Yahoo Music Unlimited.... And That's It???

Just to stir some thoughts up here, I would like to point at, as a long time user of legal Windows Media DRM content, I’ve seen alot of DRM music stores come and go…

Liquid Audio quit their distribution business around the same day iTunes came to Windows. (I think they still have Wal-Mart Digital Downloads, though.)
Virgin Digital quit the business in the U.S.
MusicNow was acquired by Circuit City, merged into AOL Music Now, then was discontinued and merged into Napster.
MTV’s URGE service, fedup with Microsoft’s Zune efforts, is basically folding into Rhapsody in the next few months.
C-TRAX, a college based music provider discontinued their services entirely.
Sony CONNECT is still in limbo. (It’s not a Windows Media DRM provider, but it proves my point in continuing music stores their existance.)
MusicMatch Downloads merged into Yahoo Music Unlimited and software discontinued.

See my point?

Now for subscription services (in the U.S.) we still have:

Real Rhapsody
Yahoo Music Unlimted
F.Y.E. To Go

What’s to keep Yahoo from giving up on Yahoo Music Unlimited and making the Sansa Connect unusable?
(What to keep Yahoo from thinking something dumb, like they can’t compete against iTunes and close the store down? Others have!!! Yahoo Is No Different…)

Would Sandisk be willing to update the firmware to another provider, like RealNetworks if it came time for the bridge to be crossed? Or would we haft to buy an updated Sansa Connect?

I’d think when you make a device such as this and brand the entire firmware with a Y!, you take into consideration those little things.

Curiously, since Sandisk already has a working relationship with RealNetworks on the e200R series, why didn’t they go with Rhapsody instead of Yahoo when they worked with Zing, to design the Sansa Connect?

RealNetworks thinks Windows Media DRM dying a slow and painful death as it is, and I tend to agree, because of Microsoft’s very own Zune ambitions and aspirations. That’s why they’re trying to “buddy buddy up” with the likes of Sandisk & iRiver to bring their Rhapsody DNA platform (Helix DRM) to portable devices, thus replacing Windows Media DRM. And since record labels are considering DRM-free music, I’m sure Real intends to use use Rhapsody DNA to drive the continued use of the subscription platform with future content providers, interested in offering secured content.

(I’m surprised Napster hasn’t already licensed Rhapsody DNA from Real and implemented in their subscription system!!!)

“Never put all your eggs in one basket.”

(Yes, I own a Connect and love it.)

Message Edited by bigcraig01 on 08-28-2007 08:26 PM

Yep!!! Something was bound to happen. It would be interesting to see what Sandisk would do with us Sansa Connect owners…



Yahoo’s music subscription service could soon go the way of Sony Connect, according to the Wall Street Journal, which speculated that Yahoo could scuttle or overhaul its Yahoo Music service to please investors disgruntled by Yahoo’s flattening profits and apparent proposal to outsource search ads to rival Google:

“Other likely outcomes from Yahoo’s [restructuring] process: The company slims down some of its activities. Its Yahoo Music service, which has about 250 to 300 staff, is among those expected to be trimmed and its fee-based subscription music offering overhauled or shuttered. Overall, the company plans to move staff around and freeze some positions, though significant layoffs aren’t expected, people familiar with the matter say.”

A friend told me about Yahoo’s hiring freeze about a month ago, but this sounds potentially more serious for Yahoo Music employees and customers of the site who have downloaded, rated, playlisted, and organized music obtained as a part of Yahoo’s music subscription.

When Sony recently shuttered its Connect service, it instructed Connect subscribers to burn their protected music to CD and then rerip it into another format.  But Yahoo’s subscription tracks can’t be burned to CD, so things could get complicated for the company if it leaves its music subscribers twisting in the breeze.

On the other hand, an overhaul option is also apparently still on the table… Yahoo could finally ditch Playforsure DRM and double down on DRM-free music once and for all.

This does not mean YMU! is closing FOR SURE… But it does show impending issues!!!

Message Edited by bigcraig01 on 09-12-2007 10:25 AM

Dear Mr. BigCraig,

Relax.  I work for Yahoo and there is no hiring freeze.  I don’t work in the music area, but I can attest the Yahoo is a very profitable, and vibrant company.  We are hiring engineers faster than they are being born. 

That said enjoy the player for what it is.  Personally I’m more concerned about Zing being acquired by Dell than I am about the state of the Yahoo music business.  Zing is under contract to keep updating the Connect, but for how long?

So choose your concerns.  I choose to enjoy my player.

By the way, if any one knows or is an experienced LAMP stack developer send me a private message.  (Sorry if I’m violating the forum rules).

Whatever you say dude… I’ll relax knowing I have MTP/DRM10 support on the Connect capable of supporting other music stores. I wish Sandisk and Zing would’ve used Rhapsody, instead of YMU!. Real has alot (technologically and otherwise) invested in the digital music scene, especially with MTV. I think half of the VMA’s the other night were sponsered by RealNetworks. Every commerical break featured advertising for Rhapsody.

