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Universal to Offer Music for Free 356

Posted by Zonk
from the not-free-as-in-anything dept.
wild_berry writes "The BBC reports that Universal Music has signed a deal to make its music available for a free and legally-licensed download. Available from a new music site called SpiralFrog, the deal will allow users in the USA and Canada to listen to Universal's music, which Reuters' news site reveals is paid for by targeted advertising, but no details of possible community or playlist sharing features of the SpiralFrog service. Is the immunity from litigation enough to make up for having targeted advertising on each page and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"
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Universal to Offer Music for Free

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  • Well, that's good news.

    Now if only I were a fan of some of Universal's Artists [wikipedia.org].

    Guess I'll have to wait and see if the big companies follow suit.
    • by 2.7182 (819680)
      Maybe they will offer "Double Dutch Bus" for free ! (Remember that debacle on Ebay ?)
    • "The big companies"? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Artifice_Eternity (306661) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:04AM (#15999849) Homepage
      RTFA, please. At least the first sentence:

      Universal Music, the world's largest music company, has agreed to back a new venture that will allow consumers to download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.

      This is a big deal.
      • by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:30AM (#16000076) Homepage Journal
        But what if you use AdBlock or a hosts file to block advertisers sites? They won't be getting any money then, will they?


        But then I guess that's a win-win situation. People can now, finally, get something for nothing AND stick it to the music companies by not having to see/watch ads to get the product.

        The only question is, and the article is short on this matter, will people be able to take the song and put it in any format they want for THEIR use?

        This article [redherring.com] does say that DRM will be incorporated into the songs to try and prevent sharing of the music but that still doesn't answer the question. The article also talks about how the ads might be inserted but nothing definite.

      • by russ1337 (938915) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:31AM (#16000083)
        download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.
        What the article fails to mention is the adverising is the artists singing about a vendors product.....

        I cant wait for Elton Johns new single : "Lucy in the sky with diamonds from Jarad"........ [jared.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by neonprimetime (528653)
      Here is a list of the universal artists that were from the wiki article, some of them seem to be half way decent, so i'm not sure what the parent is talking about :-)

      2slabz (RebelRock/Universal) 3 Doors Down (Republic/Universal) 10 Years 98 Degrees* Aaliyah (Blackground/Universal) Acroma Afroman Akon Ali & Gipp Ashley Parker Angel (Blackground/Universal) The Bangkok 5 (Execution Style/Universal) David Banner Baby AKA Birdman (Cash Money/Universal) Baby Bash Bee Gees Big Tuck Big Tymers (Cash Money/Uni
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)


      Here's a more complete list [universalmusicgroup.com] of Universal Music's artists.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:12AM (#15999915) Homepage Journal
      You don't like Godsmack? 3 Doors Down?

      And Elton John is arguably one of the most popular recording artists ever.

      Man, what do you listen to? Barry Manilow?
      • I don't really care 3 Doors Down or Godsmack. Elton John is ok, his album Honky Tonk Chatau is in my collection. He used to write some amazing bluesy Rock and Roll that actually felt like music. His later crap is ... well ... crap in my opinion.

        If you want to know who I listen to, it's a very wide variety but I must confess I'm more prone to listen to local bands in the states, UK or Canada. Bands like The Unicorns (now Islands), Spoon, Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzales, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Apo
    • by justkarl (775856)
      Now if only I were a fan of some of Universal's Artists.

      Ick. That must be why they're free.
  • Enough ads! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cybert4 (994278) * on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:00AM (#15999819)
    I've tried to take a stand against ads myself. I'll subscribe to whatever I need, as long as I don't see ads. The way I see it, subscribing to slashdot (for example) puts money towards content and away from useless ad people. The only ads I want to see are when I do a google search. That's it! I'd rather subscribe (or even better, donate). I'm sick of the ad culuture, and it's got to stop. I won't be using this free music source because I already subscribed to Urge (plays for sure). At least more of that money is going to artists. With this, you have all sorts of ad brokers taking a cut.
    • by m0rph3us0 (549631)
      That's the great thing about capitalism. If you don't like it you can always walk with your wallet. No one said Universal is going to get rid of CDs. Don't like ads on TV? Buy the season DVD.

