Ruckus college music service closes its digital doors for good

On Feb. 8, Ruckus, once a popular means of downloading music legally, shut down due to insufficient ad revenue.

Ruckus, the first downloading service intended specifically for universities, only required users to login with a ".edu" e-mail address in order to gain access to the vaults containing thousands of songs. The Web site never charged students and the process was entirely virus-free.

One of the benefits of using Ruckus was its legality but students' foremost complaint was that the service protected their songs with DRM (Digital Rights Management) and prevented them from exporting music to an iPod or burning it onto a CD. Despite this limitation, Ruckus was widely used by students and in turn, decreased illegal downloading on college campuses.

Sophomore Ian Tuttle said that he feels that the program's shortcoming outweighed the its usefulness.

"I found it pointless to spend my time downloading music and organizing playlists that I couldn't listen to on my iPod, which is where I listen to most of my music," he said. Tuttle said he chooses to purchase and borrow CDs instead and has not "touched the Ruckus subscription since freshman year."

Not all students said they felt the same way.

Sophomore Chris DiBeradino, a Ruckus user, said "[The service was] convenient for people like me, who always listen to music while on the computer."

In 2005, Ruckus was brought to Geneseo on a subscription basis. For access to almost one million songs and a variety of movies, students were required to pay a small fee.

When Ruckus switched to ad-based revenue in 2007 their services became free but ceased to be available to Macintosh users due to the program's use of Windows Media. Despite the loss of its Mac following, Ruckus' shift to free, ad-based service did increase its popularity with students.

Now that Ruckus has closed, students like DiBeradino have to completely rebuild the playlists they had stored under their accounts. While DiBeradino finds Ruckus' shutdown "upsetting," he said he has found alternative sources of music on the Internet.

Web sites such as Pandora and offer an alternative, but function differently. These sites allow the user to choose artists or songs they like and build playlists, or "stations," around similar musicians or genres.

DiBeradino has become a frequent user of Pandora since the shutdown of Ruckus. "The Web site is great," he said. "It allows me to listen to a lot of artists I've never heard - a lot of whom I'm becoming a fan of."

While many college students preferred Ruckus, other options exist. Even Total Music, the owner of Ruckus, is currently creating another music service called Tune Post.

Freshman Patricia Horan, a brief user of Ruckus, said she is optimistic that Total Music or a different company will create a new, similar program.

"The idea of Ruckus being made specifically for college students was too good to be done for good," she said. "I enjoyed my short-lived use of Ruckus and am sure something like it will be released in the future."