Goodbye MP3.com! As of 12 p.m. PST today, the popular music file-sharing site will pull its content offline. Those who use the service to post their own music for fun and for profit are disappointed by the news and scrambling to find new options.
In November, CNET Networks, Inc acquired certain assets of MP3.com, Inc and announced plans to introduce a new MP3 music service (music.download.com) in early 2004. However, the current site content will not be transferred to the new service. In a statement released by MP3.com, the site encouraged users to download and save all their posted files. After today, “all content will be deleted from our servers and all previously submitted tapes, CD-ROMs and other media in our possession will be destroyed.”
Composer Joseph Pehrson was a long-time user of the service. “MP3.com was of great value to me,” he says. “It was a way to get my music out to a large number of people without spending the $10,000 that is considered ‘normal’ for composers to pay to fund a commercial CD.”
Pehrson had posted over four hours of his music on the site, and it netted him real results. “Toward the final years,” he says, “my statistics page indicated that more than 300 new people per month were listening to my MP3.com pages, so I think it introduced a lot of new people to my music.”
Lev Zhurbin had a similarly successful experience and is disappointed to see the site fold. “MP3.com was immensely important in my development as a composer,” he explains. “It was one of the first places where my music found its listeners, where I searched daily for new and interesting music from all over the world and learned.” Connections made through the site brought him in contact with project collaborators and even fostered a record label deal currently in the works.
Zhurbin is a big proponent of the MP3.com concept, and hopes to find a new home for his 150 posted tracks soon. “Where else could a composer/performer create something and have it available worldwide the next day, create CDs, communicate and collaborate with others? It was a fantastic opportunity.”
Pehrson has moved his tracks over to soundclick.com, which he says is also looking like a good way to share tracks (all posted content can be accessed for free by the listener—the site does not have a vehicle that allows posters to charge for downloading mp3 files). MP3 files can even be downloaded to portable devices.
MP3.com had made headlines in 2000 for paying artists a few cents each time someone listened to their song. (Zhurbin made a few hundred dollars in just a couple days when the site editors featured one of his tracks in an MP3 greeting card). The Payback for Playback program ran out of cash though, and eventually the site was charging the artists to post their content once they had more than three tracks up.
The financial ruin of MP3.com can likely be traced the lost legal battle it waged with the RIAA. The site’s my.mp3.com venture, which gave users online access to commercial CDs they could prove they owned (by inserting them into their computer) without them having upload the tracks themselves. The technology was meant to eliminated time-draining and bandwidth-consuming uploads on the customer end, but the RIAA didn’t see it that way, and neither did the courts. MP3.com ended up shelling out around $75 million to resolve the issue.