Embed This: MediaNet Digital Starts a Smart Integration

The web is increasingly an interconnected, widget-friendly, 2.0-ready environment.

Then again, most paid downloads ultimately happen through a central location – the iTunes Store – and destinations like MySpace Music wield a dominant position.  Against that grain, backend provider MediaNet Digital is pushing a totally decentralized, embedded concept called MN Open, according to details disclosed to Digital Music News late Wednesday.  A broader announcement is expected later today.

The idea is to allow music sites to easily and dynamically integrate artist information, downloads, and other media within a page – without requiring send-offs to an outside provider.  The overarching MN Open suite includes an API and various web components, depending on the level of complication and customization involved.

Already, the concept is in motion on iLike, which recently started offering paid MP3s within its artist pages.  That experience now keeps the user on the page, and ends by simply dropping the purchased MP3 into a local folder.

Other early adopters include MOG, Ultimate Guitar, and Intertech Media.  But much smaller sites and blogs can also jump on board.  “There are no setup costs, and they sign up on the website.  We don’t even talk to them,” MediaNet chief Alan McGlade told Digital Music News.  But MediaNet does take a cut of the download sale, depending on the specific relationship.  That is, after a roughly 70 percent payout to the label and publisher, a chunk that leaves MediaNet, its partner, and credit card providers fighting for the remainder.

That demands serious volume, something the paid download market has yet to achieve.  But potential partners may choose to skip the exhaustive P&L, simply because the integration offers quick content and upside potential.  In fact, the MediaNet Digital system is more than just a widget; instead, MN Open has the ability to smartly ‘read’ pages for artist names and songs, and drop relevant modules and even site-branded artist pages into the experience.  So, a page dedicated to Elton John could theoretically offer downloads, streaming audio, and a link to a bio and discography (as provided by AMG).

McGlade pointed to a totally different consumption pattern.  “It fundamentally changes what is possible for people,” McGlade continued.  Sounds exciting, though hardly a slam dunk.  Aside from a general resistance among consumers to pay for their music, those that are buying have shown incredible loyalty to the iTunes Store.  Just recently, Snocap followed a similarly decentralized strategy, but found it difficult to generate substantial sales of MP3s – even through its heavily-trafficked partner, MySpace.

Snocap folded, though perhaps a more sophisticated platform and a broader group of partners rejiggers the experiment.  According to McGlade, the key is to go where music fans are – wherever that may be.  “You have to offer things to people in context, you have to go where they go,” McGlade said.

Report by publisher Paul Resnikoff.