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MixRadio shuts, and online music is still searching for a business model


Content still hasn’t found a viable, scalable and sustainable business model online, and this is more true of music than any other segment.

MixRadio, the service formerly known as Nokia Music, called it quits yesterday after 17 years of operations. It had been bought by Japanese messaging app LINE at the turn of 2014, and just a year ago, while the integration with LINE was in progress, MixRadio was trying to refashion itself as a messaging service (with Music). Clearly that never worked out. However, LINE Music, its sister concern, still remains operational.

No reason has been given for the shutting down of MixRadio, but it’s likely that the factors are the same, every time a music service shuts down:
– A complex global licensing environment, with the lack of standardization in licensing agreements in many countries, including India.
– Lack of predictability in licensing costs, and the ability of key music labels to increase prices
– Cartelization among large music labels in some countries
– Competition from highly capitalized platform companies such as Apple and Google, which have immediate consumer adoption at scale and lower customer acquisition costs.

This follows the shuttering of Rdio and Dhingana, and we really don’t know how long other such services will last.

Also read: Want To Disrupt The Music Business In India? Here’s How

Notes on the MixRadio shutdown

  • No streaming on MixRadio or via its API
  • Offline mixes will stop functioning after 30 days following their most recent client refresh
  • Those who bought music from Nokia Music can keep copies

MixRadio / Nokia Music timeline

The earliest documentation that we have of the service was in 2008, when Nokia launched its music store.

– October 2008: Vineet Taneja, then Head of Go to Market (India), Sales for Nokia, had disclosed they intend to launch the Nokia Music Store in India in early 2009.
– November 2008: Anssi Vanjoki, then EVP of Nokia, had launched a beta version of Nokia Music Store.
– July 2009: Nokia Music store went live in India and offered DRM locked songs across various genres like Bollywood, Regional, Devotional and others.
– April 2010: Nokia launched Ovi Music Unlimited service, allowing downloading DRM protected songs for one entire year with a purchase of select new Nokia devices, and keep the music even after the completion of one year.
– January 2011: Nokia discontinued discontinued Ovi Music Unlimited in 27 countries in January 2011, citing lack of traction and announced that it will continue to offer 12-month subscriptions only in China, India and Indonesia and 6 month subscriptions in Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.
– November 2011: Nokia extended Nokia Music Unlimited to Series 40 Phones.
– April 2012: Nokia partnered with payment solution provider Oxigen to allow users to renew their Nokia music subscription.
– July 2012: Nokia rolled out music store and mix radio app on Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones (via BGR.in)
– September 2012: D Shivakumar, then Senior Vice President (India, Middle East, Asia), Nokia had claimed Nokia Music Store currently has 41 lakh songs in its catalog and it has digitized 70% of the songs released in the past 100 years till now.
– November 2012: Nokia partnered Vodafone and Idea to provide operator billing for its music service to Vodafone and Idea subscribers.
– July 2013: Nokia started preloading its free music streaming service Mix Radio with Nokia Music to select Asha smartphones like Nokia Asha 305, 308, 310 and 311.
– September 2013: Microsoft acquires Nokia and Nokia shuts its online music store in India
– November 2013: Nokia Music becomes Nokia MixRadio and expands to Lumia phones
– July 2014: MixRadio to be spun off as a separate company
– November 2014: MixRadio unlimited downloads subscription renewal no longer available in India
– December 2014: LINE acquires MixRadio
– March 2015: On MixRadio’s future (our interview)
– May 2015: LINE launches LINE Music
– Feb 2016: LINE announces that MixRadio will be discontinued
– March 2016: MixRadio shuts down

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