Napster subscription model and its discontents
After reading a lot about Napster to go and even writing some of it myself, some people have the impression I am against the subscription model. Not so. I am certainly against Microsoft using illegal tying in order to extend its operating system monopoly to the digital music market (if there is such a thing). I am against to not being allowed to be a client because of the computer I use (read that Digital Music players? I want to buy your exclusives, I want to enjoy what you are offering, I am willing to pay you, but I am unwilling to change my computer of choice. Go and tell Microsoft about this). But I actually think the subscription model will succeed, we are just not there yet.
The first reason we are not there is because Napster model is unreal and stupid. If they really believe in their subscription model, they would charge less for downloads if you are subscribed. That would be an excellent deal for consumers. Pay 15$ a month access all the music in Napster, even carry it in your Mp3 player, if you really like one buy it for... 99 cents? nonsense! 50 cents or less will be nice.
The second reason is ignorance of the iPod, I have no idea why someone at Microsoft hasn't approach Apple to say: How much to make the iPod Windows Media Compatible? There must be a price Microsoft is willing to pay and Apple to take. Without the iPod the portability is bogus for exactly the same reason a software company ignoring Windows is a small potatoes player.
The final reason, though, is that Napster advertisement is lying and dishonest and people will find out. Our music comes from diverse sources, and that won't change if you subscribe to Napster. Most people will still like to burn some CDs and buy CDs that are not on Napster catalog, or buy albums or exclusive tracks in other stores. If you buy albums the songs get much cheaper. For example, I have 837 songs from the iTunes Music Store, but they didn't cost 837$, how much they cost? Try less than 350$, that's much less than 50 cents a song. How come? Well, I bought The Complete U2 (447 songs for 100$ an iTunes exclusive that Napster subscription members will not get), I have about 100 songs that iTunes has given away for free. And I have bought a lot of albums. For example, the latest 3 Doors Down album (another iTunes exclusive, being a Napster subscriber is getting very expensive) I bought today for 10$ has 15 songs, making it about 70 cents per song.
But this does not mean all subscription services will fail. I think there are two that have a chance of really making a paradigm shift in the digital music world. The first is almost like Napster, just cheaper to buy songs to burn on a CD. That's the deal, 15$ a month for all the songs you can eat, 40 cents extra if you want to burn one, with exclusive deals and albums making it a lot cheaper. The second is a completely different idea. All the songs streamed to your mobile phone anywhere you are connected. This needs a fast network, it will help if the songs can be kept in the phone memory (for cases when the network is inaccessible and keeping the songs you like all the time at your disposal). We are far from this model but not that far. The key point of this model is the instant availability. You just found out your favorite group came out with a new record, maybe through a friend or through an SMS in your mobile, you get the songs and start listening immediately. In this case it is not so important that you can't burn a CD, you are getting it now, not next time you are connected. I've always thought this is the main reason people pirate music and movies and software. It is not about the right price, is about having it right now...
5:27:30 PM Google It!