Beyond Oblivion, a New York-based startup with an innovative approach to digital music, has shut down before its product ever launched.
A January 3 post at LinkedIn by Janet Mitchell, the company's Sr. Director of Human Resources and Staffing, reveals "the final day of operations for Beyond Oblivion Inc. was December 30, 2011." The Financial Times reported on the impending shutdown on December 30. Billboard.biz was not able to reach a rep for Beyond Oblivion for comment.
The New York-based startup had raised an impressive $87 million in funding. In March 2011 the company announced a $77 million round of funding led by News Corp. and Wellcome Trust. The Financial Times reports that $55 million of the funding was tied to benchmarks that were not achieved.
Beyond Oblivion's never-launched product was called Boinc, a music subscription service tied to electronics devices such as PCs and mobile phones. While the trend in music subscription has been the freemium model, which puts the onus on advertisers or end users, Beyond Oblivion sought to generate revenue through electronics manufacturers. A one-time licensing fee paid by a manufacturer would allow the device's owner to play, download and share music throughout the life of the Boinc device.
Although the business model was certainly innovative, it was also complex in nature. A typical music subscription service needs to deal with rights holders to license music for its service. But Beyond Oblivion had to deal with both rights owners and the manufacturers who would license Boinc - effectively doubling the complexity of bringing a product to market. It was that difficulty of "co-ordinating the diversity of the ecosystem" that led to the company's failure, Kidron told the Financial Times.
Delays seemed commonplace. One promotional video at the company's YouTube channel announces a launch on October 10, 2010. When Boinc was unveiled in August 2011, the launch was said to be a few months away.
There is a silver lining here, however. While investors' bets on Beyond Oblivion did not pay off, investors showed interest in digital music at a time when licensing music was thought to be a turnoff to venture capital firms. Beyond Oblivion showed the marketplace continues to acknowledge that music is still ripe for transformation. It may not have had the right business model or team, and the end result was a bust, but at least Beyond Oblivion was able to bring a new, venture-funded idea to the marketplace.