eMusic, one of the Internet's first digital music stores, has been sold to cloud media startup TriPlay. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but in a statement TriPlay maintains that eMusic's employees and executives will be retained in the companies' integration. The news was first reported by The New York Times.
MyMusicCloud, TriPlay's music store and cloud listening app, currently offers 23 million songs, which do not include the major labels' catalogs. A year ago, eMusic itself dropped the majors' catalogs from its store, but maintained a large offering of independent music. "We are focused on the advanced indie music lovers," TriPlay CEO Tamir Koch tells Billboard. But the acquisition offers more than just eMusic's indie relationships and the opportunity to augment TriPlay's current store catalog.
Koch tells Billboard formal discussions with eMusic had been underway for the past four years.
"Technologically [eMusic is] bringing nothing [to Triplay]," Koch says. "But they have the ability, with their label relations, to offer songs at a 25 to 50 percent discount over what our users were paying previously. If you go to iTunes, most of those songs will be $1.29 -- ours are $0.49 to $0.79 per song, with some at $0.89." Those reduced prices are possible due to the membership structure of eMusic, "similar to Costco," says Koch.
Asked about the status of Wondering Sound, the editorial arm launched in March 2014 and which laid off a significant portion of its staff in December, Koch wouldn't disclose plans for the service, but says "we are working on that. It's a great service, especially for our audience."
Whether TriPlay and MyMusicCloud are doubling down on a shrinking pool remains to be seen, but signs point to... probably. In the first half of this year, streaming gains outpaced download losses, with digital revenues up overall by 6.3 percent.
Regardless, TriPlay has a razor-sharp ace up its sleeve: patents on cloud technology. The company launched 10 years ago, before the iPhone was launched or Dropbox was a household name. "TriPlay has a vast portfolio of patents... a lot of things that users today would think pretty ubiquitous. We're protective of those." To wit, the company is currently suing WhatsApp, the messaging service acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. While defensive litigation is costly, licensing the technology you own isn't. Asked about licenses to companies like Apple, Koch refused to comment.