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The Almighty Buck

Review of pressplay and RealOne 177

c64guy writes: "Okay, so we all know that the music labels launched their own digital music subscription services, and that the new for-pay Napster should be debuting any minute. Here's a particularly in-depth review that compares the nitty-gritty of the services. For example, with RealOne, you can only ever have 200 tracks activated on your system. Even if you've been subscribed for eight months and downloaded 1600 tracks, you can still only listen to 200 of them in one month."
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Review of pressplay and RealOne

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  • Why only 200 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shawnmelliott ( 515892 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:08AM (#3234400) Journal
    What's the point in only being able to listen to 200? How many albums is that? I know that I listen to alot more music than that that I buy on a CD. Why not just limit it to say 1 song / month = set rate. That way the more I pay the more I can listen to... with no limit on the total # of songs. I don't see this helping their pay service very much

    • I think the idea is people want to download singles, not albums. The vast majority of people complaining about prices whine "there's only one or two good songs on an album". That's the market for these services, not people like me who enjoy the whole album.

      Nevertheless I think the limit is shortsighted and will eventually be dropped.
      • "there's only one or two good songs on an album".

        You have a point. In this light, I fail to see how they expect us to find the good stuff from the bad in a given album, when you're limited to 200 songs. That isn't much at all.

        I guess I'll stick with my mpegs for the moment :)

        • I think you're supposed to know what you want beforehand. If they were really smart they'd be pushing their streams as a means to have customers identify new material. That's what I use streams for.

          OTOH, most objections I have seen to the service would suggest people already know what they want, they just have to go and get it.

          *shrug*

          Who am I to challenge the sagacity of the Big 5?
    • by danro ( 544913 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @12:33PM (#3234673) Homepage
      I don't think the RIAA is stupid enough to think there is a market for their "product" now.
      But they are attempting to create a market through legislation.
      And, who knows, if they can buy the US and make the US stronarm the rest of the world then this might actually work. A small step for their bottom line, and a huge leap backwards for mankind, artists and audience alike.

      The "copyright industry" is quickly becoming obsolete, they are turning into useless middle men that doesn't provide any value to customers or artists. They can only continue existing in their current form through legislation.
      I have no problem with supporting the artists, but I'll be damned if I let the middle men get their hands on my money. I completely stopped buying retail CD's a year ago. Nowdays I only buy second hand or directly from the artists, and if I can't do that, then I'll rather pirate than support these dinosaurs.
      Obsolete bussines models are supposed to die. Darwin's laws should apply to businesses to, especially businesses.
      Lets all give them a little push on the way.
      I am doing my part, are you?
    • What if the none of the creators of these services are interested in the services working?
      It is very plausible they plan to keep these sites running with the current set of ridiciulous limitations (200 songs, lose everything when subscription ends, etc.); have them fail and then go cry to the legislature that digital distribution on the internet is impossible and should be made illegal - after all, if they can't make it happen why should anyone else be allowed?
      Or they could settle for having the image of having "tried" digital distribution and "proven" that it doesn't work...
      The issue is that from their own perspective these companies have nothing to lose and everything to gain by the failure of their digital distribution ventures.
  • Limiting the number you can listen to per month, even if you've downloaded more, will limit the number of subscribers that sign up...to around 200 per month.
  • by TheViffer ( 128272 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:13AM (#3234426)
    "Pressplay and RealOnes media formats hacked"

    One unknown source was stated as saying "We can't give those little bastards anything! They have no right to fair use!"
  • by crumbz ( 41803 ) <<remove_spam>jus ... spam>gmail...com> on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:14AM (#3234435) Homepage
    OK. So I am now going to pay to listen to less music? You can say goodbye to these schemes now, as they have no chance of suceeding. Do these people honestly think there is a market for this, now that music is free for all intents and purposes? The proverbial genie has been let out of the bottle.
    • You can say goodbye to these schemes now, as they have no chance of suceeding.

      You say that like its news to the record labels. Six months after debut, when the total subscriptions is barly pushing three digits, they'll shut the service down and say "See no one wants to pay for their music downloads. The only reason Napster and the like were popular is that they were free. Those evil, hacking, napster-loving, commerce-hating, artist-robbing, economy-destroying, pirates must be stopped" These horrible music subscription scemes were never intended to succeed, only to be a token foray into the world of music downloads. Listening to music on a computer is only about robbing people, or so we'll be told.
      • You say that like its news to the record labels. Six months after debut, when the total subscriptions is barly pushing three digits, they'll shut the service down and say "See no one wants to pay for their music downloads. The only reason Napster and the like were popular is that they were free.

        And They'd be right. The Genie is out of the bottle and they know it, and are scared shitless. No wonder they run to hardware protection.

    • I don't think record companies WANT these services to succeed. When these services fail, they'll say, "We tried to sell digital music online, but it's just not a viable market"
      • "We tried to sell digital music online, but it's just not a viable market"

        Now all they need to realize is that they no longer have a viable business.

        Music will never be obsolete. But the record companies only have existed because they were the only realistic ways to get the artists' music into the listeners' hands.

        That is no longer the case. The record companies no longer have any business reason to exist.

        I give them 5-10 years. Legislation or not, they'll be gone. Economics demands it.

    • by lost_it ( 44553 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @12:13PM (#3234568)
      Actually, for-pay services have a chance (at least to get my money) for two reasons:
      1) Guaranteed quality. I don't have time to check every mp3 I download to make sure that it was ripped by someone intelligent enough to do it correctly.

      2) Easy browsing. I want to _really_ be able to search by artist, song title, year, etc. And when I search by song and find the song that I want, I want to be one click away from finding other songs that that band produced.

      3) I just realized that I don't need to own the music. I'd be perfectly happy renting music, so long as I can rent as much as I want, and do so easily and affordably.

      Because I can't get 1 or 2 with normal P2P filesharing, I don't use them anymore. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like any of the current offerings from the record labels are meeting my requirements for 3, so they won't work either.

      By the way, anyone know where I can find any music downloading program (for Linux) that will meet all of these requirements? It doesn't have to be mainstream music.
      • I like Emusic. I think it meets all of these requirements. It might be -2- clicks to get to the rest of the songs by a band, but I'm not 100%. :)

      • Guaranteed quality. I don't have time to check every mp3 I download to make sure that it was ripped by someone intelligent enough to do it correctly.

        Either I've had very good luck or the problem is overblown. The vast majority of the MP3s I download have completely adequate quality. Less than 10% have problems--and when they do, I just pop online and grab another version. Problem solved.

        Easy browsing. I want to _really_ be able to search by artist, song title, year, etc. And when I search by song and find the song that I want, I want to be one click away from finding other songs that that band produced.

        That's what CDNOW is for. Hop on over to CDNOW, find what you are looking for, then power-up the 'ol P2P and grab it.

        I just realized that I don't need to own the music. I'd be perfectly happy renting music, so long as I can rent as much as I want, and do so easily and affordably.

        I think you are one of few. While many people might be willing to make micropayments to artists to get the songs they want, I don't think many people would be willing to rent them.

        I used to support the idea of micropayments to artists. Now I don't even support that. Music is free now. Whether you call it "genie out of the bottle" or "invisible market forces" the fact is that music is now a free commodity.

        Smart artists will realize that and, little by little, we will see that my prophecy is completely true: Music tracks will be free and will be used by artists as advertisements so that when they tour, people go. The artists make much more money from concerts than they do from record sales anyways.

        I haven't bought a recorded CD in 2+ years and I don't intend to. I already bought 600+ CDs in my life; I've been robbed by the record executives long enough and have little pitty for them now that they're complaining that they're being robbed. You abuse anyone anywhere long enough and eventually you get bitten. That's what's happened to the record executives.

      • Guaranteed quality. I don't have time to check every mp3 I download to make sure that it was ripped by someone intelligent enough to do it correctly.

