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Yahoo Hits the Eject Button On its Music Service

Yet another iTunes competitor is going down the bit bucket--Yahoo will close its Music Unlimited service and move its remaining subscribers over to RealNetworks' Rhapsody later this year.

Yahoo explained the move yesterday in a post on its corporate blog:

Around 25 million people visit Yahoo! Music each month. Relatively speaking, a small percentage of those use Yahoo! Music Unlimited, yet an large portion of our resources were being poured into this service. It was clear to us that we needed to make a major strategic shift.
The post goes on to say that Yahoo subscribers will be able to "easily take their music catalogs and migrate to Rhapsody." But a press release at Real's site notes that these people will wind up paying more for "a limited time" after they're moved over to Rhapsody. Where Yahoo charges $8.99 a month for unlimited, "tethered" downloads to a computer (or $5.99/month if you prepay for a year), Rhapsody's equivalent service costs $12.99 a month.

Yahoo's pricing advantage was even stronger when it launched the service. But as the company ratcheted up its prices, then mysteriously dumped the "To Go" option that allowed copying these rented downloads to certain "PlaysForSure" music devices, Yahoo Music Unlimited had less and less to distinguish itself from Rhapsody and other services.

Some things are still unclear after Yahoo's announcements:

1) Now that the Yahoo Music Jukebox program--which has already suffered from years of neglect--no longer has a reason to live, when will the company put it out of its misery? And how much longer will it take for computer manufacturers to stop bundling this mediocre application?

2) How long will Yahoo wait to take down the "TRY IT FREE" promotional page inviting visitors to sample this soon-to-be-defunct service?

If you subscribe to Yahoo Music Unlimited, I'd like to hear your take on this. Do you feel jilted or relieved?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  February 5, 2008; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Comments

I would like to know what this means, if anything, for Yahoo Music Match, that disease riddled hulk of what used to be a really fine piece of music player software.

Posted by: Richard Mitnick | February 5, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Right now I am choking my chicken.

Posted by: Choking my Chicken | February 5, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

This is pretty disappointing. I've subscribed to Yahoo Music Unlimited for almost three years now, and listening to music via the service has become a large part of my work day.

$5.99 per month compared to $12.99 is enough of a difference that I doubt I'll continue with Rhapsody after my annual subscription expires. As a matter of fact, I may not even bother to install Rhapsody. From what I've heard PC Magazine categorizes it as "Malware". Y! Music Player is pretty buggy, but also pretty lightweight and doesn't install anything I don't expect.

I'm crossing my fingers that between now and the summer Google will step in and offer a subscription music service, but alas, I doubt that will happen.

Another good service bites the dust.

Posted by: J. Nigh | February 5, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I've been saying for years that real player is a buggy bloated beast that does indeed embed ads in your ie browser and allows pop ups even when you tell it not to under message center. I've been installing the real alternative available at www.filehippo.com. I also use the quick alternative since I can't stand quick time either. Both these players are really nice if you buy them. Problem with that is you don't need what they are selling. Plenty of free alternative that work. Namely windows media player.

Posted by: stgenerations | February 5, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I've been an Unlimited To Go subscriber for years and have about 8000 downloaded tracks. I've been reasonably happy with the service (and, of course, the price for unlimited). I only use the jukebox to download tracks. I play them with WinAmp which works great. I've also loaded thousands on my Zen and it works very nicely.

I am distressed at the news that the service is going away. I hate Real Player and hope I can continue to use WinAmp instead. I am worried about what happens to my already-downloaded tracks... the thought of obtaining them again, at higher rates, is not very appealing.

If the Rhapsody service works, allows me to keep existing tracks/licenses, works with my Zen, and allows me to use WinAmp, I can probably live with the 2x pricing. Otherwise, not a happy camper.

Posted by: m | February 5, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

More junk from Yahoo, especially since they screwed up MusicMatch! Jerks!

Posted by: Dee | February 5, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I do subscribe to the Yahoo service and I despise RealNetworks and anything that has to do with them.

Posted by: ED | February 5, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I was at a music business conference in europe last year and was surprised to see that Yahoo still considered themselves to be relevant. I thought by that time they would have realized they were finished.

Posted by: Stu | February 5, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I have the Sansa player, which was relatively expensive, that works with Yahoo only. Do I now own a very poor and expensive mini FM radio only???

If I am shoved over to Real, which I believe compromises privacy, will they even support the Sansa player?

Posted by: Sunk Sansa user??? | February 5, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I've had the Unlimited with To Go for approximately one year. I've enjoyed the music very much, especially finding music that I didn't know I liked until I could try so much music.

The Jukebox software was pretty bad and the To Go feature never worked very well. I'd often get stuck on an airplane with the software wanting to connect to Yahoo and download a license. Fat chance!

Since then, I've switched from a Windows Mobile phone to an iPhone, so I really don't care what Yahoo does except that I have one more year on my agreement. I'll likely just write that off and start buying DRM-free music on Amazon.

