Yahoo’s artist pages: When big media decides to focus on presentation, not content

Over the years Yahoo has invested a lot in making its music section work. First it bought Launch in 2001 for $12 million and turned that into its radio player. Then in 2004 it bought MusicMatch for $160 million with hopes of turning its software into the world’s default music player. And it invested untold millions in an abandoned attempt to sell music downloads and subscriptions to compete with iTunes, Rhapsody, and the rest of the crowded market.

As evidenced in my recent interview with North America audience senior VP Jeff Dossett, Yahoo has accepted that none of those efforts bore much fruit and is taking a partnership approach to its music site — let others supply the content and provide a great format to present it.

That will be on full display tomorrow when Yahoo Music launches artist pages. According to numerous reports, if you click on “Beyonce” or “Taylor Swift,” you won’t see a page full of Yahoo content. Instead, there will be modules with content from Rhapsody, Last.FM, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, and more, making it easy for users to get download links, concert information, news, song streaming, and more. Yahoo doesn’t have to do anything but make it look pretty.

Like most media companies, Yahoo has to pick the areas where it’s going to invest in original content and where it’s going to use the power of the Web, especially the ability to embed other folks’ content, to simply be a hub. Yahoo artist pages will apparently be a prime example of how the latter will work.

(Yahoo is apparently in the midst of making the shift, since if you click on any artist’s name on the site right now, you get a “Bad Request” notice.”)

[Artist pages screenshot from CNET News]

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