Melodeo, Making Big Push in Online Music, Eyes Apple in the Cloud

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That presumably leaves a lot of people without mobile access to their music libraries. Which is where nuTsie comes in: the service is available for a monthly fee, or a one-time charge per device, on all major U.S. carriers, all major handset manufacturers, and all major mobile platforms including Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile devices.

Melodeo was founded in 2003 to sell music downloading and podcasting services to wireless carriers. That business didn’t work out, in part because of issues between record labels and the carriers. So the present management team, led by CEO Jim Billmaier, came in about four years ago to push the streaming music approach for mobile devices. Melodeo is backed locally by venture firms Voyager Capital and Ignition Partners, who most recently co-led a $7.9 million funding round in 2007. (Interestingly, Ignition also backed Lala.) Melodeo currently has about 20 employees.

On a visit to the company last month, I found the management team chomping at the bit to lay out its strategy in cloud-based music now that Apple has put its stake in the ground. But first, I wanted a little more context. “We think Apple taking this step is the best thing ever,” said Billmaier. “They’ve validated the cloud.” Dederer added, “They were smart enough to say, ‘We need this now.’”

At the same time, Melodeo says it’s far ahead of Lala in terms of the types of devices it covers and its level of technical experience in streaming digital media from the Web to different devices. As for other competitors, there’s Rhapsody from RealNetworks and Pandora, the radio-like recommendation service. The latter has lots of users and lots of funding, but wasn’t profitable as of last year. Dederer says Pandora’s song recommendations work in a “reductive” way: when you hear a new song, you either like it or hate it (and never hear it again). “We really want to crack this nut of music recommendation where it’s not reductive, it’s expansive,” he says. “It needs what we call ‘delightful randomness,’ because that’s what a real music discovery experience is.”

The company’s overarching goal is to combine song recommendations, radio, and friends’ playlists to provide the ultimate music experience for consumers. And do it all from the cloud. Melodeo’s patented technology essentially makes it efficient to stream songs from the Internet … Next Page »

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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