Posted by: Terry | February 5, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I am in no way loyal to Yahoo. I don't care if I get my music from Yahoo, Real, Apple, or (gasp) Microsoft. I admit, at first I was worried about the merger. But after reading Yahoo's FAQ about this merger, I'm not worried a bit. In fact, I feel that I'm getting a more expensive service with more options that fit my lifestyle (i.e. Rhapsody on Tivo) at a MUCH cheaper price!

In short, you can transfer to Real and migrate your downloaded tracks, playlists, and the like - or not. If you don't, you get a pro-rata refund and can take your money elsewhere. Unless you're from Canada, then you don't have the option of going to Real. Canadian users will get a pro-rata refund.

Yahoo FAQ here:

http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/music/rhapsodymigration/faq.html

Posted by: Justin | February 5, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I've hated Real software for over a decade, but when trying to find an alternative to iTunes, Rhapsody was the best I could find. I have a Sansa e250 and the "To Go" option and they work really well together. Much better than the cursed "PlaysForSure" model.

You can download tracks in either wma or Real's rax format, and then play them back in whatever player you like. I use it with my Xbox 360 all the time.

The price is higher, but Rhapsody is as good or better than Yahoo Music ever was.

Posted by: Chris | February 5, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I bought Music Match Jukebox when it was still a good product, I miss it still today. Can't stand how they junked it bu selling to Yahoo. Now I have to use iTunes at home and Windows Crap Player at work.

Winamp is cool too, I might take another look at it.

Posted by: Scott | February 5, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

wow.this is retarted

Posted by: jenbunny | February 5, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo To Go was the only part of their service I used much but was a bargain compared to the competition.
Too bad the subscription services are all pretty weak.
Cmon Itunes - lack of subscription option is the only reason I don't buy an Ipod!

Posted by: GE | February 5, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo's Music Unlimited was always an ideal fit for me in terms of pricing. It was the closest thing to what browsing on Napster circa 2001 used to be like.
Unfortunately, the client software was usually very buggy for the most part (though I think it got better in the last 8 months or so). As a result, I never felt entirely committed to it and am only a little sad to see it go. And from a pricing standpoint it was too good to be true.

I have always detested Real Player ever since they shoved their marketing during installs years back (now all too common, but they were the first to do it and were too aggressive about taking ownership of file types).

My current hope is for the Amazon DRM free approach, although I will never have access to as many songs as I did on Yahoo Unlimited.

Posted by: Howard Covitz | February 5, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I subscribed for a year as part of a Verizon dsl package. I found the Jukebox poorly implemented. It would decline to start up unexpectedly. Yahoo customer support has proven consistently poor, across all the services I attempted to use, not just the Yahoo Music. Yahoo has also not been very effective at communicating with me as a subscriber. Mostly Yahoo's paid services have been a great disappointment. Interestingly, I have found Yahoo's free services, such as Yahoo groups and Yahoo mail, to be outstanding.

Posted by: ckk | February 5, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I think this amounts to a tacit admission on Yahoo's part that Music Unlimited is an inferior product in a crowded field. Have you noticed thay every new gain by Google is met with an equal loss by Yahoo?

Posted by: CPS | February 5, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo music is/was terrible. Go to Pandora.com and make you own music station, with no commericals.

Posted by: 1-20-09 | February 5, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I've used Yahoo Unlimited for several years. Nice at first. I got tired of waiting for long periods for good stuff to appear. LOL its funny, I bought an ipod on Sunday. CYA YAHOO. M$oft is buying a turd.

Posted by: Jeff | February 5, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo's Music Service is/was supplied by MedianetDigital. (Http:\\medianetdigital.com)

As such, the music catalog and licensing should be able to be carried over to a new subscription on one of their other providers.

If you hate Rhapsody, you should be able to find someone else that is serviced by Medianet. Check their site out.

Posted by: LukeSkywalker | February 5, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

This is an example of all that is wrong with the American economic system. Customers get the shaft. When Musicmatch was sold to Yahoo!, I felt like a chattel or slave being sold down the river. Now I see that customers are not a priority, but merely a commodity like wheat or coal to big corporations, swollen with arrogance and greed. How many more times will they sell me? Truth is, I think they are going to lose me as a customer. Why on earth did they bother buying out Musicmatch if they never were serious and had no viable business plan?

Posted by: Joe Davis | February 5, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering....how many people purchased
the $40 version of Yahoo Jukebox that promised "all future versions" of the player as they became available. Jipped!!


Posted by: Roku Greg | February 5, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm very upset with this. I too use Unlimited to download my tracks and other players to actually play the songs and sync my portable. As a Vista x64 user, Rhapsody is not even an option for me...

Posted by: Disappointment | February 5, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

i have used yahoo unlimited for five years.at 12.99 i must say adieu.

Posted by: gene | February 5, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Yep - had it for three years and found it clunky but mostly effective. I won't be switching to Rhapsody at $12.99, however. Time to explore the alternatives!