        Um... let me get this straight, if I can. Do you regularly download music that you never listen to, just for the sake of archival/P2P distribution? Forgive me if I'm not mistaken, but this is exactly one of the biggest naughties that we have going on. People aren't even downloading music to listen to it -- they're downloading it so other people can get it from them.

        (Yes, I know you're pro music-services. I'm just trying to make a small Devil's Advocate type of point.)

      • Actually, for-pay services have a chance (at least to get my money) for two reasons:
        1) Guaranteed quality.


        Don't you mean guaranteed LACK of quality? Last I checked, the highest quality music that I could buy from a for-pay service was about 128bps MP3. For some songs, that doesn't cut it. Yet on an illegimiate service, I could get anything up to insane 320bps FBR MP3.

        Also note - the recording industry does not want high quality digital files in public hands AT ALL. Hi quality analog is fine, but the idea that the unwashed masses can access near-studio-quality recordings sends chills doen the spines of studio execs due to the potential for lossless reproduction without the middleman.

        2) Easy browsing.

        Again, surely it's the opposite that is true. Illegimiate services will pull up the song you want. A search on a for-pay system very, VERY rarely seems to tuen up the song I want, because each system only offers a fraction of the artists.

        You (understatingly) note that for-play services fail to meet requirement 3, (while illegimate system are fine in this regard)

        I think for-pay services are doomed to fail for one reason - the MPAA wants them to fail. Pressplay isn't a serious attempt at selling via the internet. It is (among other things) an attempt to manufacture evidence that Napster-like services cannot be legitimately competed with and thus must be shut down or the world will end. Else why is it so utterly useless to 99.98% of music consumers? If they were serious about selling online, Pressplay wouldn't be such an insultingly rediculous POS.

        Or maybe they're just too stupid to realise that the old tricks (making you buy a couple of albums to get the songs you want) are not going to cut it in the digital world, and they actually have to do what every other business does - sell what the consumer wants to buy, rather than use their monopoly powers to ruthlessly dictate to both artist and consumer who is allowed to do what.
  • What helped make Napster so popular was the ability to find nearly anything under the sun. These networks lack popular artists like Madonna, U2 and the Beatles.

    A lot of indie music is really good, but for most people, they want the mainstream stuff.

    Unless they expand the choices, these pay services likely will not take off.
  • whew! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tanveer1979 ( 530624 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:15AM (#3234444) Homepage Journal
    I cant understand RIAA's problem. These record labels are crying like spoilt brats. Who hasnt seen slump. Slump is everywhere, and what do they really expect, to be immune. To me the picture looks a weird, and I certainly feel that this will stifle bands which prefer to stream online rather than go to record labels, and currently many are doing that. On the internet there are lots of bands, real good ones too who prefer to use independent radio stations, if the record labels get in there and do some muscle flexing, they can very well kill independent radio! and its not just jurisdictions they are getting, but now they wanna come in from both sides. But you cant have your cake and eat it too. People will find a way to workaround real one and all the BS. One major crack, and a few thouosand songs get stolen adn put on some russian and chinese server, these guys will learn a lesson As for limiting the number of songs, i wonder who are these guys to decide how many songs i wanna listen to. Man i got my rights, if i wanna spend more and buy more i will, this rule wont really stand in court if you got good lawers backing you!
    • Independent Internet Radio will soon be dead.

      Read this for a start: http://salon.com/tech/feature/2002/03/26/web_radio /index.html
    • Who hasnt seen slump. Slump is everywhere, and what do they really expect, to be immune.

      They are immune. A quick look at the Billboard 200 [billboard.com] shows a count of 111 million albums at least sold (within the last year, give or take). I did this by simply counting the albums that had reached [multi]platinum status. This doesn't count gold records, or the number of albums sold since hitting a platinum milestone, or the sales of albums that didn't hit gold or platinum yet. So let's add a couple more million sales just for fun. That takes us to 113 million sales at around USD$10 apiece...over 1 billion USD. Yeah, those poor guys are in SUCH a slump. I guess they won't be able to buy any more Bentleys or Ferraris for their videos this year...

      In that same vein, those in the US (or even outside) that have access to MTV -- watch and episode of the show "Cribs" and tell me if these people are hurting for money or in a slump.

      The record industry wants you to think there's a slump, that there are lost sales to digital pirates and amoral teenagers. Without such FUD, they wouldn't be able to force services such as this on the unsuspecting public.

      greg
  • by joemc79 ( 222495 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:16AM (#3234453)
    I was not impressed with their selection. They had spotty atrist coverage and some artists had only half of their tracks available. My biggest two beefs:
    1) You lost all your downloaded music when you cancel (you can keep burnt music obviously.)

    2) All your music is stuck inside of pressplay. No mp3 player support.
    • You lost all your downloaded music when you cancel (you can keep burnt music obviously.)

      For the moment, yes. Don't count on it on the long term, though: there will be limited-use cds and dvds, rest assured...
    • It seems to me as if these companies are setting up these services to fail. They go on and on to the press about opportunity and demand, but really they can't figure out how to make the profits they are accustomed to using this new medium. So they make a token effort, and in a year when they are unable to make a profit (due largely to consumer disgust at their overly restrictive policies), they can turn to legislators and the press and get that much more sympathy. They want to look like the good guys--if they make it look like they're trying and can't succeed against the vicious criminal consumer, they'll do just that.

      The worst possible thing that could happen is that these services actually succeed and become competitive. Then they can say goodbye to that 86% cut off the top and actually have to work for a living.
    • You know, even if you could get your music out, how the heck are you supposed to know who's on which label? Am I supposed to go out and research all the artists I want to download online, figure out who their label is, and figure out which service supports that label? Are you kidding?!? By the time that's done, its easier to go to the store and buy the damn disc.

      If the labels could get around the anti-trust issues of merging their services into one major service - or if they could share artists across services - then consumers might give a damn. Until then, I'm stuck trying to figure out who Yanni signed with...
      • how the heck are you supposed to know who's on which label?

        They are making the wrong assumption that we give a shit who is on what label. Just because those excutives up high care who (rather, how many people) buys the music, doesn't mean we as consumers give a shit who is selling it. It's a concept they just don't understand.

        By the time that's done, its easier to go to the store and buy the damn disc.

        But that's exactly what they want anyway.
  • these companies should call in the Engineers and Tech people to the PHB meetings every so often, just to make sure that they won't appear to be on crack.

    Of course, that would mean that they would have to hire a few ...

  • I think the subject like pretty much sums up everything I have to say on this subject
  • The thing that the RIAA and MPAA just don't understand about movie and music swapping is, the popularity of P2P file swapping sites and rampant piracy is a direct response by consumers to the excessive cost of music and videos. $15 to $35 for what is essentially a piece of plastic? No wonder people are seeking free alternatives!

    Basic economics dictate that if the media industries are losing customers in droves, they need to lower their price and/or produce a better product. These rules apply to every business. Take prostitution for instance. One day I was walking down 5th street, minding my own business, when a hooker walked up to me and said "blow you for $30." "No thanks," I replied and kept on walking. She whistled and soon three huge men burst out of the building next to us and tackled me to the ground. One held me down, one beat me about the head and arms and one of them pulled down my pants and started inserting hot peppers into me from behind. The prostitute, meanwhile, repeatedly kicked me in my nuts until they felt like swollen bowling balls. After who knows how many scorching hot jalapenos were shoved into my anus, the guy started pumping me in the butt. I blacked out when one of them urinated on my face. Long story short, I got an ass full of man-cheese, a face full of pee and a sore nut sack. Indeed, it was an interesting lesson in United States' free-market economics.

    So don't let the media industry trample on your rights. As long as free alternatives exist to keep big media in check, consumers will have a tool on their side to balance market forces. Thank you.

