UMG-Sony Music JV Total Music Shuts Down

Two-year old Total Music has closed up shop, reports TechCrunch confirmed. The causes?, citing multiple “directly involved” sources, points to continued dominance of Apple’s iTunes store, the popularity of free ad-supported music streaming services and decreased ad support — plus the increasing pressure of the economic downturn. In the end, the partners decided they could use their resources better in other ways. Jason Herskowitz, VP of product management for Total Music, lamented in his blog that an online music service can’t be successful if the offerings always come at a cost to the consumer. “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 closure of the Universal Music Group and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music Entertainment JV follows just a week after its college-centric music service Ruckus announced its own shut down. The venture had acquired Ruckus last year to incorporate its subscription capabilities into its own offerings, but Total Music never got around to doing so.

Total Music began with the aim of encouraging device manufacturers and service providers to bundle the cost of a music subscription service into the cost of their products — a business model some music execs championed at our recent EconMusic conference, and one that *Nokia* utilizes via its Comes With Music service on certain handsets. Its troubles began last year when the Department of Justice probed into the legality of the competitors joining together on the venture; however, the inquiry reportedly played no role in Total Music’s closure.