Four years ago I sold the
to the largest music company
in the world. A company I started in my living room had become the
digital music leader, helped establish MP3 as a worldwide standard, and
made me financially independent. But I didn't accomplish all of my
goals. I wanted to build the system that would move the music business
into the 21st century.
While at MP3.com I
coined the term "music service provider" (MSP) to represent this future
direction. It seemed clear to me that eventually your entire personal
music collection, like all data, would be stored online. Once online,
you simply request your music files be loaded onto any device you want
to use. Or anywhere there's net connections you can play your music
directly from servers. It's safe from theft or hardware catastrophes
and infinitely expandable with features to help you organize, playback
and find new music.
In 2000, MP3.com
built such a system - a password-protected locker system called my.mp3
- and was immediately bombarded with an avalanche of lawsuits from the
music industry. To load a locker, consumers had to insert an actual CD
and then MP3.com
would zap the tracks to their locker from a database of more than a
million dollars worth of CDs MP3.com
had purchased. It was a brilliant system because music fans got instant
digital gratification and labels sold more CDs, since that was the only
way to load your account. It did not obsolete the CD like other digital
music initiatives but made CDs more valuable.
Not wishing to break their string of suing every new technology for 7
decades, the music industry sued us on a legal technicality. They
claimed we infringed their copyright when we digitized the CDs
initially. (Remember, we paid for the CDs and users had to have their
own copy to gain access.) The music companies convinced one judge of
their claims and the damages were so massive that, in spite of our
undisputed evidence that the my.mp3 service actually sold more CDs, MP3.com
could not even post a bond to appeal. So my.mp3 went away and a
terrific opportunity for phenomenal and balanced technology was lost.
Since that time, data lockers have become increasingly popular. There
are generic lockers that give you space for any type of files. There
are specialized lockers for email (like Gmail), photo hosting and even
video lockers like vmix (started by ex-MP3.com
employees). But there have been no music lockers - until now.
like to introduce Oboe, a personal music locker to store all
your music and make it accessible from anywhere on any device. Unlike
my.mp3, users are required to upload all their own files. That was
impractical in 1999, but doable today given broadband's widespread
popularity. Oboe makes it a snap to sync all your files by providing
easy to use software for Mac/Win/Lin. One click and all your music is
in your online locker. From there you can sync them to other computers
for offline playback or play them directly from the web interface. It even
keeps track of all your playlists and moves them to the web or to
For iTunes users, we're providing a fantastic plug-in that makes iTunes
even better. You can now sync your music directly from within iTunes.
Click on "Oboe," enter in your account name and password and all your
iTunes music and playlists are moved to your online account. Then you
can move the music to another computer or stream it directly from your
online locker in iTunes format. Oboe works with all types of music
files including MP3, OGG, WMA, and AAC. It will sync files you buy from
iTunes or Napster, but these digitally restricted (DRM) files won't
play in the web locker interface.
Oboe is $39.95 per year and immediately available to users worldwide.
It includes unlimited storage, unlimited syncing bandwidth and
unlimited streaming at 192kbps. We are going to limit the number of
Oboe sign-ups initially so we can ensure ample storage space and the
best service we can provide for early adopters. A free account will be
available for those who just want a taste of the technology. You won't
be able to sync, but you will be able to start building your personal
library by collecting any online track via our unique webload and
sideload features and then stream those tunes.
The fundamental goal of Oboe is to make all your music available to
you on all devices. Rather than lock you into a Microsoft "Plays for
Sure" or an iPod monopoly, I want a world where you can play your music
on products from any vendor and even across vendors. The first version
of Oboe makes it possible to have your music on any PC - Macintosh,
Microsoft Windows or Linux - and works with any music software. Before
the end of the year, we're going to publish the Oboe APIs making it
possible for your music to be zapped to any phone, PDA, tablet, game
console or any other device with speakers.
In five years, carrying around an iPod and having to plug it in various
places will be as quaint as carrying around a wallet of cash in our
credit card society. It will be replaced by a smart net-based system
which seamlessly moves any music you acquire or play-lists you create
everywhere you listen to music. That's the world I want. That's what
Oboe will bring. I hope you'll give it a try and sign up today!
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