Even more consolidation in the world of digital music, and a new chapter for eMusic, one of the very first sites to download music as MP3 files. The company was acquired by TriPlay, an Israel and New York-based startup that operates various online media services including MyMusicCloud. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we understand from sources that the deal is less than $ 26 million, which is less than the last publicly disclosed price Vivendi paid when it was acquired by eMusic in 2001.
The companies say the deal was a mix of cash and stock, with eMusic employees and services both included in the deal.
eMusic has been around since 1998, and it was once one of the most popular digital music sites.
But a combination of forces worked against the company. The core economics of music downloads mixed with eMusic’s all-you-can-eat business model; the dominance of Apple’s iTunes in the download world; and the gradual rise of streaming services like Spotify, which proved to be much more popular, were all challenges for eMusic.
All of this has resulted in a carousel of management and ownership situations for the company. eMusic, which listed on NASDAQ in 1999 in the first dot-com boom, was the first online music company to go public. It was then acquired by Vivendi in 2001 for $ 26 million (as part of Vivendi’s digital music grab which also included the purchase MP3.com for $ 372 million) after his stock collapsed.
It was then sold two years later to the investment group Dimensional associates for an undisclosed amount. In 2013 he finally merged with a digital book company, K-ONF, founded by futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil (who now works at Google on machine learning and language processing).
As for the fate of Media Arc, as the combined music / digital books company was called: a spokesperson confirmed that eMusic had been “taken” from Media Art and that K-NFB remains a separate company that is not part of of the agreement.
Nowadays, eMusic offers a sliding scale of tariff plans for a staggered number of downloads. It also has a free “discovery” service to attract punters. TriPlay’s MyMusicCloud works on two levels: a free tier with unlimited free storage and the ability to sync and play up to 250 tracks on five devices, with ads. A tier that costs $ 40 / year has unlimited free storage, unlimited track syncing and playback on 10 devices, and ad-free.
TriPlay says the deal will make it “one of the largest and most comprehensive digital music services in the world, comparable only to Apple iTunes and Amazon with a wide range of features including its own music store, player music and accessibility on more than 14 platforms. through the web and apps. TriPlay says it will now have a catalog of 25 million tracks and a user base of âmillionsâ of users (no specific number disclosed).
While eMusic will stay true to its download roots, TriPlay will now offer its users the ability to match those songs with tracks in the cloud to access them on multiple devices, breaking one of the limitations of the download model.
It’s not clear whether this mix will be enough to compete with the biggest players in the world, especially given Apple’s entry into the combined download / streaming space; and the fact that Spotify – currently the top-grossing app in the App Store – and its various rivals (including Deezer, on the verge of going public) have managed to convince huge numbers of music consumers that streaming no download is the way to go.
What TriPlay seems to be banking on is the idea of ââtapping into more eclectic tastes and the long tail of music, playing on eMusic own move last year away from mainstream music in favor of independent labels.
“We are thrilled to partner with this digital music industry pioneer to bring all of our users the wide variety of music they love in a comprehensive next-generation platform, packed with the features they want. and what they need, âsaid Tamir Koch, founder and CEO of TriPlay, said in a statement.
âThere is a lot more music in the world than you find on the radio. Our large catalog, global access and wide selection of features are what millions of eMusic and MyMusicCloud users are looking for. Over the next few months, our users will begin to see significant improvements as we introduce the full music service they want, accessible anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
TriPlay, based in New York and Israel, is backed by $ 16 million, including $ 11 million from Fortress Group earlier this year, and $ 5 million headed by Kazakh oligarch Kenges Rakishev, who also invested in Mobli and other startups.