      Incase you haven't noticed not a lot of money goes to the artist. If artists want more money they just need to switch labels / start their own. Whats that getting a bad deal from indie labels? Well, then what hte records companies are offering artists is the BEST deal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobotRunAmok (595286)
      The way I see it, subscribing to slashdot (for example) puts money towards content and away from useless ad people.

      And the money the "useless ad people" give to slashdot and other sites in exchange for page space, what does that go towards, spoons?

      Chew on this: the "subscription only" model is the elite and priveleged track. Ad-sponsored sites allow anyone with web access, even from a public terminal, to be "empowered." Think of all of Negroponte's poor, starving 100-dollar laptop children; don't they de
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:00AM (#15999822)
    So when they realize we are able to copy the music, what happens?
  • Is it enough? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GundamFan (848341) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:00AM (#15999825)
    Yes.

    Ads are only a minor issue, I have seen ads all my life I know how to ignore them.

    The proponets of free content will whine... but this way the record company gets what they want (money) and the consumer gets free (of cost) music.

    Nothing ever has been truely free, if you aren't buying (or stealing) something someone else is paying to put it in your hands for there own reasons. That is the way the world has worked for a long time.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      but this way the record company gets what they want (money)

      Ad-supported websites haven't exactly been raking in the dough.

      and the consumer gets free (of cost) music.

      ...that they aren't allowed to do ANYTHING with.

      With TV and radio stations spending 1/3rd of their airtime on commercials, it's questionable if people will put up with the number of ads the RIAA is going to need to fund this idea.

      The idea has potential, but I'm not exactly optomistic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwilliamson (672411)
      The European model of forcing you to watch ads will probably be used. People WILL view the ad when it contains strong sexual innuendo, or at the very least, BOOBIES!
    • Most of us listen to the radio at least sometimes, and ads have always been a natural part of that. I use Pandora, which I see as basically analogous to a radio station, but with more ability to customize, plus all the ads being visual, so no commercial interruptions to the audio (so far).

      Am I that odd for not finding the mere presence of ads all that objectionable? Sure, I'll bail on a service or site if the advertising it carries is intrusive, distracting or uses aggressive & coercive methods to gain
    • Hilarious. A record company finally offers free downloads, and what responses do we see on /.?

      "Horrors! I won't sit thru ADS to get free music!"
      "It's encumbered with DRM! Help, I'm being repressed!"
      "Bah -- the artist selection sucks!"

      Ever heard the saying, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"?
  • Cost isn't the main issue I have with digital music. Freedom is the main issue.

    I want to be able to play the music that I purchase on whatever device I choose. Period.

    If I can't do that, then I won't participate in the service.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Duds (100634)
      If it's a free service you haven't purchased anything.

      I suspect I'll leap on board this, it might even inspire me to go get the odd CD. I'm with you though, as soon as they expect money, I expect freedom.
    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:13AM (#15999925) Journal
      I'd like to violate every agreement I make for short-term benefit too, but I don't justify such desires on grounds of "freedom".

      They produce the music so they can make a profit. I'm sure it would be great if everyone worked for free, but they don't.

      The produce it knowing that they can sell it with certain conditions attached. Then they sell it with those conditions attached. Then people start to claim their "freedom" is being violated, and that they have the right to unilaterally violate those conditions.

      Sure, music companies "should" just "trust" people not to give it away to everyone, really, they can't.

      So what should they do? Just not make music for profit? Or, you accept that the artist "deserves" a cut proportional to listeners, but that the "record companies" take "too much". Do you know how difficult, and what a crapshoot it is, to promote an artist?

      I'm not trying to troll. What should an artist and record company do?
      • by DerGeist (956018)
        I was writing my comment as you were writing yours. Brilliantly put, yours blew mine out of the water. :-)

        I'd like to propose that the issue is the people desire music as a public good, like a state park. It currently has the characteristics necessary: non-excludable, and non-rival (you can't exclude others from enjoying it by your consumption and your consumption does not decrease the overall amount available).

        The problem is, labels and artists are accustomed to making absurd amounts of money since America

      • by supabeast! (84658)
        "So what should they do? Just not make music for profit? Or, you accept that the artist "deserves" a cut proportional to listeners, but that the "record companies" take "too much". Do you know how difficult, and what a crapshoot it is, to promote an artist?"

