shed a bit of light on because music plays a major role in our life and expanding our horizons is crucial to giving us the best music entertainment and experience. And the Internet brought these opportunities that people should use to their fullest and definitely not neglect!
Furthermore, the purpose of my article was to make you familiar with the wide range of services that are available via the Internet right now. But you must also realize that what I've mentioned in this article is nothing compared to what's available out there. Basically, zillions of websites are related to online music.
Search, expand your horizons, listen, listen ...and enjoy!
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