Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Free Campus Music

Honestly, if you were a college student would you sit through 45 pop up ads just to get a free song?...perhaps...if it also came with Cliff Notes and a case of beer...

Ruckus Offers Free Campus Music
Will ads-for-music formula work with a demographic unwilling to spend a buck for a song?January 22, 2007
By Cassimir Medford

Ruckus Network on Monday became the latest digital entertainment site to offer free music in exchange for the consumer’s tacit willingness to sit still for advertising. But will marketers get excited by a college student demographic unwilling or unable to pay $0.99 for a song?

It is also unclear whether the free music offer would include an “upsell” to a premium, paid-for service, which would be immensely more attractive to marketers.

Herndon, Virginia-based Ruckus, a network that targets university students, said that any student with a valid .edu email account would be able to download full tracks from its more than 2.1 million-song library for free.

The company joins a growing list of online outlets, including the soon-to-be launched SpiralFrog, which jolted the industry last August when SpiralFrog announced a deal to distribute Universal Music Group’s song catalog for free in return for the consumer’s availability for ads (see Universal Offers Free Music).

Slow Demand
The slow adoption of paid-for digital music subscription has forced many in the field to seek new wrinkles to spur consumer demand in the iTunes/iPod dominated market.

Napster has dabbled with an ad-supported model and SpiralFrog emerged as the poster child for free music, but with SpiralFrog still in pre-launch mode no one knows for sure if that business will work.

Ruckus has pre-existing licensing arrangements with all of the major labels and thousands of independents, so unlike SpiralFrog it gets a running start on the music end of the ad-for-music model.

Through contractual agreements with 100 schools, including the University of Southern California, the University of Denver, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University, Ruckus has built an online entertainment network focused on college students.

The company, which is backed by Battery Ventures and Shelter Capital Partners, said it has signed “several thousand” students to its online community. But its free music will be offered to anyone with a valid .edu email address, thus extending its reach among college students.

Ruckus’ original business model was based on fees paid by the universities for its less-expensive services, but only a few universities paid for the privilege.

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