    • Very descriptive. You should write greeting cards. I'll never eat Mexican food again. I may never eat again.
    • What is the matter with you? Nothing like a little anonymity to bring out the freak in oneself, eh?
    • > Basic economics dictate that if the media industries are losing customers in droves, they need to lower their price and/or produce a better product. These rules apply to every business.
      > Take prostitution for instance. One day I was walking down 5th street, minding my own business, when a hooker walked up to me and said "blow you for $30."
      > "No thanks," I replied and kept on walking. She whistled and soon three huge men burst out of the building next to us and tackled me to the ground. One held me down, one beat me [ ... ] Long story short, I got an ass full of man-cheese, a face full of pee and a sore nut sack.

      And although you were trolling, I'd give you a +1, Insightful, because you've hit the nail on the head.

      Just like the hooker in your story, when the rules of economics are running against you, "calling in the thugs" is how you maintain your business.

      The DMCA makes it illegal to fix copy-cripped hardware. If you're already in a relationship, you're allowed to say "no" to the hooker, and save your $30 by getting your blowjob from your partner.

      The CBDTPA makes it illegal to use anything but copy-crippled hardware. The three thugs who beat you up were named Eisner, Valenti, and Rosen. This was legal, because after Hollings' law goes through, it'll be illegal to have sex with anyone but the $30 hooker.

      (After all, countless prostitutes suffer cruel treatment at the hands of their pimps and live in poverty because you - yes, you - are depriving them of the money they need to survive. Every time you sleep with your consenting wife, girlfriend, or bar floozie - it's like you're pressing the lit cigarette against the hooker's arm. And you have the gall to call it "free" sex. For shame.)

      Thought for the day: Replace "artist" with "prostitute", "entertainment industry" with "pimp", and "rampant internet piracy" (the exchange of data for the mutual benefit of both parties) with "any kind of consensual sex where no money is exchanged" (the exchange of bodily fluids for the mutual benefit of both parties).

      > Indeed, it was an interesting lesson in United States' free-market economics.

      Of that, I have no doubt. The CPDTPA promises an equally interesting lesson in civics, and an equally interesting hangover consisting of a hard drive full of N'Sync and an assload of cartoon mouse jizz.

  • You know your business venture is going to fail when it's entirely based on limiting the basic functionality of a computer. And yet you'd be hard pressed to an internet business model that doesn't involve that. (Besides simple ordering and shipping of hard goods)
  • RealOne beta, (Score:2, Insightful)

    I tried the beta of RealOne and I must say that it was very annoying. When I install it, I want it simply to play Real files and listen to Real streams. But RealOne insisted on having programs running resident, forced me to create a account on their system, and then continued to inform me of "great" things via the player.
    Now this things might have changed in the official release so I am going to give it a try. A lot of sites are using Real as the streaming media, including the radio stations I listen to so I need the player. It's great for them that people choose their format to broadcast their content but if that means that I am forced to get a lot of "noise" in the process, I'm sad to say that I'd rather use Mediaplayer where I can listen to radio and watch newsbroadcasts without all the junk.
    I have always been happy about Real and choosen it above other formats, because I liked it and that I could get a server for FreeBSD.

    I guess they are in need of money, just like so many others, and the recent increase of emails from distributers regarding their products, that have my email because I have installed servers, seems to verify this.
    I want to see Real continue, it is nice to have a alternative to MediaPlayer of course one could take a look at Apple's quicktime but it does not seem to be as widely uses as Real but that could of course change now that there's a free server for Quicktime. Now if only Quicktime could play in full-screen. :-)
    OK, now it's time to see the new version of RealOne and if I can install it without all the "static". :)
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:23AM (#3234495)
    This is from: News.com [com.com] on a panel discussion held by tech/content/gov't bigwigs on Sunday.

    [Hilary] Rosen, however, said the proposed bill [CBADTA] is "recognition that people who make entertainment products are a value driver for technology products." But she added later that the movie industry is running into the same problems as the recording industry, and Hollywood is not heeding past lessons.

    "It's amazing that they're not paying attention to what happened with music," she said. The film studios are "clearly waiting for the ideal security. You have to get out there and change your business model, and that lesson hasn't been learned yet."

    (My bold emphasis)

    • You have to get out there and change your business model, and that lesson hasn't been learned yet.

      Yes, but the RIAA and the MPAA have changed their business models. They are now based on the legislature.

      -
  • by qurob ( 543434 )
    Background:
    In the last week of February 2002, the RIAA announced that shipments by record companies slipped 10.3% from 2000 to 2001. According to Reuters, this is the music industry's worst slump in a decade. "When 23% of surveyed music consumers say they are not buying more music because they are downloading or copying their music for free, we cannot ignore the impact on the marketplace," RIAA President Hilary Rosen said in a statement.

    In a recent attempt to turn a profit from the whole digital music scene, the Major Labels created content alliances and launched paid subscription services providing access to their digital content. Sony, Universal, EMI (and over eighty smaller labels) launched PressPlay and RealNetworks launched RealOne MusicPass in partnership with MusicNet whose labels include BMG, EMI, Zomba, & AOL Time Warner. For now, these services are available in the U.S. only.

    About me:
    Let's get this out of the way up-front: I'm a pirate. Two years ago I ripped my 270 CDs to MP3 and pawned them to get a bigger hard drive. With my Cambridge SoundWorks speakers, SoundBlaster Live and MusicMatch Jukebox, my computer surpassed my stereo's phatness of sound. Bye bye boombox; no more physical media. P2P file-sharing (new at the time) made the analog-digital conversion that much sweeter.

    I now have about 200 Gigs of digital content with components that wirelessly send audio and video (divx) out to my surround system and TV. I love my digital media. For me and many others, there's no turning back.

    Having said that, I was interested to see what the labels were doing with their new subscription services. So, for the purposes of this review, I'm going to put my personal bias aside, get down with the payments and take a look under their hoods.

    Terms You'll Need To Know:

    Stream: When you stream a song or video from a music service, the file is not stored on your computer for future playback. Listening to a streamed song or video for more than thirty seconds counts against your subscription streams. If you stream the same song twice, this also counts against your subscription.

    Download: Downloaded songs are saved to your computer. When the song is done playing, the download stays on your drive. You can play an activated download as often as you want without paying another credit.

    Burn: Some downloads can be burned onto a CD as an audio track that will be playable in a regular CD player. Burning a track costs a burn credit.

    Activate: You may have downloaded a song from the online music service, but you won't be able to play it until you activate it. This process contacts the music service and deducts one credit from your account, while simultaneously "activating" the song so you can listen to it.

    Getting dirty:

    All of the subscription services are accessed through a program that you must download and install. After installation you can just double-click on their happy little icons to start 'em up. Be sure to be online at the time though, because they're heavily web-dependent.

    Click through to the reviews:

    So, What's My Conclusion?

    If I had to subscribe to one of these services right now I'd go with pressplay. If I could wait and test the new Napster, and if it worked well, I would probably go with Napster instead.

    That being said, if I didn't have to subscribe to any of these services, I wouldn't. And neither will the majority of music pirates. Why? Well there are a number of huge problems:

    First, did you notice that a lot of great artists were not found in any of the test searches? Exactly. The problem is that instead of creating one huge subscription service, they created several smaller ones, each carrying only some music. Users won't want to pay for three subscriptions to access all of the music that they like. They'll just use the illegal P2P software that gives them access to everything instead.

    Second, even though you're paying for their content, they are restricting how you can use it/burn it, and it won't play on an MP3 player. The point of digital media is convenience, and MP3s that you can only play on your computer just aren't convenient.

    Third, when you stop paying, you lose your songs, making these services thinly-disguised music rental outlets. It's kind of like HMV saying that if you stop buying CDs from them, every album you've ever purchased at an HMV disappears.

    Fourth, the fact that they limit how many tracks you can purchase per month means that they are limiting their own profit-making ability and our ability to get the content we want. Why wouldn't they let you purchase additional credits when you run out? I really don't know what they were thinking here, it just doesn't make cents.

