HITS Daily Double
"MusicNet is pleased to offer enhanced features and more of the music that consumers love."
——Alan McGlade


Five PR Dispatches in Single Day Describe Deals With Major Labels, or Something
Sure, MusicNet—the online subscription service co-founded by WMG, BMG, EMI and RealNetworks—has completed licensing deals for music from all five majors. And yes, they’ve added new agreements that give subscribers new flexibility, including the ability to burn tracks to CD and transfer them to portable players.

But what has insiders buzzing is the company’s unprecedented five press releases in one day. It’s a new high-water mark in publicity, and throws down the gauntlet of hype before the rest of the industry.

What brought MusicNet to this new benchmark of self-congratulation, after nearly a year of diligent quietude? Let’s start with the deals themselves.

As many observers long ago predicted they would, MusicNet closed deals to get music from Universal Music Group and Sony Music, the parties behind "rival" online joint venture pressplay—which in turn inked licensing pacts that allowed it, too, to offer tracks from all Big Five labels. In your face, Judge Patel!

In a furious quintuple-blast, MusicNet proceeded to trumpet its licensing pacts with UMG (Eminem! Diana Krall! UMG eLabs chief Larry Kenswil!) and Sony (jams from J.Lo, Dixie Chicks and thousands more, plus a canned quote from a "very pleased" Michele Anthony), not to mention "additional digital rights" deals with WMG, BMG and EMI.

What rights, you ask? How about permanent downloads, as well as the ability to download tracks to "secure" portable devices and/or burn them to CD-R?

It’s the sort of groundbreaking development that moves the people involved to gush about "dynamic music offerings" (WMG’s New Media maven Paul Vidich), "a wider range of options and a deep selection of music" (EMI N.A. Chairman/CEO David Munns) and "the development of a meaningful digital music market" (BMG COO Michael Smellie).

Kenswil, in a typically frolicsome mood, added, "Legitimate online music consumption is about to explode. UMG is supporting as many legitimate online music services as possible."

Yep, when reps from every major-label group jump into the same roiling Jacuzzi of self-celebration, it truly brings a tear of joy to the eye. Or is it just the chlorine?

But the true P.T. Barnum of online impresarios has to be MusicNet chief Alan McGlade, credited with blurbs in every PR salvo. Let’s sample his wares in medley form, shall we?

"MusicNet is pleased to offer enhanced features and more of the music that consumers love. Extending our partnership with Warner Music Group gives MusicNet access to some of the world's top artists... EMI also boasts some of the world's most well known artists... Sony Music Entertainment boasts some of the world's best known-artists... UMG's catalog includes some of the world's best known artists and we're thrilled... BMG's quality music catalog and is yet another step forward... BMG's quality music catalog and is yet another step forward..."

Cynics might suspect McGlade’s staff worked from a template, but the subtle differences in timbre are audible when he reads these quotes aloud.

"Proud as I am of MusicNet’s latest round of breakthrough agreements, I’m prouder still of these press releases," McGlade might have declared. "While it remains to be seen whether MusicNet will one day fill the hard drives and portable devices of a majority of online consumers with music, we have already fulfilled our mission of stuffing the inboxes and fax machines of deadline-crazed journalists with reams and reams of announcements. My thanks and congratulations go out to the people who have helped me generate mountains of thanks and congratulations."

In a related story, John Ashcroft declared dancing and singing to be an abomination unto the Lord today, and looked forward to the swift passage of laws against both heathen practices by the Republican-dominated House and Senate.