        Honestly, I just don't give a damn about artists getting screwed over by the major labels. Those labels have one business model - try to sell as many copies of an album as possible, and their contracted "artists" are usually just hoping to hit the jackpo
      • The buggy^H^H^H^H^Hrecord companies should close down, liquidate their assets before it's all blown on futile attempts to control digital information. The artists should get into their vans, tour to promote themselves and sell downloads online at 10c a pop.

        Whether you believe it's right or wrong is irrelevant, the economic reality is that as the supply of something increases, the value of it drops and digital information being trivially copyable has an infinite supply. The value of digital information (any
        • So, it should be impossible for anyone to actually make money from producing this content that is then distributed for near-zero cost?
          • Sorry, them's the breaks, the record companies lost the instant they started producing digital information. Forget "should" and right or wrong, it's pure economics. It's like complaining about gravity or the speed of light.

            Digital information is trivially copyable, that's a simple statement of fact. All it takes is a single copy to be distributed exponentially. The cost or value of the bit of digital information essentially works out at zero. Copyrights, laws, even digital rights management systems don't ch
            • Sorry, them's the breaks, the record companies lost the instant they started producing digital information.

              Who's focusing on record companies? Your comment applies just as well to book-writers, programmers, etc etc etc.

              Forget "should" and right or wrong, it's pure economics. It's like complaining about gravity or the speed of light.

              Well...no. Concerns about what outcomes are acceptable, combined with knowledge of economics, is what you need in order to know what rules you ar comfortable with.

              Digital info
      • by crabpeople (720852) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @01:00PM (#16000750) Journal
        Nice thinking inside the box there..
        Here is what they should do
        1) make all art copyrights last 7 years.
        2) release all music /film / etc from greater than 7 years ago into public domain.

        The drug companies dont seem to have a problem making billions of dollars on 7 year expiring patents.

        This is a short term solution. Ideally, we would live in a world where we dont need to preserve artificial scarcity but we will probably have to wait for nano forges for that. Humans expressing themselves through art will not end because no one pays for it. Not to claim art, but these comments here are proof of that. No one is paying me to write on this fourm and yet I do it anyways. An artist needs to create as a slashdot poster needs to comment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerGeist (956018)
      Let me start by saying I have no issue with the preceding comment, however that same "demanding idealist" attitude is often echoed by those who are, quite simply, addicted to free content and use their perceived moralism as justification for continuing their actions.

      Trust me when I say I am no fan of the RIAA's tactics regarding their customers, but at some point they need to make money. If you're willing to buy a DRM-free CD that is rippable, burnable and whatnot and don't mind paying $9.99(on sale)-$13.99

    • I agree. And I find it pretty sad I've had to scroll down half way through the first page to find someone who isn't posting "OMG!!!1! Free Music! Finally teh RIAA si giving us what we want!"

      I am not a freeloader. I do not use Kazaa and every actual freeloader (as opposed to occasional innocent who's been caught up in the thing) who's paying $3,500 to the RIAA right now to settle lawsuit is getting what they deserve, as far as I'm concerned. I want to donate towards the costs of producing music. I'm happy

  • Who says that users will not be able to put the music on their portable media players or burn the tracks to CD?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Who says that users will not be able to put the music on their portable media players or burn the tracks to CD?

      The submitter, wild_berry, who, surprise surprise, is yet another Slashdot submitter who fails to understand the articles cited in his own submission. Neither of the articles cited contain any mention of such a restriction.
      • Re:Says Who? (Score:4, Informative)

        by phritz (623753) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:02PM (#16000330)
        The submitter is sort of right - it looks like the device you transfer it to will need explicit support for the DRM. From the New York Times [nytimes.com]:
        Customers will be able to download an unlimited number of Universal songs to their computer and one other device. They will not be able to transfer those songs onto a compact disc, and they must visit the site at least once a month to maintain access to their music.
  • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:02AM (#15999838)
    What they are really saying is that they will let you try listening to their music without paying for it first. If you want to do anything with it, you have to pay.

    Which isn't a bad idea, acutally...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Qzukk (229616)
      Which isn't a bad idea, acutally...

