Ruckus network was a "free music" network aimed at college students. Members could access DRM'd music for free, save for viewing advertisements (kind of like InternetDJ.com, without the DRM). The aim here was to sway college students away from downloading illegally pirated music. TotalMusic, a joint venture between Sony BMG and Universal Music Group, acquired Ruckus last year.
The service never really worked right, imho, due to the DRM. It only played nicely with Windows and my friends never got it to work on their MAC or iPods. Big problem there.
Says Jason Herskowitz, TotalMusic's Vice President of Product Management: "I only hope that someone else figures out how to crack this music-on-the-web nut in a way that is a win for everyone in the value chain. The problem is that to make a music service a win for everyone, then they all of the famished participants have to sit at the table - and be content to let all the others have a little bit to eat, even though they are still hungry themselves."
The issue here is convenience. The audience wants music when they want it and in a format that is open. The winner here will be the portal that the audience goes to, to grab the lastest releases from their favorite artists. That portal will be ad-based and a portion of the proceeds will go to the operation, and the rest will go to the artists and/or their representation. No transactions, no sales, no DRM, just sponsored distribution channels. Simple.