- San Francisco-based CNET Networks said it has signed a definitive agreement with Vivendi Universal Net USA to acquire the assets of MP3.com, with the deal scheduled to close in December. Terms of the transaction were not released. CNET Networks operates an array of technology-oriented Web sites including CNET.com, Builder.com, GameSpot, mySimon.com, News.com and ZDNet.
News of the deal first surfaced in an e-mail sent by MP3.com to its customers and posted to its site late Thursday.
Here’s part of the email that went out to artists:
- Nov 13, 2003 at 17:44:13 Important MP3.com Announcement
CNET Networks, Inc announced today that it has acquired certain assets of MP3.com, Inc.
Please be advised that on Tuesday, December 2, 2003 at 12:00 PM PST the MP3.com website will no longer be accessible in its current form.
Following a transition period, CNET Networks, Inc. plans to introduce new and enhanced artist services. If you would like to receive email updates on these new services and notification when they are available, as well as an invitation to their special artists-only preview, please sign up here.
Your personal information, music, images, related content or other information will not be transferred to CNET Networks, Inc. or any other third party.
MP3.com’s content administration tools will remain available until the site is redirected on December 2, 2003. Please note, however, that promptly following the removal of the MP3.com website, all content will be deleted from our servers and all previously submitted tapes, CD-ROMs and other media in our possession will be destroyed. We recommend that you make alternative content hosting arrangements as soon as practicable.
Please remember to update or remove all links and references to the URL www.mp3.com. Additionally if you would like a historical record of your page, we recommend that you capture screen shots of the page as well as your artist statistics pages since they will no longer be available once the site goes offline….
Kind of sad.
- MP3.com was once the standard-bearer for digital visionaries looking to the Internet to undermine the power of the traditional music business. By offering free online storage space and access to any band, signed or not, the company and founder Michael Robertson hoped to create a new distribution mechanism that would expand how people got music and what kind of music they listened to.
Robertson did succeed in winning the enmity of the major record labels, who sued the company for tens of millions of dollars when he launched a service that allowed people online access to music they owned. But the rise of Napster and file-swapping did as much to eclipse MP3.com’s star.
With free access to major label and other music available through Napster, people flocked to it and other trading networks instead. Robertson ultimately sold the MP3.com property to Vivendi Universal, which maintained the unsigned artist database but used the company’s technology to launch Pressplay, the digital music subscription service co-owned with Sony Music Entertainment.
After a corporate shakeup, and the realization of mounting debt, Vivendi lost interest in maintaining money-losing digital assets. It sold Pressplay to Roxio to let it run Roxio’s new Napster service. MP3.com is one of the last music assets to go, following the sale of digital music company Emusic to a New York investment firm last month.
CNET Networks representatives said the company aims to augment its position as a provider of interactive content through the acquisition, with plans to enter the online music market through MP3.com. However, a company representative said the revamped site would not compete with music download services such as Napster. Instead, the company plans to turn MP3.com into a source of information for digital music.