Posted by: gone baby gone | February 5, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Yahoo seems to be losing the race to be an office suite in the clouds. Thinkfree, Zoho, and eDeskOnline are powering ahead.

Posted by: Sanjiv Swarup | February 6, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to Dee above, and all haters of YMM and lovers of MM10.

But, I have no problems with Real Player. I have Real Player 11 Plus. I just did not check any of their little boxes. I get no ads, no messages.

I also use Winamp Pro. Six of one...

And, Hey, Rob, it would be nice if this comment utility had a check box to notify of responses or new comments.

Posted by: Richard Mitnick | February 6, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. Here I've been hoping Yahoo! was busy working to get MusicMatch Jukebox features built back into the Yahoo! player, and instead my account has been sold yet again. I agree with most of the posters here who don't like Real, although I'll admit I was so turned off by them a long time ago that I've never given them another chance. Also, I'm not looking forward to another transition. I had enough trouble trying to get my MM tracks to play in the Yahoo! player.

I guess I'm officially up for grabs to whichever service puts out a high-quality, stable product I can use any way I choose (i.e., still not buying an iPod).

Posted by: Dan | February 6, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I am overjoyed that Yahoo woke up because its software had so many bugs. I tried it when it first came out but after a few months some lame brain decided to add something and it no longer work. Several emails later, I told them to cancel my subscription and boy was that a happy day. Yahoo wasted a lot of money on that piece of junk and should fire the lame brain who would not listen to the users complaints and make adjustments.

Posted by: nuffsaid | February 6, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Well that's just peachy. I've been using the Yahoo Music Unlimited service for three years. While it's buggy at times, it has become my main music application hooked into my main stereo from my media server. It suited my listening needs perfectly as I consume vast amounts of a variety of different musical styles. It was a great value, the model worked, for my kind of listening anyway. I'd pay more for it if I had to. Now I'm afraid I'll end up consuming far less music. Particularly new stuff and obscure things that I want to hear once every 5 years but don't want to own.

Switch to Rhapsody or Pandora you say? Sure, if I lived in the U.S. I could do this. In Canada there are no options. Even for track purchase - iTunes is, well, iTunes and Puretracks (the only significant distributor of WMA files is being run by Bell Canada now, which is the kiss of death [the founder of Puretracks just left]) is very poor both in functionality and selection.

Maybe I look into a proxy server and bill it through a U.S. credit card? Many CDNs do this for access to U.S. satellite service now. Doable for me but why do media companies make it so hard to consume copyrighted material responsibly?

Posted by: Northof49 | February 6, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The only thing decent I know of from Yahoo is Launchcast and that has its problems. Probably there are better alternatives to that as well.

Yahoo keeps de-evolving into something more resembling Swift's yahoos, and even in my memory it was generally used to refer to someone as just a stupid Yahoo. Then of course there are the Mountain Dew hillbillies who I think are yelling Ya-hoo as they shoot guns into the air. And if they aren't, they should be.

Most times when I have problems with something online and have no clue how to contact anybody it traces back to being a service of Yahoo or CNet.

Posted by: Richard Waddell | February 8, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I have really enjoyed Y! Music, and have been a subscriber for about three years. I will note that I am also primarily a Mac user, but have Windows (via Parallels) for pretty much one reason: Y! Music. I use it to stream music to my Sansa Connect and to download albums and songs for extended listening. For $5.99, what a deal. The streaming music from the Connect is great at home and the office. The added bonus is that I rarely deal with the PC client. It's great, or at least was.

And in the event, which is actually quite often, that I want a piece of music, I then go to iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and buy it. It was a great service that let you really experience the music and see if you really like something enough to be motivated to purchase.

So sad that is going to the Real Malware Platform. Will probably conclude my service and unfortunately my Sansa Connect.

Posted by: Denzo Towers | February 8, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I was a huge fan of Musicmatch Jukebox (and still find it superior to iTunes in several important respects, though I've mostly switched over). The Yahoo Jukebox was a pathetic joke, useless as a primary music library player--and after I discovered Pandora.com, I was never even tempted by Yahoo's subscription service. To me, this news is a sad ending to what was once a thriving service. But a relief, too. Once this stupidity fades from memory, I'll be able to remember MM in its prime.

Posted by: Jeff Carver | February 11, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I bought Musicmatch and paid more to have unlimited upgrades. Now Musicmatch sold to Yahoo and I basically paid the extra $20 for nothing. Was there any offer by MusicMatch to refund my money? Nope. What good are unlimited upgrades if the company decides, as MusicMatch did, to sell their product to Yahoo? I didn't buy Yahoo's player, I bought Musicmatch. Now MusicMatch no longer supports their product and I'm using something else I paid for, Media Monkey. Hopefully they won't sell to another company...I bought unlimited upgrades with them also. Bad trend methinks.

Posted by: Cearbhallain | March 22, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

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