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Music 20 Cents a Track in India 346

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the cheap-tunes dept.
xzap writes "Indiatimes.com , an Indian portal is now offering "International Chart-Busting" music for download legally at Rs 10 (20 cents U.S) a song. They say they (through a partner) have tied up with music labels like BMG, EMI, Warner, Tips, Times Music, Lahari, Enrico Hindustan (which is the oldest catalogue of HMV) and Archies Music "." I still believe that if the bigs let us download MP3s for a quarter a track, we'd do it.
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Music 20 Cents a Track in India

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  • I'm sure that the record companies will give in eventually.
    When a business model fails, it is not the government's responsability to make laws to sustain it. There might be a temporary period with a oush for that with lobbying $$, but it'll stop eventually. New marets will open, and purchasing music online will take over.
    • by Big Sean O (317186) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:33AM (#3350601)
      "When a business model fails, it is not the government's responsability to make laws to sustain it."

      Robert Heinlein, I had no idea you were still alive...

      "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back." -- Robert Heinlein

    • "When a business model fails, it is not the government's responsability to make laws to sustain it."

      I see this argument over and over again in the copyright-related threads, and it irks me. The laws are designed to combat something that is already illegal.

      Awhile ago, the government came out and said something to the effect of, "Okay, we're creating this copyright thing. Yes, it's essentially a legal fiction (then again, so are currency and government), but we think it's good. Basically, we'll reward people who devote time, effort, money, and talent to creating information-based works by giving them a time-limited exclusive control over that work."

      Now in the interim, we've had the government do stupid things related to copyright, such as the Sonny Bono Act and the DMCA. However, that doesn't change the underlying principle that people who venture into the business of creating works for commercial sale are doing so because the government has created an artificial system that allows them compensation.

      When it comes to P2P music sharing, the problem isn't that it's invented a new loophole that isn't covered by copyright. Instead, the problem is that it's a new form of massive copyright violation that's nearly impossible to prosecute on an individual basis. When something's already illegal, (allegedly) massively cuts into sales, and unstoppable, that's not a failing of the business model, per se.

      Anyway, getting back to the point of the article, it looks like an interesting idea. I'm honestly curious to see whether or not it succeeds. It's a service offering cheap, legitimate equivalents to what's already available free on P2P services.

      • I'll grant you that the situation is somewhat unique. The car analogy (ban the car, the horse whip makers are all going out of business!) can't be applied here.

        However, it's safe to say the VHS argument can. The movie industry makes a metric tonne of money off of video sales every year. In the early 80's, video was heralded as the Death of Hollywood. Hollywood looks rather not-dead to me.

        The medium is changing again. People like their music in files. We'd like to purchase it that way too, but the industry won't let us, so we get it for free elsewhere.

        I would say a business model that nobody wants to support is a dying one, wouldn't you? Sorta like selling ads on the Internet, really. Nobody wants them, people go out of their way to get bypass the business model, and businesses die because of it. This isn't because people are bad, its because the business model is unrealistic.
        • "In the early 80's, video was heralded as the Death of Hollywood. Hollywood looks rather not-dead to me."

          I still don't think it's the same thing. There's a noticeable quality difference between watching a video and going to see a movie -- even the most unobservant viewer would be hard-pressed not to notice the giant movie screen. mp3s, on the other hand, come much closer to CD quality. Overall, I'd say a better analogy set would be: Theatrical movie release ~= Concert; Video/DVD ~= Tape/CD; mp3 ~= DivX ;-)

          Furthermore, the DIY crowd has had no problem getting legitimate mp3s (at least until the recent copy protection uproar). Personally, I just pop CDs that I own into my CD player and then run a script that handles all the effort of identifying the artist/tracks with CDDB, ripping the CD with cdparanoia, and finally encoding the music with LAME. I got what I wanted, and I paid for it.

          Instead, the problem is in rampant duplication. Yes, if I'm patient, if I have 2 VCRs, and if I can bypass Macrovision, I can make a copy of a tape for a friend. It happens, but it's small scale. There's also something of a quality degredation issue after a few generations.

          With mp3s, on the other hand, people have the resources available to trade them far and wide. A 50th generation copy of an mp3 is identical to the original mp3 (provided you don't reencode it). Also, P2P lets me share it with hundreds of thousands of my closest friends.

          I dunno. It just seems that there's no clear win for the music industry in this scenario. Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. But I don't think it's the same situation as before.

    • Imagine connecting your mp3 player to a vending likee machine and downloading the song of your choice for 25 cents, it might just work as a business model.

      of course record companies are too stupid to change their business model
  • They could go for volume, but I'd rather pay 5 cents a track. And the option to "return" them if it's not what I want.
    • They could go for volume, but I'd rather pay 5 cents a track. And the option to "return" them if it's not what I want.

