The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

Ruckus online music service shuts its doors

Ruckus, the online music service available to college students nationwide, has officially shut down.

Ruckus was made available to students at the University of Richmond during the spring of 2007 and offered more than two million files for download. It officially ceased operations on Feb. 6.

Information Services and other university officials said they hoped that bringing Ruckus to campus would decrease the number of illegally downloaded songs because students could stream music directly from the service.

"I was concerned students could get themselves in trouble with illegal music because it had greater circumstances than they understood," said Steve Bisese, vice president for student development. "People could be doing it unintentionally without realizing the repercussions."

Bisese said that after hearing from a representative of Ruckus, the service seemed appealing because it was low-risk and free for the school and the students. Ruckus had plans to expand beyond their song catalog and intended to include television shows and movies for streaming, which it eventually offered. But it required a $15 subscription fee Bisese said he believed ultimately led to the service's decline.

Ruckus was supported entirely by advertisements. Matt Dreyfuss, vice president of student services for the Richmond College Student Government Association, said he believed the buzz and novelty of Ruckus died down, and, consequently, so did Ruckus' advertising dollars.

Bisese agreed that Ruckus was in decline. Signs of the struggle were noticeable last year when the service was bought out by another at-risk company, TotalMusic.

Ruckus served students at more than 200 other institutions. Dreyfuss said that after users created a profile with a ".edu" e-mail address, they could go to Ruckus.com, create a profile, download the player and share music with other Ruckus users. The songs had a 30-day license -- renewed each time the student connected to the Internet. The service was also available to students off-campus. Graduates were required to pay $8.99 per month to maintain an alumni subscription.

Students often voiced concern that they could not transfer Ruckus music to their iPods.

Junior Behnaz Varamini said she initially believed the inability to transfer streamed songs to iPods or CDs would prevent Ruckus from really taking off. Still, Varamini said she had been a frequent user of the service since her freshman year.

"I liked Ruckus mostly because it was free," she said. "I don't illegally download music, and I really prefer not to buy a whole album before listening to it, so it was easy to pick and choose which songs I wanted and create a playlist."

Around 5 p.m. Feb. 6, the company posted a notice on its Web site saying the service was undergoing maintenance. By 5:30 p.m., a graphic replaced the Web site that stated: "Unfortunately the Ruckus service will no longer be provided. Thanks."

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Varamini found out about the discontinuation of Ruckus when she went to the Web site and saw the announcement. After confirming that friends who used the service had seen the same thing, she said she was disappointed.

Kathy Monday, vice president for Information Services, said that Ruckus' clients received no prior notification about the termination of the service. Monday was informed about the shutdown from one of her colleagues, and a SpiderByte was later sent to inform students who were unaware of the service's termination.

Ruckus has not provided further information about why it is no longer operating.

Members of RCSGA have already organized a committee with Bisese to consider other options for students.

Bisese said the university did not have money for student music services, so finding a free provider was a main goal, and he acknowledged that he was unsure whether any other options were available, or whether students needed such a service because of the emergence of Web sites such as Pandora, which streams music.

Contact staff writer Allie Artur at allie.artur@richmond.edu

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