It's been a roller-coaster month for Project Playlist, a popular local start-up that lets users create playlists of songs scattered around the Internet. Last week, the company's service was booted from MySpace, cutting it off from much of its clientele. On Monday, it announced its first deal with a major record company, Sony BMG. And on Tuesday, its playlist-building application was expelled from Facebook. This one-step-forward, two-steps-back routine shows how hard it continues to be for the music industry and entrepreneurs to adapt to a world in which recordings proliferate online, beyond the copyright owners' control.
Project Playlist is one of a growing number of online services that enable people to find, arrange and play the songs available (legally or otherwise) on the Net. Because they don't store songs themselves, several of these services have argued that they don't need to obtain licenses from or pay royalties to the labels. Naturally, the major record companies disagree. Two popular playlisting sites with no visible means of support -- Muxtape and Mixwit -- folded rather than fight or strike deals. Project Playlist, which sells advertising and has raised more than $20 million from venture capital firms, was sued by Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and EMI Music in April. Sony BMG held its fire, and eventually agreed to grant a license.