"Terra Lycos is a leader in content and commerce and we plan to leverage that leadership position to offer Listen.com’s music services to a vast audience."
——Sean Ryan, Listen.com


Listen.com Sub Service Partners With Portal, Inks Licensing Deals With Zomba, TNT
"The Celestial Jukebox has finally arrived," reads the hype on Listen.com’s site for the company’s streaming-only online music subscription service, Rhapsody.

Well, maybe not. But the digital enterprise has found a significant new distribution platform in portal Terra Lycos and is also announcing content deals with the Zomba label group and mega-indie TNT.

These new developments bolster an already substantial array of licensing pacts, covering Warner Music Group, BMG, EMI and Sony as well as beaucoup indie labels. And limited CD-burning of some classical music. And access via home-stereo gizmos. And live music from really stoned jam bands. And about a million other deals.

Rhapsody’s placement on the Lycos Music site provides the latter with a new revenue stream—nothing to sneeze at in these days of advertising drought—and gives the former access, it fervently hopes, to millions of Internet denizens. The resulting service, Lycos Rhapsody, will offer customers free, unlimited access for the entire month of June.

Hey, eleven more months like that and they’ll be able to give Grokster a run for its, um, money.

Anyway, once the month ends, users can choose from three different "tiers" of the service. The true cheapskates can select a free radio service with 20 stations. Those with a little pocket money can fork over $4.95 per month for Tier two (50-plus stations with no commercials, the ability to skip tracks and CD-quality sound). The big spenders can drop a monthly ten-spot for everything in Tier two plus unlimited on-demand streams.

So, what is this Terra Lycos, you ask? And where are those gypsy guitars coming from?

Headquartered in Spain, Terra Lycos boasts sites in some 43 countries and claims to reach 115 million unique users per month. Its properties include search engine HotBot.com, tech news source Wired.com, Gamesville.com, the passionately Spanish ATuHora.com, finance site RagingBull.com and a bunch of others that are undoubtedly foreign and probably dirty.

Terra Lycos embraces life! Terra Lycos lives in the moment, mijo! Oh, sorry, we got swept away there.

"Terra Lycos is a leader in content and commerce and we plan to leverage that leadership position to offer Listen.com’s music services to a vast audience," proclaimed Listen CEO Sean Ryan. "Also, I hope to use this agreement to weasel many trips to the saucy tango bars of Barthelona."

And after a few bottles of sangria, there’s nothing like the sound of prefabricated, hormonally overdriven teenpop. And you can stream that stuff to your heart’s content, thanks to Rhapsody’s pact with Zomba, which includes Jive superstars Britney Spears, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. The group also controls music from Jive, Verity and Silvertone, of course. But it’s the pounding adolescent romanticism of teenpop that gives us that delicious 1998 feeling—you know, before all the bad things happened.

You say dance music programmed by Swedes to steal kids away from Barney isn’t your bag? Well, thanks to Rhapsody’s TVT deal, subscribers can also stream cool-as-hell rock from Nine Inch Nails, Default, Guided By Voices, Sevendust and XTC, not to mention hip-hop hitmakers Naughty By Nature and C.M.C. featuring Ja Rule.

Will it all add up to something that’ll make folks offer up their credit-card numbers, at long last? We can only wait and see. But for people without the bandwidth or hard-drive space for mass downloading—especially at work—Rhapsody offers the most comprehensive streamable catalog yet. Whether this will allow it develop a profitable niche in the online entertainment world depends on issues depends on issues too numerous to explore here.

In the meantime, the Listen folks will continue to do the thing they do best—make announcements. Remember this one? Or this one? And how about this one? Good times.