    Fifth, I think they're targeting the wrong demographic. A RealOne representative informed me that their target market is young males 24-35 with a higher than average income who want easy legal access to the latest in hip music. Is this the market that is currently causing the most losses for the RIAA? The logical step would be to target the demographic most likely pirating digital music -- students 18-24 years of age. In order to convert a pirate you would have to provide them with a lot of added value, and if you're adding that much value, you'll hook the other demographics too.

    Sixth, you need a credit card to get in on the action. It's very easy to integrate PayPal support for debit cards these days, and that would make their services much more accessible to the under 25 demographic.

    Lastly, and most problematic:
    There are too many free, easily accessible peer-to-peer applications out there. I conducted an informal survey of 120 journalism and fashion students at Humber College in Toronto and though very few (less than 10%) said they "liked" computers, over 95% of them had used peer-to-peer software to get their music and said they would not pay for a similar service. One student said he would consider it if it was affordable, but that he didn't have a credit card.

    In the end, somehow the music subscription services need to figure out how to add value to their pay services in order to make them more attractive, otherwise they will never really take off.

    NEW NAPSTER

    Little information is known as of yet, because it hasn't been released. I wasn't able to try the service hands-on, but here's a preview of what's to come.

    The Start-up Screen: Will include the basic categories of music you can browse (like pressplay), as well as some featured tracks and artists. Your music player, instant messenger, and transfer monitor are also viewable from the main page. The navigation buttons include: Home, Search, Browse, Library, Chat, Discover (new content), Transfers, Hot List (people you've gotten tracks from before), and Player.

    Finding Music: The new Napster will add content browsing to the familiar search box. I'm not sure if you'll be able to browse by popularity of download and by sub-genre, but at least it's a move in the right direction.

    Streaming: N/A

    Upon Unsubscription: It is currently unclear whether your music will self-destruct when you cancel your subscription.

    How It Works: The new Napster uses a technology called "Bandwidth Harvesting." In order to conserve bandwidth on Napster's servers, every time you request a file, the software tries to download it from another user first (transfers are logged, so you still get charged if the track isn't free). If no one has the track, then you get it from their servers, which have high quality copies of all content available on the Napster network.

    Before a file is transferred through the Napster Network, it is 'wrapped' in a secure NAP sleeve that defines how that content may be used. All file transfers are logged, so although I may have certain abilities to play a track, someone who downloads that track from me may have different abilities/restrictions depending on how much they paid.

    Music Partners: Much of the music available through RealOne MusicPass will be available on Napster through a partnership with MusicNet and over 5000 additional indie labels.

    Secure Music: Yes, but also supports non-secure music (such as MP3)

    Distribution Technology: Centralized/Decentralized Hybrid.

    Pros:

    Acts as a distribution platform/system for indie artists. Napster will offer artists and labels tools to register as rights holders and get paid for sharing their music on Napster. Rights holders can set rules for how their music files are used, check their account status online, and receive quarterly statements. This is brilliant: You can now sell your stuff via Napster. They are poised to become the first true digital label.
    Like pressplay, the ability to Browse content should be exemplary.
    Cons:

    They sold out to The Man. (Ok, so they were taken to court and had to change, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.)
    Previous Napster users must sign up again with a new login and password, presumably due to new privacy policies, etc. This is, arguably, not that big an issue.
    Usability: Everything that I have seen makes me believe it will be a very easy to use and eye-pleasing system.

    The skinny: If Napster allows you to keep your content after you cancel your subscription, and if they can find a way to make it play on MP3 players, and if the cost is right, I believe that the new Napster will blow RealOne MusicPass out of the water and surpass their 500,000 subscriber mark (which took eighteen months to establish) within one year of launch. Because they have partnered with over 5000 indie labels, they will be the place to get hard-to-find indie content, legally. (As an aside: While many people pirate music from P2P music services, most think twice about pirating indie artists' stuff. This is where Napster will have an edge. The other music subscription services all focus on content from the major labels, who music pirates do not empathize with, and whose content they do not hesitate to nab.)

    REALONE

    Pricing:

    $9.95 U.S.per month for a RealOne MusicPass which includes 100 downloads, 100 streams (without exclusive/premier content, and with ads intermingled with the streaming radio content), and 0 burns per month.
    $14.95 U.S. per month for a RealOne MusicPass with 175 downloads, 175 streams
    $19.95 U.S. per month for a RealOne MusicPass with 200 downloads, 200 streams
    $19.95 U.S.per month for a RealOne SuperPass Gold, which includes 125 downloads, 125 streams (including the exclusive/premium RealOne content and ad-free genre-based streaming radio), and 0 burns per month.
    $24.95 U.S. per month for a SuperPass Gold, which includes 200 downloads, 200 streams.
    Payment Method: credit card only

    Availability: currently U.S.only

    Platform: PC Only

    The Start-up Screen: Includes a number of featured songs, videos, news, and artists. There are seven main navigation sections in the start-up webpage, including: Games, Lifestyle, Music, Sport, Entertainment, News, and RealOne Central. The main program buttons are: Now Playing (for playlists), Web (the aforementioned webpage), My Library, CD, Devices, Radio, Channels (video), and Search. Much of the RealOne Player's interface is web-based, resulting in a slower, less satisfying user-experience than with pressplay.

    Finding Music: There is a nice"search" button that allows you to search Radio, Music and RealOne content, but due to a technical glitch, the RealOne content option doesn't always appear, making it impossible to find any of the service's music. (See "Usability" for more details.)

    Unfortunately, RealOne doesn't offer anything like pressplay's "Browse Available Music" feature.

    Streaming: Genre-based radio stations and television-like video channels. In an overnight test designed to use all of my available streams, the RealOne player lost its connection to the RealServer.

    Buffering was also an issue, which it always seems to be with Real. Content stuttered frequently.

    Upon Unsubscription: Thirty days after you activate your music, if you do not renew it (that is, if your subscription is cancelled), all of your music will de-activate itself.

    How It Works: You start with anywhere from 125 to 200 credits. You can then spend those credits to either a) download and activate a new song, or b) keep a track you already have downloaded active for another month. Once you download a song, you must activate it before you can listen to it. This process is easy and only requires a few clicks, but if you download a lot of songs at once, it can be kind of tedious.

    Do My Downloads Accumulate?: No. If you want to keep a track that you downloaded for an additional month, you must spend an additional credit. Hence, you can only ever have 200 active RealOne tracks on your system.

    # Artists: Over 10,000 artists and 75,000 songs

    Music Partners: BMG Entertainment, EMI Music, Zomba, AOL Time Warner (MusicNet), RealNetworks

    Pros:

    Ability to run in toolbar mode.
    Access to exclusive RealOne streaming content is nice.
    Cons:

    You can't buy more music than their best plan offers.
    Their exclusive streaming content quality is not as good as they claim it is, and it still exhibits the typical RealIssues -- namely lengthy "buffering" before playback, even on high speed internet.
    There are banner ads in the media browser.
    The required RealOne player is too web-integrated: Even with broadband it's underwhelmingly pokey.
    Unused download credits do not carry over to the next month.
    SneakyMoves:

    You can't burn tracks that you download from RealOne, even though RealOne has music burning software built in. The burning feature is only for non-RealOne music. This is not obvious when you sign up.
    If you unsubscribe, your music commits suicide.
    Integrated CDR Software?: Yes, but you can only burn MP3s and Windows Media content. You cannot burn the RealOne content you paid for.

    Usability: The re-jigged RealJukebox application is easy to use, but it locked up frequently when attempting to open the Media Browser (which is where you can see all of your content). Granted, I have about 12,000 tracks, but MusicMatch Jukebox has no problem with it. It was also a little slow, and tended to bog down my system (a 667 Mhz P3 with 768 RAM).

