"The number you just called is not in use. Thank you."
Ringing the Soundbuzz headquarters hotline got us nowhere, confirming that its doors have been shuttered in preparation for its pending closure. On the Soundbuzz site, a notice tells readers that the music downloads site will closing down on July 15, 2009.
I may not be a regular user of its online store, but I first came across Soundbuzz when a coupon for a couple of free song downloads fell out as I was unboxing my 128MB Creative Muvo TX player way back then. Yup, the online store has around that long, and news of its upcoming closure evoked sweet nostalgia and that song Video Killed the Radio Star, which describes a singer whose career is cut short by TV.
Founded in 1999, the company was one of the first online music stores in Singapore legalizing music downloads. In the face of rampant piracy, this was already a struggle for the site. However, keeping relevant became increasingly difficult as mobile phone giants like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, even Apple started to launch their own music download stores or partner with telcos for one.
Motorola, which bought Soundbuzz in 2008, was to have been its trump card. However, even the US company wasn't able to help itself when its mobile phone and Motomusic business started to falter in the face of aggressive competition and the current downturn. Motorola had acquired Soundbuzz originally to expand its MotoMusic service out of China and into the rest of Asia. Before its closure announcement, Soundbuzz operated in the Southeast Asia region, Australia, Hong Kong, India and China.
The Singapore company's history is far from whimsical. In 2000, Soundbuzz formed a partnership with Lycos Asia to provide the portal with downloadable digital music. It also attracted Creative which took a 18 percent stake in the company. Creative went on to launch the Soundbuzz Music Video Store in 2005, with partners that included Indiatimes, Bharti/Airtel and TATA-VSNL in India, Telstra BigPond, Optus Zoo, and Woolworths Group in Australia, and SingTel and M1 in Singapore.
It's an ironic end for a company that held its own ground when it came out selling legit music in 1999, a year when services such as Kazaa and Napster were famous for providing free music and survived the dotcom bust in 2001.
As a final service to its customers, Soundbuzz advises its customers to back up their songs into an audio CD before it shuts down for good on July 15.
What can we say but so long, Soundbuzz, and thanks for all the... music.
Soundbuzz, one of the first online music sources in Singapore, is officially shutting its store comeJuly 15, even as more online music stores are opening with a wave of optimism surrounding music downloads. In a note to subscribers last Friday, as well as on its website, the company said everything will be taken down after July 15 midnight, marking a sorry end to a bright dot.com poster boy of yesteryear. The closure will come just 18 months after Motorola said it was acquiring the Singapore-based Soundbuzz, in a bid to boost its MotoMusic service and sell its music-enabled phones. The service had been launched in India in June 2008,...