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Bertelsmann makes music with MyPlay

Group buys ailing music co. for $30 mil

Bertelsmann’s e-Commerce Group has snapped up ailing digital music locker technology company MyPlay for a reported $30 million, hot on the heels of a netco-buying spree by rival Vivendi Universal.

MyPlay will join the division’s other music properties, BeCG topper Andreas Schmidt said Wednesday, including music e-tailer CDNow and the BMG Music club, as part of its newly formed unit, BeMusic.

MyPlay, based in Redwood City, Calif., built a service that lets users store music collections in online “lockers,” which they can access through any PC connected to the Net. However, the company recently succumbed to the dot-com malaise, laying off about half of its employees.

“MyPlay shifted its business model in recent months to build a fully functional subscription management system,” said Schmidt. “I think that’s a great asset which they have ready to go.”

Exec added that MyPlay’s 31 remaining employees, including CEO Doug Camplejohn, would stay on, with the possibility of new hires in the future.

Lockers locked down

BeCG’s move follows a similar investment in locker technology made a week earlier by Vivendi-U. The French media giant bought music portal MP3.com, which operates the “My.MP3.com” locker service, for $372 million. Like BeCG, the conglom cited technology acquisition as a main reason for the deal.

All five majors have accelerated their online music efforts recently. In April Bertelsmann teamed with EMI and Warner to create MusicNet, a subscription-based distribution service. Days later, Sony and Universal revealed the details of a similar scheme, called Duet.