MSN Music is dead - Long Live Zune Marketplace!
The headline says it all. The MSN marketplace will shut its doors permanently on November 14th. The date coincides with the release of Microsoft's portable media player dubbed Zune and the launch of Zune Marketplace. On the 14th the "Buy" buttons on MSN Music will link directly to Zune Marketplace or partner service Real Rhapsody. Customers of MSN won't be left in the cold however, if you've already got an MSN subscription you'll still be able to download as normal.
The Real Rhapsody button connects users to RealNetwork's streaming music service. The partnership is the result of a legal settlement from last year's anti-trust dispute between Microsoft and RealNetworks. It's nice to see them getting along so famously now.
Make Deals, Not Anti-Trust Litigation. Somehow I don't think that slogan will be printed on T-shirts anytime soon, but it should be.
The purpose of shutting down MSN Music is to re-brand Microsoft's music service in the image of Zune. This follows the conventional wisdom of players in online music market like Apple. It makes sense, apparently MSN Music wasn't doing so well anyway. MSN Music sounds so dry. Zune Marketplace sounds so much more zippy.
Now that Microsoft is saying good bye to MSN Music it's also in effect saying good bye to it's own DRM PlaysForSure in favor of Zune's DRM. The only companies left peddling PlaysForSure will be third parties like well… everybody else that sells music online that isn't iTunes or Zune Marketplace.