So far, web music company Slacker has been living up to its name. Launched in March to high fanfare, and resurfacing again in June with the close of a $40m financing, not much has been heard from them since. That may soon change.
The company founded by three former CEO’s has been ambitiously trying to marry three musical delivery channels into a single product. Part 1 is a Internet radio station that features personalized music streaming similar Pandora or Last.fm (bought by CBS). Part 2 is a desktop music management application that marries the personalized radio services with a customer’s own music files – kind of like taking iTunes and giving it radio functionality. Part 3, which was scheduled for a summer a release that has not happened, is a small portable player (like an iPod) that will sync with the software to update music wirelessly via WiFi. The player also promises the unique ability to download new tracks via satellite through an accessory car kit. This satellite feature, which is able to work around the Sirius/XM monopoly by using proprietary technology to move data on unused commercial satellite signals, is truly unique.
The Internet radio component has been live for some time. But for months there’s been no news, and few rumors, explaining the delay in bringing the Slacker player to market. The absence begged the questions: Were delays due to hardware and manufacturing? Bugs in the device still being sorted? Or were they about it content? A strategic holdup pending licenses from more music labels? Nobody’s been talking.
Today, Slacker announced licensing deals with three of the Big 4 music labels: EMI, Universal and Warner. (Sony/BMG was already on board.) Slacker also secured thousands of independent labels. These combined licensing deals will insure that once launched, the Slacker player won’t languish for lack of available music. Instead, the libraries of content are there, ready and waiting. The deals also remove one obstacle that might have been responsible for their delays.
With music locked up, Slacker is one step closer to getting their hardware player out of the test labs and into the market. No date is set, but you have to imagine they’re shooting for a market release in time for holiday sales if at all possible. They’ve had all summer and $40m to figure it out. Results are probably due soon.