Yonder, a new music service that is designed to come bundled with Android smartphones appearing "free" to the consumer, launched this week. Initially available on unlocked HTC One phones, the service allows you to download and stream unlimited music building an audio library as you go. The company is led by Founder and CEO Adam Kidron, controversial founder of Beyond Oblivion, an all-or-nothing effort that crashed and burned in early 2012.
Beyond Oblivion Bet It All and Lost
In early 2011 Hypebot's Kyle Bylin, in a generally sceptical piece, stated that "to labels, Beyond Oblivion looks to be an oil field to bleed dry."
When Beyond Oblivion shut down, taking $87 million with it, Adam Kidron pointed to such issues as the challenge of "co-ordinating the diversity of the ecosystem" and stated:
"Beyond was always a tremendously grand ambition as the advances required by the record labels and music publishers were substantial, reflecting the breadth of the rights required to create a true digital music one-stop."
So one could cast Beyond Oblivion's failure as due to licensing issues but a closer look revealed more:
"The CEO was insane, and that's why the business failed."
While this take may seem extreme, check out the above linked article for more on the details of an enterprise that undermined itself and entered agreements that required success in a form yet to be seen in the music industry.
Now Adam Kidron's back and, in a surprisingly gentle piece by Ben Sisario, he tells the NY Times that he's "humbled."
Well then, all good.
Yonder Launches With Big Vision, Modest Start
Yonder launched yesterday with a still grand vision but taking smaller steps. According to a press release, the big vision goes:
"Yonder provides users with pay-wall free access to millions of songs to download, and play, commercial-free, replacing traditional paid download, streaming, and Internet radio services."
"Yonder is a transformative solution that targets the 99% of consumers that don’t currently pay for a music subscription service, increasing the size of the digital music market, while paying content owners in proportion to their content plays."
So Yonder will reach the masses and everyone gets paid.
Yonder launched in Beta in modest form on two HTC One phones. Development is being focused on Android devices and has been outsourced.
But Yonder also launches with a "complete catalog of music from major labels" (UMG, Sony Music, WMG) and a "fast developing selection of independent artists, and labels."
The licensing is key as is the more modest rollout. As Kidron explained to Ben Sisario:
"To prove its model, Yonder will try to sell just 10,000 devices containing its service, including unlocked models of HTC’s One phone, the M7 ($479) and M8 ($679). If the plan succeeds, the company hopes to make large-scale deals with manufacturers for phones around the world carrying licenses granted by music companies."
"Yonder’s profit would come from a share of those music licenses, which Mr. Kidron said range from as low as $15 in poor countries to $80 in the richest markets."
While it sounds like there's a lot of dealmaking and many challenges ahead, it looks like Yonder is off to a reasonable start.
- Beyond Oblivion: How A Once Promising Music Startup Lost $33.3 Million
- Digital Music Startup Beyond Oblivion Burns Through $87M, Crashes Before Launch
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.