MTV Closing URGE, Merging with Rhapsody
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.forbes.com/special_contributors/2007/08/20/mtv-music-urge-tech-cx_pco_0820paidcontent.html' target='_blank'>http://www.forbes.com/special_contributors/2007/08/20/mtv-music-urge-tech-cx_pco_0820paidcontent.html</a><br /><br /></div><em>"The news was supposed to be announced at a press conference tomorrow at 11 AM in NYC, but WSJ jumped the gun on it (to be fair, no one cared about getting journalists under embargo). MTV Networks is closing its poorly received online music service Urge, and is merging it with RealNetworks Rhapsody music service."</em><br /><br /><img alt="" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/zt/2007/MTV-URGE-cancelled.jpg" /><br /><br />This is...a bomb. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.forbes.com/special_contributors/2007/08/20/mtv-music-urge-tech-cx_pco_0820paidcontent.html">There are few to no details about this</a>, but on the surface it seems like a very bad thing for Microsoft's Zune marketplace service. Here's why: the Zune Marketplace is based off of URGE. By "based off of", I mean it's exactly the same thing, only with a different skin and different music promotions. The URGE back-end provides all the music for the Zune Marketplace. Now if this back-end is merged with Rhapsody, what are the odds that Rhapsody will leave it intact enough to be used by the Zune Marketplace?<br /><br />There are many questions here: why didn't Microsoft just buy URGE themselves so they'd have a stable music platform for the Zune? The entire point in Microsoft doing the Zune was to control the experience, end to end, and try to come up with something comparable to the iPod, and certainly better than the chaos that was PlaysForsure with it's myriad of devices and music services. I doubt Microsoft is making much, if anything, off their Zune Marketplace music sales with URGE acting as the middleman between them and the music studios.<br /><br />We have to remember that while Rhapsody eventually was a PlaysForSure music partner, when Microsoft announced that the Zune wasn't PlaysForSure, we saw Rhapsody and Sandisk join together and make a lot of noise about their music+device partnership. It's safe to say that a lot of people in the PlaysForSure industry were a little upset about the Microsoft Zune and what it meant for their businesses.<br /><br />I'd find it hard to believe that Microsoft wasn't aware of this in advance, but you never know - my hope is that they've worked out a deal with Rhapsody to keep the URGE catalog and future releases inside the Zune marketplace, but unless Rhapsody has a strong financial incentive to do so, why would they continue to work with the Zune? I've emailed my Microsoft contact to ask for a response to this story - I'll post a reply when I receive it.