    It took me several days to figure out how to find tracks, because the RealOne Content search option was missing. It turns out that for some reason the service was automatically logging me out without telling me (The RealOne search is only available when you're online). The only way I found to remedy this was to shut down, restart the RealOne player and immediately search for RealOne content before I was auto-logged out. So much for usability: There is no way my parents could have figured this out.

    Can I play RealOne MusicPass content on my MP3 player: No.

    Distribution Technology: Centralized proprietary MusicNet technology

    # Users: More than 500,000 paying subscribers to all RealOne services -- more than any other pay service.

    Additional Comments: Real's pay-music initiative in particular is merely providing 'passing fancy' access: You can listen to your tracks until you're sick of all 100 of them, and then you can ditch them and get new tracks. At ten cents per track per month though, you'll be paying $1.20 U.S. per song per year for your music. So, unlike CDs in music stores, the longer you want to have the music, the more it will cost you. At this rate, my current music collection would cost me roughly $27,000 Canadian annually to maintain, and I know several people with more digital music than me. Ouch.

    Test Searches:

    They Do Have: Radiohead, Massive Attack, Stereolab, Sneaker Pimps, Django Reinhardt, Sinatra

    They Do NOT Have: Madonna, The Beatles, U2 (1 track), Diana Krall, Eminem, Moby (1 track), Harry Connick Jr., Mandalay, Esthero, Limp Bizket, Blues Brothers

    The skinny: The fact that I can't put my songs on an MP3 player or a CD knocks RealOne out of contention immediately. I'm tied to my PC if I want to listen to my RealOne content: Blah. Furthermore, their software bugs need to be worked out. Not only can I not take my songs with me, but all too often I couldn't even access them.

    Pay Service Rating: 1 out of 5.

    PRESSPLAY

    Pricing:

    $9.95 U.S.per month gets you 30 downloads, 300 streams, and 0 burns.
    $15 U.S.per month gets you 50 downloads, 500 streams, and 10 burns.
    $20 U.S.per month gets you 75 downloads, 750 streams, and 15 burns.
    $25 U.S.per month gets you 100 downloads, 1000 streams, and 20 burns.
    Payment Method: credit card only

    Availability: currently U.S.only

    Platform: PC Only

    The Start-up Screen: pressplay's start-up screen gives you quick access to the most recently added content and featured tracks in various genres. There are six toolbar-style buttons: Home, Find Music, My Music, Burn Tracks, Download Status, and Message Boards.

    Finding Music: pressplay makes finding the music you want very easy. You can either use the "search" function or you can browse all of their available music by popularity of download, artist, album, genre, and sub-genre. (For example, some of the sub-genres of rap include East Side and West Side.)

    This browsing feature is sweet. You never have to wonder "What is there to download?" -- you can just dig right in and browse pressplay's entire collection. (And then you can cry to mommy when you've used up your entire quota in the first two days.)

    Beside each track there are one or more icons. A wave icon indicates that you can stream the track, a downward arrow icon indicates that you can download it, and a little flame indicates that you can burn the track after you've downloaded it. Which raises an important point: No, you can't burn every track that's available for download. Usage is restricted.

    Streaming: Streaming on pressplay is extremely easy, and almost streamed on my 33.6 dial-up. Just click on the water symbol, and it streams. Voila!

    Upon Unsubscription: Should your account become inactive, all of the music you have downloaded to date will automatically deactivate itself.

    How It Works: When you complete a download, stream more than thirty seconds of a song, or burn a track, it makes the appropriate deduction from your account. pressplay automatically activates all downloaded songs so that they are immediately available for playback.

    Do My Downloads Accumulate?: Yes. Tracks that you download this month will be accessible to you next month at no extra charge.

    # Artists: unspecified

    Music Partners: Sony, Universal, EMI, Madacy, Matador, Navarre, Owie, Razoe & Tie, Roadrunner, Rounder (over eighty-two labels in total), MSN Music, Roxio, MP3.com, Yahoo music.

    Pros:

    The ability to browse all of pressplay's content is amazing. This is something that none of the P2P software can do, due to its dynamic nature. pressplay's system works just like a jukebox application on your local machine. Very simple and powerful.
    There are no banner ads.
    The integrated Roxio CD burning software is great.
    Unlike RealOne, pressplay allows you to accumulate and carry over your downloads from one month to the next.
    Genre-specific message boards are nice (but in my opinion there should be more than fifteen genres).
    File management and playback abilities are integrated and very easy to use.
    Cons:

    You cannot buy more tracks than their best plan offers.
    Paying for streams that are not exclusive to pressplay and are available on other free streaming radio stations is bollocks! It's like charging you to listen to the radio! [Ed.'s note: Of course, now that web broadcasters have to pay royalties to stream songs over the net, free streaming web radio could be a thing of the past.]
    Unused burn, stream and download credits do not carry over for use the next month.
    Sneaky Moves:

    You will be billed if you do not proactively cancel your fourteen-day "free" trial at the end of those fourteen days.
    You can't burn more than two tracks per artist per month. Because you have to be online to burn pressplay downloads and you have use the integrated burning software (the tracks are encrypted), pressplay can monitor what you burn. Want to make a mixed Radiohead CD? Too bad. You can't. You can mix two Radiohead tracks with other artists' tracks though.
    If you unsubscribe, all of the tracks you've downloaded to date deactivate themselves and become unplayable. So, if you've been a subscriber of the Premium Plan for a year, you lose $400 of music. (Your tracks can be reactivated if you re-subscribe within six months). I can't imagine how frustrating this would be for a dial-up user.
    Integrated CDR Software?: Yes, by Roxio.

    Usability: Great! This is a very polished user experience.

    Can I play my pressplay content on my MP3 player: Not yet, but they are working on it.

    Distribution Technology: Centralized proprietary technology

    # Users: pressplay would not release these numbers

    Test Searches:

    They Do Have: Harry Connick Jr., Massive Attack, Radiohead

    They Do NOT Have: Madonna, The Beatles, Django Reinhardt, Paris Combo, I am Sam Soundtrack.

    The skinny: The user experience is slick and easy. This counts for a lot. The browsing feature is magnificent. However, only being able to burn two tracks per artist per month, combined with the possibility of losing access to all of your downloads if you decide you don't want to keep paying the pressplay bill... Well, that just creates unhappy images in my head.

    Pay Service Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5. (Yes, I'm harsh. But I'm a technophile.)

  • Illegal P2P software isn't going anywhere anytime soon and that is is the only way anyone would consider a legal P2P. What baffles me is who puts money into these things? Which ever financial advisers told people to invest in these services should lose their license (do they they even have licenses?) The only way something like this could possible last long enough to take off is if it had a rich parent (Microsoft/AOL) to cover the losses over the years (and years) that it would take to finally become profitable. Launching these services with small startups is simple insane.
  • The article states that these files will not play on MP3 players because the portable devices cannot run the decryption software required to "activate" the content.

    However, when you play the file on your PC, you're generating an audio stream. Couldn't you just redirect that into an audio input and record in some format or other such as .wav and then recode to a normal MP3 file?

    This stuff appears fairly trivial to work around.

    Chris.
    • However, when you play the file on your PC, you're generating an audio stream. Couldn't you just redirect that into an audio input and record in some format or other such as .wav and then recode to a normal MP3 file?

      This is the essense of Microsoft's Secure Audio Path [microsoft.com]. This tech basically makes it so that "controlled" content does not play on non secure drivers (i.e. Total Recorder [highcriteria.com] which does more or less what you are saying). The Register had an article on Microsoft's control of the securing technology, and it's hope of keeping Real from using it.

      So in the long view this is not a concern, though it does mean that presently there is no hope for real security.

    • > However, when you play the file on your PC, you're generating an audio stream. Couldn't you just redirect that into an audio input and record in some format or other such as .wav and then recode to a normal MP3 file?

      1) You could, but it's a felony under DMCA. Circumvention of a copy control mechanism.

      2) You might not be able to. MSFT's "Secure Audio Path" is a step in the direction of locking down the hardware. (Under CBDTPA, this will be mandatory.)