I thought Sony CONNECT would never go away, either… Sony spent countless years pumping money into R&D for ATRAC3 and Walkmans, just to release an e-mail a few weeks ago saying they were discontinuing CONNECT in March 08 and releasing new Walkmans based around Windows Media DRM 10, and dumping ATRAC3 support entirely, here in the states.

The only online music service safe from anything is iTunes and I will NEVER use that again!!!

Beyond YMU (which I’m not the biggest fan of) I like Yahoo’s services and features. I just wish they didn’t charge for POP3/SMTP access for Y! Mail.

Google doesn’t.

BigCraig ,

                    Or anyone out there who owns this item , i am a simple traveler , looking to use this item just to stream winamp ( soundcast ) radio .

Is it possible to do this with the Sansa Connect ?  Can you download the winamp player or a plug in to connect to the sound cast radio somehow ?

Or possibly connect to a stream web address ? For those who have this please help me out . Thanks !

Currently, it is NOT possible to access Shoutcast servers or any other service outside of Yahoo Music Unlimited’s preselected downloads (with required “To-Go” subscription) or LAUNCHcast Radio, which I believe is free with a Yahoo ID. LAUNCHcast is Yahoo Music Unlimited’s Radio portion of the service with several pre-selected genre’s and playlists. You should be able to continually skip to the next song, when listening to LAUNCHcast Radio on the Sansa Connect. You just can’t go back.

You are requesting the ability to stream free internet radio (encoded in MP3’s) via Shoutcast servers onto the Sansa Connect. It is not yet possible. The hardware can obviously do it. It’s the software (firmware) that holds it back as it hasn’t been implemented and it is unknown if Zing/Sandisk plan to implement this in a future firmware update. Unfortunately, the device was developed with Yahoo in mind, atleast for the time being.

Yahoo is reporting that Virgin Digital U.K. is closing. Virgin Digital also recently closed here in the U.S.

Another MSDRM music store bites the dust…

Thankfully, I never purchased anything with them in the U.S., cept subscriptions.

I get that Unlimited to Go might be vanishing.  To me, it makes the most sense, as others have said, that Unlimited tracks will need to be purchased before they can be put on portable devices and the separate subscription To Go will just stop being offerred.

However, I haven’t heard anything about Launchcast (or Launchcast Plus).  Does anybody know if Launchcast Plus might stop?  I was guessing not: Yahoo! Music is getting a facelift and radio seems to be part of it.  The part that would be too bad would be if Sansa switched from Yahoo to Rhapsody.  So many rumors-- does anybody know if there are going to be changes regarding service on the Sansa Connect besides the To Go service?

I have no idea what’s true and what’s not true, rumor-wise with Yahoo Music Unlimited. All that we know, is that they’re scaling back their music offerings to a certain extent.

All I know is the time-line is like such:

Yahoo purchased MusicMatch, which already had an online store and on-demand service of it’s own.
Yahoo launches Yahoo Music Unlimited & Yahoo Music Jukbox (which has little in common with MusicMatch feature or looks-wise).
Yahoo merges MusicMatch DRM authentication servers into Yahoo Music Unlimited for previous MusicMatch purchases.
Yahoo partners with Zing and Sandisk for the Sansa Connect.
Yahoo partners with Cingular/AT&T for OTA purchasing, but not downloading. (Along with Napster and e-Music)
Yahoo discontinues MusicMatch Jukebox altogether.
Yahoo starts trimming the online service entirely atleast via advertising. (Obviously it’s original functionality at a technical level it still intact)
Yahoo Music Unlimited’s “To-Go” offering still exists, but only advertised for Sansa Connect users.

All over the course of 2 1/2 years…  Less I missed something.

I’m sure Sandisk & Zing knows the fate of Yahoo Music Unlimited.

If something happends to YMU, Sandisk only has 2 choices if they want to maintain the Connect’s current functionality.

  1. Partner with Rhapsody or Napster. (The only other music store with subscription functionality is F.Y.E.)
  2. Create their own music store. Which I doubt they’ll do.

As I state above, there aren’t that many PlayForSure subscription providers left. YMU, Napster, Rhapsody and F.Y.E are just about it. URGE is merging into Rhapsody.

Napster, atleast as far as I know, has been looking for buyers for quite sometime… I think the perfect buyer for them would be Sony in my opinion. Sony put the Napster logo on their packaging for the new Windows Media DRM enabled Walkmans, so they know each other exists.

As Microsoft is loosing URGE (it’s cornerstone WMP 11 music store) to Real Networks, Microsoft could modify the Zune Marketplace to be a PlayForSure certified service. They will be releasing the Zune 2.0 soon. Microsoft could make the Zune and Zune Marketplace a regular PlayForSure all across the board with new firmware updates and a few backend DRM tweaks. I’m sure they’re considering this and would be surprised if they weren’t. I mean, how are they gonna replace URGE? They’re gonna do something.

Maybe Yahoo Music Unlimited will exist, but if it isn’t bringing in enough revenue to justify itself to the stock holders, it could be gone in an instant, just like any other service.

