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May 3, 2006

Napster makes bold move while iTunes gets it wrong

Posted 4222 days ago on May 3, 2006

The press is reporting how 99c fixed pricing is a victory for Steve Jobs, while Napster has announced free music for up to five connected plays of any song in its catalog.

I reckon the 99c thing is a victory for iTunes competitors. It makes no sense. With music, all the costs are up-front. Once you have created the first master copy, further copies cost pretty much nothing. This is especially so with a download, but even CDs cost very little, otherwise they wouldn't fall out of newspapapers every weekend, as they do here in the UK.

It follows that 99c is far too much for a back number. I may not be the best person to comment, because I reckon iTunes is overpriced at almost any price (because of its lossy compression and lock-in DRM), but 99c is salt in the wound.

What people see as a consumer victory is that 99c is cheap for a brand new song. Personally I don't see why the record companies should not charge more if they can. But the real issue is about how Apple works with its content partners. I doubt it will pay, long-term, for Apple to ignore their reasonable concerns.

Napster, on the other hand, is giving music away. Any of 2 million songs (not all songs are covered) up to five times, free. Pay if you want to download or copy to a device. I'll sign up for this one as soon as it comes to the UK. Is it giving too much away? Possibly, since any song that plays can be copied, but then again piracy is so easy with audio files that the issue is almost more about encouraging honesty than preventing piracy. I'm not clear yet about the quality issue - personally I'd like to see lossless FLAC files for purchasers. Otherwise - I'll use Napster to trial music, then go out and buy the CD.

This is going to raise Napster's profile substantially.


Re: Napster makes bold move while iTunes gets it wrong

Posted 4221 days ago by Rob... • • wwwReply

The key thing about the Apple "victory" was keeping premium songs at 99c for iTunes. If record companies had been able to put up the prices for new songs, do you seriously believe that the back catalogue would have been available at 50c ?!

I can't see how Napster's DRM is any better than iTunes? I think that banging the iTunes DRM drum is a bit pointless at the moment, as I don't see any way as a napster subscriber to be able to play that music anywhere I want either.

Also, I don't see that napster's format is any less lossy than iTunes. I agree that online music is a non-starter for me personally until it's available as lossless.

I don't use any on-line music store and have no intention of doing so at the moment; buying on CD and burning is better and cheaper at the moment.


Re: Napster makes bold move while iTunes gets it wrong

Posted 4221 days ago by Tim Anderson • • • Reply

Apple's DRM is worse because the company won't license it to most third-parties.

I do "seriously believe" some tracks would be cheaper if Apple didn't insist on fixed pricing. That's because the record companies would make more money that way.

Agreed about the lossy compression.


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