      3) Even if you could ("could" in the legal sense and and the sense of any technical crippling imposed by your operating system), you wouldn't want to. It'd be like saving a .JPG file as a .JPG - the encoding to MP3 is lossy, and you'd lose quality.

      (This is, of course, the goal of the Content Cartel -- to make your computer, which is a device based on the principle that bits are infinitely reproducible, work like a cassette tape made of atoms which are not reproducible.)

  • The rreal problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brogdon ( 65526 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @11:25AM (#3234506) Homepage
    The real tragedy in all of this is that the music studios are going to release these crappy, restricted music download services for probably the next year or so. No one's going to use them because of the extra rules they impose (like the 200 track max - who wants their music collection limited to twenty CDs?) and their proprietary formats that won't go onto a CD or mp3 portable. They'll fail like Circuit City's DivX did, not because there's anything wrong with the concept, people just won't want to deal with the hassle of managing when their songs "expire" or which one they have to delete to make room for the new N'Sync single.

    The record labels are then going to go to Congress and say "Look, we tried letting these people download music, but the thieves won't use them. We have to have draconian legislation and internet police in order to keep our disgustingly fat and corrupt industry alive!". Congress will examine their campaign funds, find a way to slip RIAA money past McCain-Feingold, and pass the law.

    I bet they've got this entire plan in an MS Project file at RIAA headquarters.
    • 200 track max - who wants their music collection limited to twenty CDs?

      You have fallen victim to another of the recording industy's fictions. 200 tracks can generally fit on 11 or 12 CD's - without compression. And they will fit on 2 or 3 CD's in MP3 (or similar) format. You might be able to squeeze them onto one CD if you use crappy streaming audio quality.

      The internet music services are using MP3 or similar format, so a subscription entitles you to 2 or 3 CD's worth of actual data in any given month.

      -
  • I work extensively with streaming media, specifically with RealNetwork's line of software. Each of us in my office hates the clients, RealPlayer and especially RealOne. We are considering alternatives despite the fact that our system (we encode & archive in real time an entire legislative body's general assembly including committee meetings and chambers) is designed around Real software.

    RealNetwork's playbook is simple: how can we leverage our users with the software we produce. Real software is designed to guide users toward their services more than they are designed to satisfy users' A/V Jones.

    I think the viability and interest in streaming media is yet to be realized though. Bandwidth, greed, and poorly written software are problems. I think Ogg Vorbis is a step in the right direction on the audio side. If the same progress can be made on the video side, and we can open up streaming media for good natured developers (read: open source authors), then I think streaming media could be a lot of fun.

  • by qurob ( 543434 )
    Protection gets broken

    users won't pay

    nothing new
  • The article was a bit light on nitty gritty details, like how much do credits cost.
    If a burn credit is not too expensive (i.e. cheap enough that you don't mind paying for the song) then simply burn all the music you want to keep, then rip the CD into MP3s.
    All this nonsense about restricting downloads and downloads expiring is simply a way of making things a tad inconvenient.
    Don't insult our intelligence by creating these poxy restrictions that you hope will stop us owning the music we pay for.
    What we need is a system that offers 30 second MP3s free, and then charges you per song for those that you choose to download the full version of. This works a treat for Songplayer [songplayer.co.uk] with their song files. Why can't it work for digital music?
    • You're wrong. The pricing plans are laid out quite clearly in the reviews; the real problem is that they are both very high and horribly inflexible.

      As he pointed out in the article, you could easily use up all the credits offered on even the most expensive plan with less than a day of intense browsing.

      D
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @12:13PM (#3234577) Homepage
    Let me see... I can either have limited downloads in a proprietary, non-burnable format that explodes if I ever unsubscribe... Or I can unlimited downloads in MP3 format that I can burn, put on multiple machines, and keep forever. Think, think, think...

    Seriously, Emusic kicks all three of these services' asses. Kicks them, gives them wedgies, then sends them home to their rich parents crying. Sure, you don't have the big-name lables, but you have tons of small ones. And the unlimited-download model lets you experiment with every band you've never heard of. Having used this to find Front Line Assembly more than makes up for the lack of Massive Attack.

    I wonder why Emusic wasn't in the running? I'd give it a 4/5, myself.
    • Absolutely. The price is right, the selection is pretty wide, and while there aren't all the big names in pop, that's fine with me; I've gotten to know some really cool, lesser-known artists that I otherwise wouldn't have.

      I recommend Emusic to anyone.

    • I was looking around the emusic site.. couldn't find any talk about what the client runs on though. Is it exclusively windows?
      • That's the beauty... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chris Burke ( 6130 )
        There IS no client! You download music off their site with your favorite web browser, and that's it. You login, you download, you listen to MP3's.

        Though to get the neat feature of 1-click album downloads, you need to have Freeamp installed (Win, Unix ports, don't know about Mac). You can use anything as your player, Freeamp is only needed for downloading whole albums.
    • I tried it for the week, and I liked the concept (pure MP3s) and some of the bands (They Might Be Giants, Apples in Stereo), but I found the service lacking.

      First, the quality of the MP3s was poor. 128 kbps has a little too much distortion for me to want to pay for. Second, there wasn't enough music to keep me around for the 3 month minimum.

      I think they have the makings of a good service, but it's not quite there now.
  • The Real A/V formats may not have been the best thing in the world, but they did work and were very widely distributed. With the final release of RealOne, the standard Real Player seems to have disappeared from the Real download site.

    So now I have to pay a fee per month so that Real can track my usage of (bona fide) free A/V material? Yeah, right.

    sPh

  • I don't know if any other of you took notice of this line:

    They'll just use the illegal P2P software that gives them access to everything instead.

    Apparently the brainwashing to convince people that P2P software is illegal is spreading, forgetting that what is illegal is the action of copying without authorization, not the existence of P2P software....
  • when I pay for content, I intend to use it how I want with in legal copyright law. if I pay for an MP3 I want to burn it to CD, and keep it for ever. these services do not let you do that.

    the limited DLs does not bother me as much as the control over how I use it and the fact that I still do not own the file after I pay for it.

    my god, a simple solution to this is to offer a $5 per month subscripton that lets you DL 20 songs, then after than, you pay 30 cents per song. you get unrestricted burning access, can keep them for ever, but can only transmit them from downloading computer to a device like an MP3 player, you can not up load the MP3 to another device from the player unless it is the original PC, and you can not upload to the internet.

    that I can live with. that is fair and disuades the casual infringers (the ones who do it but do not realise it is wrong and will give up when it does not work)

    to bad the RIAA is stupid.
  • FUD? (Score:3, Informative)

    by room101 ( 236520 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @12:19PM (#3234642) Homepage
    This is a pretty good article, but one thing really caught my eye:

    About me:
    Let's get this out of the way up-front: I'm a pirate. Two years ago I ripped my 270 CDs to MP3 and pawned them to get a bigger hard drive. With my Cambridge SoundWorks speakers, SoundBlaster Live and MusicMatch Jukebox, my computer surpassed my stereo's phatness of sound. Bye bye boombox; no more physical media. P2P file-sharing (new at the time) made the analog-digital conversion that much sweeter.

    I now have about 200 Gigs of digital content with components that wirelessly send audio and video (divx) out to my surround system and TV. I love my digital media. For me and many others, there's no turning back.

    So he says he's "a pirate", but all he says is that he ripped his CDs for personal use. I don't see anywhere that he runs a FTP server to "share" the music or has uploaded to napster in the past, or anything that would take that music collection beyond personal use.

    He does say: P2P file-sharing (new at the time) made the analog-digital conversion that much sweeter. But it isn't clear if he used P2P to get music that he didn't own, his main point is that he has MP3'ed (my word) his music collection. Perhaps he downloaded some of the music he had on CD via P2P, that is a grey area, but not hard-core piracy.

