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

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 8:03am


    And so, they die.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 8:03am

    "Seriously. Windows Media Player DRM. Didn't that die out years ago?"

    Damn, I really feels sorry for those technologist who were locked away for four years.

    But then again, we have to face the fact that third parties cannot truly innovate as long as the labels have complete control over their plans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 8:16am

    Whoa Kazaa

    I had forgotten about this program for the most part. It had been delegated to the memory banks of the evolution of file sharing only be thought about when people requested such information (which is pretty much never).

    And now they're back. I give them 6 months before they close up shop (and I feel that I am being generous). As stated, they are offering nothing that consumers want. Nothing. Why do the labels and others think stuff like this will work? Consumers have already spoken about what they want, and this is not it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    The Bishop, 4 Aug 2010 @ 8:18am

    Locked in a Room...

    Playing with my Monkey.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 8:45am

    Throwing money away

    If people are happy to throw money away on things that may be non-infringing, but are less useful than the potentially-infringement-facilitating alternative, perhaps they should try throwing money at the more useful alternatives?

    Here's a prototype I made a few years ago: Quidmusic. No DRM. The musician sells their music. Copies are free (in both senses). The fans can share and remix all they want (the artist has been paid).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    scarr (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 8:54am

    Brand Equity?

    Why would anyone want to leverage the name "Kazaa"? It was notorious for basically being a trojan, packing all sorts of adware into its installer. It only retained popularity for a period because it had access to more content than the competitors. People liked what it delivered, not what it was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    scarr (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 9:02am

    Re: Brand Equity?

    Furthermore, I believe it was the bloating of their software that drove people away from Kazaa and to torrents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    R. Miles (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 9:48am

    I'm just speculating here...

    ...but this was a deliberate release by the recording industry so it gives them power at a later date to tell Congress "But there were many who tried to sell but customers weren't buying. The stole it instead. Pay us."

    As a programmer, I can almost write out this script:
    RICAP*: Well, since we sued your ass out of existence, we own you. Start coding.
    Kazaa: With what? You killed our ad revenue.

    RICAP: Not our problem. Code, or we'll sue you again.
    Kazaa: Fine. [3 months later, delivers a product]

    RICAP: What's this shit?
    Kazaa: Online streaming with DRM.

    RICAP: No, it plays in too many players. Restrict it to one.
    Kazaa: Which one?

    Kazaa: But that's a dead player?

    RICAP: Again, your point?
    Kazaa: (sighs) [presents another product]

    RICAP: Oh, you have got to be kidding us. What's with this customized options and flexibility you're giving to users?
    Kazaa: Well, we thought...

    RICAP: No. Listen, this is simple: develop a product no one wants using technology we can control in a manner that makes listening to music difficult so they will run to iTunes and buy it for the outrageous price of $0.99. You're not making a real product, so stop trying.
    Kazaa: You know, you're dicks.
    *RICAP is not a real entity. Any similarities and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    I'm also betting Kazaa probably went through quite a few programmers to get the job done.

    Way to go, RICAP. Score another victory for your... hold on... gotta move this file so it's not in the shared folder... asinine attempt at market control.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), 4 Aug 2010 @ 9:56am

    Re: I'm just speculating here...

    Incisive speculation too.

    It can be compared to the speculation that Murdoch has every expectation that paywalls will fail, but he has to try them in order that their inevitable failure can be used to justify collection of a news tax or levy.

    RICAP also has to demonstrate that both copyright enforcement and 'legal' alternatives fail to deter piracy in order to collect a music tax or levy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    BruceLD, 4 Aug 2010 @ 11:52am


    Good ole KaZaA. I won't miss the days when the malware writers devised a system where no matter what scrambled letters and numbers you typed in, it always returned a result where the download tried to scam you.

    Anyways...ummm...yep. DRM-riddled WMA will make them rich. Yep...uh huh...that'll...ummm...work. Yeah...hmmm...it will...umm..for sure.

    Okay. I have to go back to my free and unrestricted torrent downloads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2010 @ 4:51pm

    I always thought that, that name sounded like some old kung-fu movie from the 70's "Kazaaaa!".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    PT, 5 Aug 2010 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Brand Equity?

    Oh, wow. Download unlimited rootkits and key loggers for only $15 a month! How can I resist such an offer?

    I'm afraid the Kazaa brand is irretrievably damaged by its past reputation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Brandt Morain, 5 Aug 2010 @ 5:44pm

    Bravo Kazaa!

    Hello again everyone.

    Bravo to Kazaa for having the guts to stand up against criminal piracy.

    As expected, the industry is vindicating Brandt Morain's Anti-Piracy stance. In the last few months Warner Music, Kazaa, the FBI and ISP's, and even Prince are following Brandt Morain's bold move.

    These developments, and more, clearly indicate that piracy and copyright infringement are terrible for business and blatantly illegal.

    Brandt Morain took a lot of heat originally for refusing to sell their debut CD until piracy is solved. It now appears that the solution may be coming sooner rather than later.

    These recent industry moves illustrate that Brandt Morain was WAY ahead of the curve.


    Marie Summers
    Director of Marketing
    Brandt Morain Studios


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)


Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.