The bubble in digital music continues: this evening, Beyond Oblivion told The Guardian that it had secured a whopping $77 million investment. The round was led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and charity Wellcome Trust.
Instead of selling consumers downloads or streams, Beyond Oblivion wants to charge device makers — like phone and PC makers — a one-time fee to ship its software on their devices. Then, Beyond Oblivion will pay content owners every time a user plays a song through the software, even if that song originally came from somewhere else like the user’s personal music collection or the Internet.
Presumably, the manufacturers will pass along the extra cost to consumers, although it’s not clear how much it will cost.
The service was originally supposed to launch in 2010 but has now been delayed to later this year. News Corp was part of a previous $10 million round in April 2010, along with Allen and Company.
The company’s CEO Adam Kidron told The Guardian that the company has guaranteed content owners a $500 million revenue guarantee, and will return between 70% and 90% of its total revenue to them. The idea is that labels will then be more likely to licence their music to Beyond Oblivion than to other services like Spotify, which has been criticised for “microscopic” payments to record companies.
It’s an interesting idea, but Beyond Oblivion hasn’t announced any partnerships, and Spotify is getting licensing deals after all.
More to the point, it’s not clear that consumers are willing to pay extra up front for the right to listen to unlimited music. The only previous experiment along these lines, Nokia’s Comes With Music, didn’t work out and was canceled earlier this year.