      I agree, I'd definately look into using this to try out some new bands by listening to a few songs before I decide to buy their cds which I can do whatever I want with.

      Now the question is, how much of my identity do I have to hand over to these people for their inevitable laptop theft so that they can target their ads, and are they going to let me listen to whole albums, or just the best songs that get heavy rotation on the radio anyway?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ozbird (127571)
        ... or you could use BitTorrent.

        My recent music purchases (30+ CDs, 5 music DVDs and several t-shirts) have been entirely due to bands I've discovered by trying the albums via BT or sample tracks on their websites. (My brother has bought hundreds of CDs the same way; I'm more picky about my music.)

        The sample excerpts on Amazon etc. don't cut it - many bands who sounded interesting from samples turned out to be like most Hollywood movies: the trailer was the only good bit. I watch movies and listen to
    • I completely agree. I really only pirate music anymore to see if it's worth spending money on, and even that I don't do much because I find the downfalls of pirating to not really be worth it ( difficulty to find, risk of viruses,etc ). iTunes 30s snippits really isn't enough.
  • Ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnlittledotorg (858326) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:03AM (#15999839) Homepage
    I wonder how long it will take them to work the ads into the audio files themselves. 3 minutes of music sandwiched between 2 30 second commercials is probably inevitable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Already exists. Flip the scaling of ads to music around, and you have what is commonly known as "FM Radio"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
      What do you think pop music is? Like Saturday morning cartoons used to be (transformers I am looking at you), Pop music is the ad so you'll go buy the band's CD / concert ticket / merchandise.

      Music used to be about expressing some emotion, a message, or telling a story. Now it's all about "we're so cool go buy our CD."
      • by soupdevil (587476)
        You're close, but it's more inclusive than that. Pop music is the ad for the lifestyle, which includes fashion, electronics, media, etc. Why do you think so many pop artists have a clothing line?
    • Plenty of streaming radio networks do this. A couple minutes of ads to listen to an hour or so of music. Of course, if you pay to subscribe, the ads disappear...
  • DRM encumbered? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kcbrown (7426)

    TFA doesn't say anything about whether or not the music in question is DRM-encumbered. I see no reason at all to believe that it won't be.

    So while the music may be free as in beer, it'll likely only be free in the most limited sense of the word.

    Thanks, but I'll pass.

    • Re:DRM encumbered? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:14AM (#15999941)

      So while the music may be free as in beer, it'll likely only be free in the most limited sense of the word. Thanks, but I'll pass.

      You don't watch TV or listen to the radio then? I do: they're free, and they're supported by adds. But it doesn't give me the option to view or listen to the program at any time I want. So sometimes I buy DVDs or CDs.

      The proposed service has more freedom than radio, if we disregard DRM for the moment, so what's the big deal?

      Plus, if you're one of UMG's artists, you can download your own song twice a day for a source of extra income!

    • by hweimer (709734)
      TFA doesn't say anything about whether or not the music in question is DRM-encumbered. I see no reason at all to believe that it won't be.

      You're absolutely right. From Yahoo News [yahoo.com]:

      Digital rights management technology is built-in to all audio and video content

      I don't want DRM even if it's free-as-in-beer, but I'd happily pay for non-DRM music even if it costs more than $0.99.

    • by gorbachev (512743)
      "TFA doesn't say anything about whether or not the music in question is DRM-encumbered. I see no reason at all to believe that it won't be."

      My guess is that it'll be some sort of an audio stream embedded in a Flash app, just like YouTube or Google Video.
  • finally. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jnf (846084) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:09AM (#15999894)
    I've wondered how long it would be before a consultant somewhere said, 'you know, we should adapt or we risk dying', and this is what it is, finally a company with a financial interest in the matter is sitting down and trying to hash out an idea of how to make the new medium work for them.

    I will probably go watch some ands and not hear the music (as it will probably require windows) just to show support for a company that is taking some initiative. I hope it makes them billions of dollars and all the other companies sit and wonder why they didn't think of it.
  • Is it just me, or does anyone else think that this is the same doomed business model of the dot-com bubble?