      As if three or four songs by a given artist wouldn't tell you whether or not to keep downloading them. You'd demand the right to return an item that cost you $0.05 to purchase in the first place? What are you going to do, download their entire library and send back everything you don't like?
    • Umm... $0.25 is pretty small. That would be $3.75 for a 15 song CD. I would hope that they would give 10 - 20 second "samples" but $0.25 per song is not bad at all!
  • $0.25 a track?

    I'd definitely be in for that shit. Screw kazaa and the myriad of hidden programs inside of it.
  • Soundbuzz (Score:5, Informative)

    by proxybyproxy (561395) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:16AM (#3350411)
    Although not mentioned in the article (why?), the site is already up at Soundbuzz.com [soundbuzz.com]
    • Re:Soundbuzz (Score:3, Informative)

      by twodiddyliddy (574077)
      The site crapped when searching for songs (asp timeout), and besides it's napster ripoff logo, it seems like the real thing.

      A google search [google.com] did come up with a lot of mirrors for "Soundbuzz - The Digital Music Revolution" (Christ, what a .com slogan)
      www.channelv.com/ferhad/
      hk.soundbuzz.ly cosasia.com/
      www.geocities.com/truly1206/tru9913. htm
      ip is: http://203.126.135.171/
      (looks like a basement project :)

      Anyway, I got this to work:
      http://203.126.135.171/freedownload.asp but when trying to actually get a file, it was not available.

      .... which would explain them not linking to soundbuzz in the article.
  • They are doing this in India because they can make more money there by selling the tracks cheaply than overcharging horrendously, as they do in rich countries where they can get away wih it.

    If they did something like this in America, I would use it. I would very gladly use it if the monet wet to the musicians via FairTunes (FairTracks?), without the big record companies and the RIAA getting their cut of the loot.

    • The record companies do deserve a cut. Not what they take now, definitely but they put up money, resources and time. They have to recoup the moeny spent for the artist to record, produce, manufacture and advertise. They have to pay the A&R people and the tour managers and producers. Then they also have to turn a profit to keep going.

      I completely agree that major labels suck. They take massive cuts, only push certain bands and sneak in lots of bad terms in contracts. However you should get paid for what you do.
  • If I could buy a quality MP3 of a song for .25, store it forever, and burn it to my own CD's for personal use, I'd do it. I'd even let them tack on a "protection device" to prevent me from letting others use the copy (of course, no reasonable device yet exists, but all things in time). Instead, @$20 for a CD that all too often contains 50% or more mediocre content. Hmmmm...wonder which plan will eventually win??
    • To protect it from copying would require that your PC have hardware to prevent any unauthorized copying. (Well, even that would only stop the honest citizens, not criminals). Don't under any circumstances let them get their foot in the door to controlling what content you watch on your PC. Before you know it, they'll restrict you from downloading 'unapproved' music, movies and programs and you'll be force-fed nothing but corporate America, all the time.
    • "If I could buy a quality MP3 of a song for .25, store it forever, and burn it to my own CD's for personal use, I'd do it."

      I'm not sure the U.S. price would be that low. It's 10 Rs (20 cents) for an Indian mp3, but the regular CD there costs 250 Rs ($5). So if the prices are proportional, it'd be 50-60 cents per song here.

  • by Burgundy Advocate (313960) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:19AM (#3350434) Homepage
    You have to remember something about this:

    There's a huge difference between 25 cents here and 25 cents in India. The average income is much lower.

    For instance, 25 cents in India could equate to around $4.00 there.

    Now do you really want to pay four bucks a track? $40.00+ per CD?

    I didn't think so.

    • For instance, 25 cents in India could equate to around $4.00 there.

      Now do you really want to pay four bucks a track? $40.00+ per CD?


      Well, by your logic, real CDs would "cost" $240, so I guess $40 would seem like a bargain.
    • For instance, 25 cents in India could equate to around $4.00 there.

      The average income may be lower, but the difference is not that steep.
      Look at it this way: a typical CD costs Rupees 200; and the cost per song is Rs 10 (or, 1/25 the cost of the CD). Use the same formula here (US), where a typical CD costs $15, and the cost per song works out to $0.60.
    • by SkyLeach (188871) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:48AM (#3350724) Homepage
      "You have to remember something about this:

      There's a huge difference between 25 cents here and 25 cents in India. The average income is much lower.

      For instance, 25 cents in India could equate to around $4.00 there.

      Now do you really want to pay four bucks a track? $40.00+ per CD?"


      found here [slashdot.org]
      and

      "Rs = Roupees, current exchange rate is about 1 dollar = 49 Roupees.

