Kazaa Returns As Expensive, Crappy DRM'd Music Service

from the good-luck-there... dept

Remember Kazaa? The name was synonymous with file sharing following Napster's demise. It got shut down by a series of lawsuits a few years ago. Last we heard from the company, it had settled lawsuits with record labels and music publishers and promised to go straight. That was in 2006. Since then... nothing. Until now, when it launched its new "authorized" music service. You might think that, given the four years between it announcing plans for a legit music service and the actual launch, there would be enough time to actually create something new or compelling. Instead, it appears that it's launching a service that would have been state of the art back in... 2006 when it settled those lawsuits. From Jon Healey's review:
I haven't had much time to explore Kazaa, but my first impression is that the Web-based service is miles behind the competition. It's as if the company locked its technologists in a room four years ago and they've just now emerged, having missed the growth of social networks, the explosion in smartphone usage and the death of music DRM. The service costs $15 a month -- 50% more than Rdio, MOG or Rhapsody -- and doesn't have a mobile app. Instead, it offers unlimited streams and tethered downloads (that is, songs wrapped in electronic locks to deter copying) that can be played only by Kazaa's proprietary plugin for Windows Media Player.

It also has only rudimentary social-media features, most notably the ability to play other users' playlists and to watch a continuously updated list of what other users are playing. And although there are a handful of "editor's picks," there's no preference engine to recommend tracks based on a user's tastes -- a major handicap when it comes to discovering music. Essentially, users are left to search for tracks or artists they already know, or take unguided tours through the library's eight genres.
Seriously. Windows Media Player DRM. Didn't that die out years ago?

Healey also notes the amusing fact that Kazaa's relaunch happened to come the same day that Kazaa's original founders, Janus Friis with Niklas Zennstrom, launched their latest startup, Rdio, which is also an authorized music streaming service. While I've played around with Rdio and find it to be a pretty weak offering -- overall, it sounds miles ahead of the "new" Kazaa. It really does make you wonder what Kazaa has been doing for the past four years.

Filed Under: drm, kazaa, music, music services
Companies: brilliant digital, kazaa


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  1. icon
    Toby Sullivan (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 11:37am

    Don't forget, they did once succeed

    Once upon a time, Kazaa had its great idea. It was huge. Everybody loved it. And they paid the price of success. They got shut down harder than most. I don't blame them for taking the safe route and being completely lame.

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