|Defunct||May 19, 2003|
|Owner||Universal Music, Sony Music|
PressPlay (stylised pressplay) was the name of an online music store that operated from December 2001 until March 2003. It was created as a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment in response to the popularity of Napster.
Universal and Sony created PressPlay rather than joining RealNetworks' online service MusicNet, which had signed BMG, EMI and AOL Time Warner. It was originally announced under the name Duet in May 2001 and launched as PressPlay in December 2001.
Apart from Universal and Sony, the service carried some music from BMG, EMI and Warner, as well as various independent labels. It was branded for multiple services, most notably Yahoo.com.
The service allowed users 500 low-quality audio streams in DRMed Windows Media Audio, 50 song downloads and 10 songs burnt to CD, for $15 a month. It could also build and store users' playlists. Not every song could be downloaded, and users could not burn more than two tracks from the same artist to CD. Downloads expired after 30 days. Songs could not be transferred to a portable player.
Artists were paid around $0.0023 (0.23 of a cent) per song. Many artists, outraged at this rate and stating their songs were being used without proper permission, sought to have their music removed from the service unless they were paid a licensing fee rather than a CD-style royalty.
Even before it was launched, the restrictions meant the service was not attractive to consumers. PressPlay and rival MusicNet were given the shared 9th place in PC World's 2006 list of the "25 Worst Tech Products of All Time", which stated that "the services' stunningly brain-dead features showed that the record companies still didn't get it".
Universal and Sony had also licensed at least a portion of their catalog to other, more successful online music stores such as Streamwaves' Christian music service HigherWaves, FullAudio and Streamwaves' full product.
- "Try pressplay digital music service's free trial and start to stream, download and burn today!". 2002-09-05. Archived from the original on 5 September 2002.
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- Strauss, Neil (18 February 2002). "Record Labels' Answer to Napster Still Has Artists Feeling Bypassed". New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
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- Menta, Richard (17 May 2001). "MusicNet and Duet: downloads expire after 30 days". MP3newswire.net. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
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- Witt, Stephen (2015). "Chapter 13". How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy. Viking (published 16 June 2015). ISBN 9780698152526.