The Rise and Fall of

Last week CNET announced that it is buying “certain assets” of It seems to me that has never really been sure of (1) its purpose or (2) how to make money. If memory serves me, was originally going to be a service for people to “store” mp3s online. You could set up an account where you proved that you owned a copy of a certain cd and then listen to songs from that cd from’s central server. The whole thing was controversial and changed their focus after getting sued for copyright violations.
Next started relying on promoting unsigned artists. They offered a place for artists to host their music and sought revenue from licensing that music. At first, they actually paid the artists for this, inducing people like me to sign up. I never had enough clicks to get any money, and I always wondered why such bad songs always seemed to come out on top. (The website was very much chart-based. I suppose the thinking is that the charts make the site easy to maintain (fresh content) while at the same time promoting the most popular (thus best) music. I don’t think that worked at all. I think the charts were a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those near the top just stayed there because it was the first place people could click. The charts I looked at remained stagnate for years.)
I doubt that paying unsigned artists while distributing their music for free (usually) was a profitable strategy. That would explain why’s next move was to charge artists for the ability to get paid. That sounded rather pyramidal to me. Since I didn’t want to be the one paying those bad artists at the top of the charts, I stuck to the free service.
I really like the idea of a music community where unsigned artists can exhibit their work, but I think failed when they started looking at the artists as potential consumers rather than providers. Hopefully CNET will do a better job.