Yahoo! Music has been revamped – again – and this one announced (more or less) on April 7 – is clearly inspired by the company’s strategic imperatives of “open” and being the "starting point” for any Internet activity. In this case, online music.
With the revamp, Yahoo! Music is looking to become the Internet’s mass aggregator of music information (like lyrics), free streaming music services (like Pandora and Last.FM), links to online music stores (like iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store) and, well, gosh you name it. If it’s got something to do with music and online music, it might be there on the Yahoo! Music pages. Besides serving ads, Yahoo! Music will also generate revenue by getting bounties (“affiliate fees”) for driving customers to iTunes and Amazon’s download stores.
A key feature of the new revamp, user customized artist pages, is by no means complete and isn’t real easy to find, at least for me. One types in an artist or band name and what appears to be a conventional set of Yahoo!Music search results pops up. Only when one hits the link to, say, “Stephen Malkmus” that one gets to the revamped artist page. To my way of thinking, if I type in Stephen Malkmus, why wouldn’t I be taken straight to his homepage? Disambiguation? I think not. Granted, he’s played in Pavement and the Silver Jews, but if the searcher’s spelling is close enough why present the user with a generic search-result page? Same with searches done on Neil Young or Johnette Napolitano.
In the past three years, we’ve seen multiple iterations of Yahoo! Music from the LAUNCH days where one could watch music videos online, to the Yahoo! online music subscription service. While the subscription service fell victim to the dominance of iTunes and subscription-model DRM challenges (as in Microsoft decided to launch its proprietary Zune music service and device family soon after hardware OEMs started building portable devices based on Microsoft DRM for service providers such as Yahoo!), Yahoo! Music persevered.
Yahoo! Music’s managers are essentially following the company’s strategic mantra’s of “open” and making any Yahoo! property an important “starting point” for online consumers. And that’s probably not a bad move. Given that Yahoo! averages somewhere around 280 million visitors a month, and that the company’s primary revenue stream comes from advertising, becoming the “starting point” for some percentage of those 280 million monthly visitors, while getting some bucks from driving sales to Amazon or iTunes is probably not a bad deal for a Yahoo! property.