Though the recent announcement of official contenders for control of the .music domain included representatives of Amazon and Google, the two strongest competitors appear to be Far Further and DotMusic. Each company has lined up an impressive array of supporters. Far Further is supported by a wide range of music industry associations while DotMusic is backed by an even broader coalition of government and regional organizations, music industry associations and businesses supporting indie music.
The organizaton in charge of domains is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a US-based nonprofit that is still in the midst of transitioning to an international approach to domain administration.
ICANN's New Generic Top-Level Domains process began last year and opened up the possibility for organizations with a lot of money and technical support to apply for almost any domain suffic they wished. Recently all the applicants and proposed domains were listed including those for .music.
The two highest profile applicants for .music, Google and Amazon, are going for as many domains as possible earning them "land grab" headlines. Though either company could clearly handle the technical requirements, the fact that they are both US-based, huge commercial entities making broad moves suggests that they may be bested by organizations with an international reach focused more specifically on music. The two applicants fitting that profile are Far Further and DotMusic.
"Founded in 2008, Far Further has an executive staff filled with industry veterans, including Loren Balman, John Styll, John Frankenheimer and Ralph Simon...Far Further is working with a host of music industry associations such as the RIAA, the National Music Publishers Association, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Independent Music Companies Association (Impala) and the Recording Academy."
In contrast DotMusic "has won the backing of government bodies around the world, the International Association of Music Information Centres and companies such as distributors the Orchard and INgrooves Fontana." DotMusic is rooted in the efforts of Constantine Roussos who began promoting the idea of a .music domain in 2001 with a business plan for the USC Entrepreneur Program.
Each organization boasts an impressive array of supporters. Far Further's support is international and top heavy with rights organizations and music industry associations. DotMusic's support is also international with more government-related arts organizations and indie-oriented music businesses.
Far Further's website is clean and focused on the task of winning the domain. They describe their plans as making .music:
"available to all artists, musicians, songwriters and others within the music community at any level. All that is needed is a membership in any one of over a thousand organizations worldwide and a commitment not to infringe on the intellectual property rights of others."
DotMusic's website goes much deeper into details but that's partly because it's a website focused on the long-term campaign to create a .music domain. That makes certain sections a bit confusing and leads to a bit of overreach in terms of their sense of historical ownership of the .music domain concept.
One would have to know quite a bit about ICANN's internal politics and have copies of the applications, especially the proposals for domain administration, to call the outcome of this contest. Both Far Further and DotMusic appear to be strong contenders. If we base the winner on website design and copy, Far Further would appear to be stronger in terms of presentation and clarity. But if you've spent any time checking out the documents of international organizations, the dense text of DotMusic with its complex discussion of the music community may seem familiar.
This should be an interesting process with lots more news ahead. You have until August 12th to submit comments for the evaluation panel.
Note: Both sites get a demerit for talking world community but featuring a white guy with a guitar as their primary image.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.