Without explanation or fanfare, the Ruckus digital music service targeted at university networks has gone out of business. A posting on the company's Web site simply says "unfortunately the Ruckus service will no longer be provided."

The company offered several tiers of service and types of content. The free, ad-supported service worked like any other music subscription service, simply substituting advertising in place of charging a monthly fee, and carried the same DRM restrictions services like Napster and Rhapsody have. For $15 a semester, the service added access to TV shows and movies. Only users with a .edu e-mail account could access the service.

Ruckus is the last in long string of digital music casualties attempting to crack the university market. Both Napster and Rhapsody had college programs that tried to get the university to buy a cut-rate subscription for all students, a fee with was either absorbed or passed on to the student in the form of tuition or activity fees. A similar tack was taken by Cdigix. All had an initial period of success, which quickly tapered off due to a lack of interest from students.

The company's shutdown also raises questions about the Total Music joint venture it was acquired serve as the backend infrastructure for. A blog post written by VP of product management Jason Herskowitz suggests the initiative, in its most recent form anyway, is over. But exactly what the status of Total Music is and what role if any Ruckus will play in it remains unclear, although bloggers at TechCrunch have declared the program dead.

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