    This seems to me that he has bought into the FUD that the music labels are spreading: (rip, mix, burn) == (music piracy). And that is simply not true. (or at least not proven/held up in a court of law)
    • But he said that he sold his CDs (to buy a bigger HD), and kept the ripped files, so that would make him a pirate I guess.
    • The key I see here is that he pawned them off without deleting his copies, and that might not be good...

      Now if he had said he was a pirate because he has ripped all his CDs to mp3 without indicating he sold the CDs or distributed the music, then we would see a sad artifact of the RIAA fud about customer rights...

      Also, the P2P file sharing mention indicates sharing, and I seriously wonder if his divx content is from the net or from DVD...

      Of course, not saying this is as bad as bootleggers, but still could be considered piracy legitimately...
      • Yeah, and to be a good boy he has to not REMEMBER the songs if he sells his CDs ;)

        No, wait, he can remember them but he has to remember them WRONG.

        No, wait, if that was OK then keeping mp3s of the music would be OK, because that is certainly remembering the CD tracks wrong- in some cases like with the Xing encoder, severely wrong. So he can't remember the tunes at all.

        Next up, Captain Cyborg has his brain ripped out by RIAA security guards because he is remembering CDs he sold, and can't give a good answer on where he stops and his implants begin...

    • Re:FUD? (Score:3, Informative)

      Sorry, while I generally disagree with the RIAA, this guy *is* pirating.

      Read this line.

      ago I ripped my 270 CDs to MP3 and pawned them to get a bigger hard drive

      That means he kept the MP3s and sold the CDs. That's wrong. Ripping for personal use is fine, but in theory he is violating copyright by keeping the MP3s and selling the originals.
    • Correction:
      In the first sentence, he sez "Two years ago I ripped my 270 CDs to MP3 and pawned them to get a bigger hard drive."

      Where I come from, pawning is selling something you have for quick cash, which he apparently then used to buy the hard drive.
    • He pawned his CDs, which is an odd expression - did he borrow money off them and get them back later, or did he lose them in the pawn?

      If he lost them, he is a pirate if he still listened to their contents. If he pledged them to borrow money for a larger hard drive, and then redeemed them from pawn, then what he's done is in fact perfectly legal as far as I can tell.

      Hope that helps clarify things.

      D

      PS If he pawned the CDs and lost them by not paying back the loan, that was pretty dumb. Pawnshops normally loan about half the value of the item, so it was a bad move for him indeed.
    • But he ripped his CD's and pawned them.

      It would be like copying software and returning it to the store. Copying your movie collection and selling it makes it illegal.

      (rip, mix, burn)!=(music piracy)
      (rip, resell) !=(music piracy)

      The worst part is that he may have made money on this transaction. While getting a file from your favorite P2P maybe illegal because of a silly law it may not be immoral. I think if you are using P2P to make money then you are doing something very wrong.

      I support P2P, I don't support abuse. I don't support people making money off of the Artists. That is supposedly the fear of the RIAA, but we know they care about the bottom line only.

      Did this guy do this? He did buy the CD's first, but he kept a copy when he sold them. Digital copies. That violates Fair Use, considering it's obviously not 'fair'.

      You decide.
  • New Plot: The galactic Empire is upset about these rebels who use the Galactic Internet to illegally swap music and video. See what we never knew was teh Jedi's were just a bunch of mp3 pirates... Now with Clone troopers to defend the artists right, no illegally aquired mp3 will EVER be listened to again! In the later movies the rebels will forcefully aquire there right to trade music freely... see ROTJ etc
  • Enough! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Asprin ( 545477 )
    It occurs to me as I read this, that the RIAA is not interested in making this work.

    I think their real goal is to pay lip service to the online crowd and the DOJ by presenting an option no sane digital dude(ette) would pay for, then they can claim "...sorry,just can't make it work!" and get back to raising CD prices and doing things the old-fashioned way.

    This has probably been stated before, but the Feds are investigating the wrong end of this. While the RIAA can hardly be described as a monopoly, this is CERTAINLY collusion: We have a small number of competitors in an exclusive business conspiring in a way to eliminate competition and fix prices. I doesn't matter how many Napster/RealOne subscription front-ends are on the system, the license structures have been set to make this unattractive. Real and Napster are stupid for even TRYING to play ball.

    The fact is that the RIAA (like the telcos with ISDN and broadband and MS with virtually everyone else that writes software) wants this to go away and they're willing to flush a lot of $$ down the john to make it happen. There are really only three things that will stop this nonsense:

    DOJ Breaks up RIAA (and MPAA for that matter)

    Artists stop signing away their rights and produce "the stuff" themselves

    We stop sending money to Hollywood and live without "the stuff"

    • Re:Enough! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > We stop sending money to Hollywood and live without "the stuff"

      Amen.

      Thanks to un-crippled MP3s, I've been exploring increasingly-obscure electro/industrial/techno stuff. Shit, this week alone, I've discovered Dorsetshire [onego.ru], Dynamix II [dynamixii.com], and Industrial Artz [cent.com].

      (Actually, I think I remember Industrial Artz' "Powertrip", having heard it once on radio some 10 years ago and thinking "Wow, sampling Led Zep's Kashmir, that takes balls!". Naturally, it was radio, so I never found out who they were until last night when I said "Holy fuck! I remember looking for this CD 10 years ago and everyone in the record shops thought I was nuts!")

      It looks like Dorsetshire and Industrial Artz vanished some 8-10 years ago, and there's no way to send 'em a few bones, but if I'm ever in Florida, I'll be checking out Dynamix II, live. And I'll be buying CDs - but I'll be buying them at the show, and/or tipping them directly.

      Fuck RIAA. We don't need them anymore. The more of us realize that fact, the less power they'll have over us. The less power they have over us, eventually, the less power they'll have over our legislators.

    • No, it's not a monopoly. It's called an oligopoly. There can be no doubt from any sane person that this is what it is.

      Second, you might want to add something like:

      RIAA: "See, nobody wants legitimate, pay for use downloads. They only want free stuff. We tried to offer them what they asked for."

      IOW, make your point very direct, by putting words in Hilary Rosen/Jack Valenti's mouth.

      The last option (stop sending Hollywood money) is the most likely of three highly unlikely scenarios to happen. Problem is, even people motivated to do that (people here on Slashdot) are too awed by the new LOTR disc to bother.

      I've boycotted Universal. The last half of this journal [slashdot.org] is about it. Just one movie studio. And it is a serious pain in the butt. Very serious. It's not as easy as many would like to pretend. Not if you are a fan of the stuff.

  • For me, the an online digital music service should have these features. 1) Pay a small fee per song, no monthly subscription fee. 2) Don't force me to use Windoze or Mac to use your service 3) The digital music format should be something that can be played on many devices and players. 4) No self-destructing music formats.
  • I still like the older version of RealPlayer 8 Basic. I saw RealOne in action once and decided that I would rather be castrated with a dull butter knive that use the software. You should pick up a copy of the older versions before they change their minds and stop offering it to the public: http://proforma.real.com/real/player/blackjack.htm l [real.com]
  • One thing with RealOne is that they will let you sign up online but won't let you cancel online! You sons of bitches at Real kept me on the line for forty five minutes and I know this wasn't an accident.

    Real totally lost respect with me on this one - I felt like I was caught up in some low-rent scam, and I expected an easier exit strategy from a company that is trying to compete with Microsoft.

    This of course besides the obvious fact that the service itself totally sucked - the only thing keeping most people from dropping it is the total hassle of having to phone and wait for someone at Real to cancel you.

  • Gee let's limit 5% of the consumer market. Instead of looking at market share let's look at raw numbers there are 26 million Mac users worldwide. If each one buys a single CD at $15 that works out to $390 million dollars. Either way, even if they had a Mac client, I would not use the service because it plain out sucks.
  • In theory, I agree. Unfortunately, it appears the vast majority of consumers are extremely stupid. RealOne already has 500,000 subscribers (according to that review, anyways). 500,000!

