To some observers, adding another online media player to an already over-crowded market of downloaded digital music might seem short-sighted, even irresponsible. So what's the big deal?
The secret to PlayJ isn't that it's free to consumers or features an inventory of more than 65,000 licensed titles--providing an additional revenue source for record companies.
Instead, it's the enduring 30-second ad window accompanying the music player and equalizer that will intrigue advertisers.
In short, the proprietary targeted ad platform cannot be deleted, clicked-through or scrolled away, according to company officials.
"We think we have the solution that the record industry will embrace, advertisers will embrace and consumers will embrace," said Alan Penchansky, spokesman for PlayJ.
Marc Seago agrees. The marketing manager for Ewonders.com, the Whippany, N.J.-based parent of consumer retailer PCwonders.com, retail reviewer RatingWonders.com and price comparison site PriceWonders.com, said the stickiness of the platform enabled him to maximize the content of the ad.
"It allows us to play a longer, more detailed message," he said.
With 30 programmers in Israel and another 40 employees in New York, PlayJ is initially targeting the music industry due to ongoing problems involving illegally downloaded content from the Internet.
In question are sites that take music, digitize it and allow it to be downloaded for free on MP3 players.
"We decided to go after the music industry because most music labels are facing piracy and devaluation of their content," said Yoram Greener, vice president of marketing for PlayJ. "In addition, [most] end users are having to pay for content."
By encrypting and licensing all its digitized content, PlayJ's future plans include offering software, books and other multi-media content for free on the site.
"Our main position in the market is to offer our business services to other general portals, giving them full download capabilities within their sites," said Greener.
The current soft-launch sponsorships include Listen.com, San Francisco; Launch.com, Santa Monica, Calif.; FortuneCity.com, New York; ShockWave.com, San Francisco; and Uproar.com, New York, among others.
Greener said PlayJ plans to advertise in music print magazines and launch a college campaign this fall as part of a multi-million-dollar ad campaign.
"We are currently conducting an agency search," he said.