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Ruckus Networks, the Herndon, VA-based college music and digital media service, has retooled its music service, and decided to go free and ad-supported. Anyone with an e-mail address that ends in “.edu” will now have free access to 2.1 million music tracks, and does not require universities to participate (unlike the past). For an extra $15 a semester, students can also access 4,000 movies and TV shows. University faculty and alumni can also use the network, but filters will recognize them as non-students, and they will have to pay a monthly fee.
Previously, Ruckus was available as a subsidized subscription service in about 82 colleges and universities in U.S., but didn’t do as well, in line with what other competitors like CDigix, Napster and Rhapsody have also found out.
The company received $13.7 million in funding in summer last year and has raised a total of about $23 million in two rounds.
NYTimes: The four major record labels and several independent labels have agreed to license their music to Ruckus at lower rates than they charge other mass market music services. Ruckus uses Microsoft’s Windows media technology, so songs can be played only on a PC. For $4.99 a month, users can buy the right to transfer the songs to portable devices compatible with the Microsoft format, including those made by SanDisk and Creative. But the music will not play on Microsoft’s Zune player or iPod.