    Does Universal actually expect to make money off this, or is this a "straw man" venture designed to fail in order to show shareholders and politicians that strict DRM is necessary to guarantee profitability?
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:31AM (#16000089) Homepage Journal
      This is an attempt to bring the old business model of terrestrial radio to the Internet. It's no different than listening to a commercial radio station's Internet stream, apart from the lack of cheesy locally-produced ads for Slappy's Bait Shop and Ice Cream Stand.

      For those unfamiliar with Terrestrial Radio, it's that thing with all the monopolies that is being pummeled by the more interesting stuff on Internet Radio and Satellite Radio.
      • I'd be shocked if you could produce one piece of evidence that Internet and Satellite radio are "pummeling" terrestrial radio. Last I checked there were only about 10 million total satellite subscribers (XM and Sirius) and when the "King of All Media", Howard Stern left for Sirius, he took a whopping 1/4 of his audience with him.
  • Is the immunity from litigation enough to make up for having targeted advertising on each page and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"

    As if you even needed immunity from litigation, or you had some intrinsic right to this music. The only people that need immunity from litigation are those breaking the law

    Here's a content producer. They want to GIVE you their content for free online, in a distribution model simliar to one that most of slashdot has been having wet dreams about since Napster 1.0 was released. Shit know when you got it good and stop your bitchin lol!

    If someone wants to give me something for free I'm not going to whine just because they want me to do a certain thing with it - free restricted music is better than no music at all...
  • Both articles are a little scarce with exactly what you can do with the music.

    Is it like Yahoo's service, where you can "download" the song and play it whenever you like, but you can't burn it to a CD? And if you want to move it to an external drive, you have to pay extra?

    Or will this be a complete file that can be downloaded to my PC and media-shifted? (preferrably CD-burnable, and I'm sure someone will figure out how to get around whatever DRM they put on it).
    • by Alarash (746254)
      Yeah, I'm wondering about that too. As I see it, we have these options:
      • Music is not downloadable, but streamed. You make your playlist online and listen to it from your browser (supposely with a crappy player IE-only compatible). Possible.
      • Music is downloadable, DRM'd, and you need to wait a while in front of ads in order to download. Hopefuly you can "pack" them in a RAR (or more likely ZIP..) file so you don't spend more time waiting than downloading. Unlikely
      • Music is downloadable in a proprietary form
  • by Have Blue (616)
    My knee-jerk reaction was "Of course not", but this actually makes sense. At least now the "I only pirate to decide whether to buy it" crowd has no excuse any more.
    • At least now the "I only pirate to decide whether to buy it" crowd has no excuse any more.
      They'll just switch to "I have to hear it on my MP3 player to decide whether I like it enough to buy it." Or, how about, "They're giving the music away for free, so I should be able to download another copy and use it any way I want?" And, of course, don't forget "targetted advertising is violating my privacy rights, so I'm entitled to do whatever I want with their products."
  • "...not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"
     
    Oh yeah? Watch me!
  • I can finally download Lindsay Lohan's albums instead of being THAT guy who buys them at the store. Now, if we could only get Hanson to sign with Universal the circle would be complete.
  • "...and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player"

    I just took a look over @ VegasBigBoard, & the odds of that remaining a true statement for more than one month are level; less than one month is holding at 16:1; less than one week just moved up from 4:1 to 6 1/2.

    I considered waiting and coming in when one week hit double-digits, but decided on a hedge and dropped some now, just to make it entertaining...
  • not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player
    Oh, and it will not be playable through speakers or headphones. Sheesh, I mean, that way people could benefit from something without paying for it, and that surely cannot be a good thing!
  • Let me listen to the songs on my computer so I know if I like them enough to spend money, and when I do I'll buy the CD. Recently I went hunting for Power Metal bands (they're getting hard to find w/o mp3.com :( ) and couldn't find one band who didn't have either 30 second clips or edited their posted songs because, god forbid, I listen to an mp3 instead of buying their record. That might work for a truely excellant band like Freedom Call or Hammerfall, but for a middling band just hitting it's stride? It's
  • by sjonke (457707) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @11:34AM (#16000111) Journal
    Why hasn't the product placement concept come to music yet? Since people are downloading music for free from all kinds of sources and there is no stop to it, why not put the advertising in the music? I can't imagine that Brittany Spears would complain about having to incorporate "Coke" or "Victoria's Secret" into a song. Here is an example product placement in a popular song:

    I am going to the corner, gonna buy some iPod bling.
    Would you pardon me if it's a black 60 gigabyte t'ing
    Good golly, miss Molly, sure like to ball.
    When you're rockin' and a rollin' can't hear your momma call.
    • Let's see

      Kodachrome, by Paul Simon (Also mentions Nikon Cameras
      Cadillac Ranch, Bruce Sprinstein
      Pink Cadillac, Bruce Sprinsein

      I'm sure there are others, but those are just off the top of my head. (Yes, I know these songs weren't written with advertising in ming, it's just that it's possible for a hit song to include an endorsement)
  • Given the quality of music us Brits seem to enjoy they should change to

    Crazy Frog

    ding ding dididing....
  • and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?

    Not for me. I'd rather pay for the convenience of freely usable music than get usage-restricted tracks for free.

    Cheers.
    • by TheZorch (925979)
      The answer is "no" but this is a start in the right direction. Once the labels begin to learn this is the wave of the future for music then they'll all finally get off their high-horse and change with the times.

      Eventually we should see CD Burning added to this service. You can do it in iTunes so why not.
  • They have some DRM scheme, probably WMA, on these files - the article mentions that people will need to visit the site once a month to maintain access to their downloads. That means that this won't work on an iPod, which means that some 80% of the market is already excluded. At whom exactly is this targeted?
  • It's called an FM radio. I have one in my car, and it downloads music to my brain whenever I drive. Unfortunately, my brain seems to have a problem with the "delete" function. I can't delete that copy of "Hollaback Girl" I downloaded a few months back. Not only that, my mental media player is stuck on repeat right at that part with trombone slide. Someone please help!
  • No more excuses... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Atraxen (790188)
    What is the usual chorus of self-justification we hear from pirates?

    "I pirate to try out bands for free - I buy new bands all the time by discovering them this way, so I should be allowed to pirate because the artist makes money!"
    "I only get stuff I wouldn't have paid for anyway, so no one's losing money anyway."
    "I want to listen to music where I want, and if I can't pay and maintain all my rights, then I won't pay and will simply pirate the music!"

    Well, since this is free and semi-portable (i.e. any web-ac
  • Isn't this called "radio"?
  • Next Headline: RIAA Sues Universal

    Can't you just see it? With record labels giving away music, they're taking away market share for RIAA's lawyers. They gotta sue someone or risk losing their jobs, so who else to go after but the record labels?
  • by ursabear (818651) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:36PM (#16000571) Homepage Journal
    In my opinion, the article's concept is likely to have a good impact, but on many levels. I think it is important to see that if this isn't directly successful, it may be the precursor to something much more successful.

    First, free music is pretty cool, especially if it is from known artists (although I have amassed TENS of fans from many countries and sold TENS of CDs and a hundred or so downloads from iTunes et. al internationally while giving away more than half my catalog on price-optional sites like iSound.com [isound.com], pureVolume.com [purevolume.com], and audiri.com [audiri.com]). Free music as incentive for something else is a model that is evolving pretty hard right now, but I bet it will stick around for a long time.

    There are lots of examples where successes have occurred with ad-driven services: broadcast TV; "free", ad-driven internet provider services, tons of "free" web sites and site hosting, etc. I don't know that the average John and Jane Q. Publique will mind the ads in this case... time will tell.

    A Big Record Company is trying something fairly broad with "free" music. This is a positive step - trying to redefine oneself in business is akin to survival. I think it was W.E. Deming [wikipedia.org] who said, "It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." So, perhaps this record label is trying to change for its betterment.

  • by McLuhanesque (176628) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:31PM (#16001321) Homepage
    User listens to music for free, but there are ads. Where have I heard of this before? Lots of Internet radio around, like Pandora [pandora.com], that nominally doesn't allow the music to be captured, played on a portable device, etc., except if you find where the files are cached, and rename them to SomethingUseful.mp3.

    Really nothing to see here, except for the fact that Universal now realizes that music being heard leads to music being bought.

10 to the minus 6th power Movie = 1 Microfilm

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