These cut-backs are for the stock holders, I can assure you of that…

Message Edited by bigcraig01 on 09-30-2007 02:44 PM

BigCraig, you seem to be very knowledgable about Rhapsody vs. Yahoo.  Do you know how the bitrates/formats (quality) compares?  I’m especially interested in the radio components.  I had thought that Rhapsody radio was limited compared to Launchcast, but it doesn’t actually look so bad in terms of choice.

FYI (for what it is worth) This was posted on Yahoo’s message board a day or two ago.

Yahoo! Music will continue to support the To Go tier of Yahoo! Music Unlimited for the foreseeable future. If you already have a To Go subscription and a compatible portable device, there will be no change to your service. At this time, To Go is only accepting new subscribers through select partner channels such as SanDisk (Sansa Connect). Yahoo! Music Unlimited for PC remains available for all new subscribers. Apologies for any mixed messages you may have heard on this topic.

Yahoo! Music

If you can believe them we at least have a little time.

Right.  Who were those other partner channels, again?

Have a look at this link to see various music service bitrates compared.

MMM… “For the the forseable future” This don’t inspire much confidence to me.

Anyone else inspired by YMU-TG the forseable future???

Well, I guess that gives Sandisk enough time to prepare “Blan B” if they’re gonna embark on it.

My thing is, as much as I want Sandisk/Zing putting newer features on the Connect in relation to YMU right now, is it worth it knowing that the “To-Go” portion is being scaled back, atleast via advertising?

I just don’t want Sandisk/Zing putting so much effort into a firmware/device that relies on a service (with an uncertain future) in order to fully operate. Talk about “Eggs In One Basket”.

I say, “Whatever!” on the topic. If they add music purchasing in the next firmware utilzing YMU, I wouldn’t use it less it’s DRM-Free!!!

Come on Sandisk, atleast Rhapsody or Napster!!! As of now, I could care less as long as it has a future!!!

At this point just stick DRM-Free MP3 purchasing on the device. It’s safe to say the mighty has a future.

To Irv…

Sorry 3 Weeks Old…

Yahoo Music Unlimited uses 192kbps Windows Media Audio for both YMU! To-Go and YMU! Purchases.

Real Rhapsody uses both RealAudio (AAC with Real proprietary headers) at (I think) 128-160kbps and Windows Media Audio at 160kbps for it’s subscription services. Rhapsody purchases are ALWAYS in 192kbps RealAudio AAC or (RealAudio 10) and have the RAX extension.

The RealAudio AAC shouldn’t matter to you unless you have a Sansa e200 R series from Best Buy only. Otherwise subscription music WILL be in Windows Media Audio and purchased music will be converted “on-the-fly” from RealAAC (with Helix DRM) into Windows Media Audio with a Windows Media DRM license. Note that RealAudio AAC files can only be played back in Rhapsody and RealPlayer 10/11.

I’m explaning my knowledge about subscription/purchases within the respective services. I don’t know about Radio bitrates because I rarely ever listen to Radio. All premium services tend to stay at around what people would call CD quality, if they’re an active subscriber…

Message Edited by bigcraig01 on 10-19-2007 12:21 AM

For what it’s worth, my " Yahoo! Music Unlimited Subscription Service Annual To Go" came due yesterday, and an automatic credit card payment of $143.88 was made, or at least appeared to have been–today it lists “Next Payment” as 10/18/2008.

see link here

Yahoo Music Unlimited will not make it, without going DRM-Free.

They’ve already advertised their services as being primarly subscription “To-Go”, so if they’re trying to back off that concept, I can assure you that the potential Yahoo Music Unlimited customer base that would’ve used YMU for PURCHASING al-la-carte, probably won’t give the homepage a second look to notice any difference.

They’ll know it’s a subscriptions service, based on prior advertising and they won’t give it a second chance. Yes, you can purchase music aswell and maybe that could’ve worked to their benefit atleast if they started out advertising like that.

Now Yahoo has’t to atleast relaunch the service and potentially rename it to Yahoo MP3 Downloads, and advertise the service as a MP3 DRM-Free Purchase reseller, no different from AmazonMP3.

Subscription services whether it be to the desktop or “To-Go” hasn’t exactly been a money making venture for Rhapsody or Napster, let alone Yahoo!.

I honestly want subscriptions services to succeed, but until iTunes goes subscription, it seems as if subscription services will be a niche, very few are willing to understand, let alone utilize.

I’m hoping that tomorrow, AT&T launches an OTA music download service before CTIA…

C-Net Crave…

“…and that AT&T will reveal a new music service on Monday. Could it be that America’s largest carrier is bringing us wireless music downloads? We’ll have to wait and see.”


Napster and AT&T are going to provide over the air music downloading to mobile phones next month. Before this, you could purchase Napster music over the air, but had to connect it to a computer to get it on your phone, like an traditional MP3/WMA Player. Now songs can be purchased and downloaded onto handsets over AT&T’s UMTS/HSPDA network… Early next month. Don’t know what phones will have the capability… It will most likely have Windows Media DRM. You will recieve a PC copy of your purchase, though.

Message Edited by bigcraig01 on 10-21-2007 08:54 PM