    How did they get so many subscribers? Honestly who would subscribe to such a shitty, limiting, way-too-expensive-for-what-you-get service like this? Apparently there's half a million of them. That really just makes me sick...
    • Five-hundred thousand.... SUBSCRIBERS? Are you sure they didn't mean "Downloaders"? That *can't* be right, can it?

      UGH!
    • But, I would like to know how many subscribers they have that actually make it past the 14 day trial period? Some idiots will pay to try anything once. But, 6 months down the road they get sick of it and cancel their service. I know morons who ended up buying the pro version of Real Player because they were too stupid to find the "Click Here for the free version of Real Player Basic" link.

      Let's wait about a year and check these numbers again. Real will be lucky if they can keep 100,000 people who are willing to pay for this lame-ass service. But, the thing that scares me about Real is the deals they are signing with Mobile phone manufacturers [realnetworks.com]. In the future will I be forced to buy a Nokia phone with "RealOne" on it? What if I don't want this software installed on my phone? Can I uninstall it? Be afraid.... be very afraid.

  • 200? No Problem. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomdarch ( 225937 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @12:44PM (#3234752)

    If the target market is the people who listen to top 40 radio, then they only need about 50 active songs at a time - after all normal commercial radio programs those 50 songs and rotates the crap out of them. The corporation that owns the radio station says you only need to hear 50 songs, that's all you need to hear. The corporation that owns the music says you only need to hear 200 songs, then that's all you need to hear.

    It reminds me of a commercial from the mid 80s. It was supposed to be a Soviet fashon show - a stocky older woman walked up and down a catwalk wearing the same overalls while a Russian-accented announcer said "Is Eveningwear", "Is Swim Wear" and so on. The point was that in the "Free World" we have many choices, while in the "Communist World" you get what the oligarchy offers you. So we beat the awful Communists, now the corporate oligarchy offers us a choice of 40 movies and 200 songs. Hurray! Victory!

    • No, you have a choice, and it's to not listen to shitty mainstream radio. Listen to college radio, or if you don't have it, one of the myriad indie internet radio stations. The fact that you can't be bothered to find alternatives does not mean there is no choice.

      I would really appreciate it if all the people who whined about the RIAA all the time would stop paying for their legal departments by buying crappy over-produced cds for $20 a pop.
      • Come to my house. I'll feed you dinner. Then try to find a radio station just like you described.

        Doesn't exist. Or, at least, I can't get it.

        My choice is Top 40, Adult Contemporary, Christian Rock, or talk radio. I choose various forms of the latter. (Pacifica, Sports Junkies, NPR, and G. Gordon Liddy. ALL forms of the latter.)
    • It was supposed to be a Soviet fashon show - a stocky older woman walked up and down a catwalk wearing the same overalls while a Russian-accented announcer said "Is Eveningwear"
      Yeah, I remember that one. For the beach wear, the "model" had a beach ball, and for the evening wear, she had a flashlight...
  • there is almost no chance that napster will be re-released in the nearest future. the new owner, bertelsmann, still argues with the music industry. they say the branch "napster" is much more important than the product that it once was. bertelsmann spend several millon on napster, but even if they fail to re-release, they say the marketing was worth it.

    this toy is not suitable for global players.
  • First the guy calls himself a pirate because he rips his CDs onto his computer. Wrong
    Second, he calls P2P software illegal. Wrong.

    He must have purchased a copy of the RIAA's Dictionary of Commercial English.
  • When 23% of surveyed music consumers say they are not buying more music because they are downloading or copying their music for free,

    That same survey also showed 25% of respondents buying MORE music because they are downloading or copying music for free.

  • if shutting down Napster and other P2P clients is making RIAA's user-base into criminals, these services are their parole or house-arrest.

    When Napster came out it was a way for you to hear that really cool new song. A way to sample the music you buy, without having to filter through the much on the radio. And the recording industry's sales went up because people were more inclined to buy what they'd listened to.

    Now, RIAA's made it clear that their enemy is anyone who shares music online. They fired the first shot by biting the hand that was just beginning to feed them. Now the same people who were browsing through downloads and buying at Tower are burning not buying. Because they're angry with RIAA and they feel the record industry is out to get them. No wonder RIAA's sales are down (although , probably not as much as they say, RIAA's cooked up some phony numbers before), though it has very little to do with P2P file-sharing.

    If the record industry really wants to shut down Morpheus they could offer the following service.

    • Monthly fee for a flat bps download (scalable of course).
    • Download to MP3.
    • The file is yours to do with as you please.
    • Distribution and sale would be illegal, but copying to other machines for your personal use would be okay. (MP3 format would make that pretty difficult to enforce anyway).
    • And, of course, a vast selection of high-quality, always available tracks.


    Sharing would be rampant, but it already is. RIAA wouldn't be losing anything even if the whole thing fell through. But it probably wouldn't.

    Too bad I don't have millions of dollars and my dad isn't the head of Sony Music.

    Sweat
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2002 @01:23PM (#3235076) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to find independent, non-RIAA music. Preferably, I'd like to pay the artists directly, although I don't mind buying the music from a non-RIAA organization.

    Can anybody recommend any good sites or search tips?

    If enough people are expressing their desire to have nothing to do with the RIAA directly to the RIAA (i.e. email them...) then they cannot call for Gov't support when they fail. "We had no idea people would hate that we tried to take their rights away!".

    They can blame MP3's for the bad economy last year if they want, but they'll have a hard time blaming people for saying 'your service sucks, we're off to find somebody else.'

  • Second, even though you're paying for their content, they are restricting how you can use it/burn it, and it won't play on an MP3 player. The point of digital media is convenience, and MP3s that you can only play on your computer just aren't convenient.

    And that is basically the point. In essence they demand a huge fee, while providing only very limited use. If they don't alter their business model it's doomed (and will only serve them to blame that on "pirates" again).

    For me one quality of good music is, that i want to hear it again. These services (especially realone) introduce pay-per-listen schemes that may be real cheap for crap music you can't even stand 30 seconds of, but for something really good you'd like to hear often it's expensive, and after all the paying you own exactly nothing (in the case of realone).

    When i buy music i want to own it. i want to hear it whereever and whenever i like to from a device of my choice, and i don't want to be concerned about a meter running out my bankaccount.
  • > Two years ago I ripped my 270 CDs to MP3
    > and pawned them to get a bigger hard drive.

    I hope this will the first in a series for Slashdot, to be followed by:

    - cable TV pirates on the new pay-per-view options for HBO
    - shoplifters on the new Spring 2002 fashions
    - old, curmudgeony phone phreaks on the new "designer" collect-calling plans
  • From the review:


    • You can't burn more than two tracks per artist per month. (...) Want to make a mixed Radiohead CD? Too bad. You can't.
    • If you unsubscribe, all of the tracks you've downloaded to date deactivate themselves and become unplayable.
    • You can't burn tracks that you download from RealOne, even though RealOne has music burning software built in.
    • If you unsubscribe, your music commits suicide.


    Man, what a deal! I get to pay through the nose for tracks I can't do anything with and when I cancel, I get a nice ass raping to boot! Where do I sign up???
  • For the first time, I'm going to excommunicate a product.

    I'm completely sick of Real One bugging me with those popups in the lower right hand corner of my Windows desktop. And when I disabled them, later it came back again with more popups telling me it is time to upgrade. I'm sick of its oh-so-helpful communications and I am through with them.

    I hope this new 'helpfulness' they've put into their product will drive them into the ground. For the first time, I'm cheering for Microsoft when it comes to media players. (At least Microsoft doesn't require me to purchase an additional player to get "high end" content.) Not that I'm a friend of Microsoft either.

    Yet another example of why we can't trust corporations to stream us video. Embrace open protocols, folks.

!07/11 PDP a ni deppart m'I !pleH

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