Yahoo! and Stanford partner to offer online music to students

Stanford students soon will have the opportunity to listen free of charge to more than 1 million songs on Yahoo! Music Unlimited.

Stanford is working with Yahoo! and an anonymous donor on a pilot program that gives undergraduate and graduate students free subscriptions to the recently established online music service. Scheduled to launch on Oct. 18, the pilot is expected to last about a year. If it is successful, students who signed up for it will automatically receive reduced-rate subscriptions to the music service beginning Oct. 1, 2006 (unless they choose to cancel their subscriptions).

"We wanted to give our students the chance to try something new and fun since a large majority of them listen to music on a daily basis," said Susan Weinstein, university director of business development. "The scales were tipped in favor of Yahoo! when the students on our evaluation committee, who test drove a number of different services, preferred the look and features of Yahoo! Music Unlimited."

The deal marks the first time Yahoo! has partnered with an institution or university to offer its music service. Similar partnerships have been forged between different music services and universities.

The Yahoo! service allows subscribers to play and download music from a catalog of more than 1 million songs. It also enables subscribers to listen to commercial-free Internet radio stations; share music with other subscribers by using Yahoo! Messenger; transfer as many tracks as they want onto compatible portable devices; import music from compact discs; and create play lists—all for free. However, to buy a song, which allows students to keep it after their Yahoo! subscription ends, costs 79 cents, reduced from the 99-cent non-subscription rate.

"We are thrilled to offer Yahoo! Music Unlimited to the students of Stanford University to provide them with an enriched digital music experience," said Dave Goldberg, vice president and general manager of Yahoo! Music. "We look at this as a great opportunity to spread the word on the extensive benefits of subscription music to true music and technology fans."

Yahoo! Music Unlimited works only on Microsoft Windows operating systems. Windows 2000 and Windows XP are the minimum system requirements. Windows XP is required in order to download songs from a PC to a compatible MP3 device. (To see a list of such devices, visit the web at http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/music/yme/portable/portable-02.html). The Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscription service is not compatible with Apple computers or iPods.

A survey last year by Residential Computing found that, among those who responded, 78 percent of undergraduate students and 87 percent of graduate students reported owning Windows-compatible computers.

Stanford students and faculty with Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscriptions who purchase a Zen Micro portable audio player at the Stanford Bookstore are eligible for a $50 mail-in rebate while the offer lasts. Featuring 5 gigabytes of capacity to carry up to 2,500 songs (based upon 4-minute songs in WMA format encoded at 64kbps), the award-winning Zen Micro comes in 10 colors. It also features voice-recording capabilities and can synchronize calendars and "to do" lists with Microsoft Outlook.

In recent years, the recording industry has warned some Stanford-network users about their file-sharing activities. However, Weinstein maintains that putting a stop to illegal file sharing is not the main goal of the pilot program.

"Of course we hope that students will use this robust, easy-to-use alternative to illegal file sharing, but we also think it is just a great service, giving students access to a compelling music experience," she said.

To sign up for the service, students should visit the web at http://yahoomusic.stanford.edu on or after Oct. 18, where they will be directed through the enrollment process. Subscribers will be required to supply a credit card number, which will not be charged unless students continue their subscriptions after the free pilot or purchases a burnable download (79 cents).

Upon graduation, students will be charged the regular rate for the service, which today is $6.99 per month or $59.88 per year.

To evaluate the benefits of offering a music service to students, the university assembled a team representing a broad cross section of the campus community, Weinstein said. It included Chris Lin, former chair of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Undergraduate Senate; Diana Gentry, an undergraduate student who also serves as a resident computer coordinator; Mike Woodward, an undergraduate; Nanci Howe, associate dean of students and director of student activities; Joshua Schiller, associate director of Residential Education Central Operations; Bruce Vincent, a senior technology strategist with Information Technology Systems and Services; Richard Holeton, information systems project manager for Residential Computing; Sindy Lee, a business software developer for Residential Computing; Lauren Schoenthaler, senior counsel in the University Office of the General Counsel; and Weinstein.

In addition, ASSU President Melanie Kannokada and Jennifer Ly, resident computer coordinator manager, have been key members of the implementation team, Weinstein said.