      Studies vary, but the "average" family income in India works out at about $450 per year."
      found here [slashdot.org]

      Very interesting and informative here. Proves price fixing doesn't it? You see, if the cost/person in Indea compaired to their income is the same as the cost/person in America compared to our income and the cost in the UK/person comapred to their income all work out to about the same rate, then we know they are fixing prices globaly.

      I think that 10 Rp to an Indian making $450/year works out at about 22,050 Rp. That means an average income equivalant to the US, about $20k/year/citizen.

      IANA Economist, but I would love to know if Indians are having to pay the same amount of their salary for music as Americans would have to pay for their music.
      • Is not about the average income. Its about the income of the folks who have internet access. About a million or so people (vaguely rememever some surveys from NUA) have internet access and even fewer are accessing the 'net from home or a location where they could download and collect the MP3s.

        Bottom line is that the median income of the folks with Internet access is well above the average income of the total population.
    • India is a vast country with a huge difference between the rich and the poor. It is not unusual in India for a wealthy family to have a maid, a cook a driver and a nanny. (btw, the driver usually takes the bus to work! imagine that!)

      The target market for music is probably not the driver the maid and the nanny. The target market is the wealthy Indians who make a significant amount of money. For these people spending a few rupees on a MP3 download isn't all that bad.

      The group of servants probably cannot even afford a computer let alone internet access and an MP3 on top of all that!

    • A CD from Sony/Virgin/BMG etc in India costs [fabmart.com] between $8 and $12, more for double-CD packs/rare CDs/etc. They sell well, too, among the upper middle income group (which is huuge in India, thanks to a 1e9+ population. A lot of middle and lower income groups still prefer cassettes, though, which are between $1.x and $2.x. Still, Rs 100 for 10 songss ($2.x) doesn't sound too bad. But I'm really afraid their selection will suck ... too much Top 40 and Pop trash. Let's see, am off to check it out.

      Note: One dollar ~ Rs 49.
    • The minimum wage from different areas of India varies, but is usually stated around 2,000 Rs. per month. In reality, most folks are paid about half that. At 49:1 exchange, that comes to $489 U.S., or in the range of other numbers given here.

      Museum admission (for Indians) was 5 Rs. when I was there (50 Rs. for us westerners), and meals at restaurants wound up being 8-25 Rs. per person. So roughly 1 Rs. equals $1 U.S. in what it'll buy.

      That comparison breaks down quickly, though. Petrol was 25 Rs./liter when I was there (January, 2000), and electronics and internet access seemed to be a straight ($1 * exchange rate) conversion. The commercially produced cassette tapes of Hindi songs sold for about 60 Rs, for a price comparison.

      While 10 Rs. is cheap by American terms, it's pricey by Indian terms. I think the U.S. would settle on $3/track, which would kill the service, intead of $1/track, which would generate revenue and business.
    • I think this post just requires a one word answer:

      Duh!
  • Someone's doing something right! It's about time they attempted a business model that's more in line with the price/times.

    One can only hope that this doesn't fall flat on its face. I'd hate to see this service cancelled because the record companies scream too much about 'lost revenue' due to trades/etc. But from the few details in the article, they have a decent business model set up.

    Having said all that, there are still alot of questions that need answering. The article's short on technical details. I'd love to hear from someone who's familiar with the business. What format will the songs be in? Have they come up with a proprietary file type? How'd they manage to get the record companies to agree? How do they control who gets to download the music (ie - can I download from their site even though I'm not in India) ?

    I'd be very interested in statistics on usage, downloads, burn rate, etc. This is going to be a fun one to track.
    • Some sample returns (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mblase (200735)
      I'd be very interested in statistics on usage, downloads, burn rate, etc. This is going to be a fun one to track.

      Search For smash mouth in Artist Names [Search]
      No matches found....
      Search For madonna in Artist Names [Search]
      No matches found....
      (Maybe if I search for "All Star" or "Lucky Star" individually....)
      Search For star in Song Titles [Search]
      25 Results from: Atari Teenage Riot, James Taylor Quartet, Double Vision, Patric Catani...

      Clearly the major record labels are giving Soundbuzz.com nowhere near their entire collections of music. At this price, I'm reasonably certain they never will. Nothing to see here, folks.
  • you can actualy use this from the US. perhaps the recording industry will see how much cash they will get from having unrestricted MP3s sold for 20 cents and say "hmmm perhaps we have had it all wrong from the start."
  • They steal culture from people, suck the life out of it, shrink-wrap it and sell it back to those who created it in the first place.

    I'd pay 20 cents a download if I knew the money was going to artists and not to Virgin or BMG or whatever.

  • Please understand that most all of the costs in this situation are sunk costs and that the buying power of 10 RS in India is perhaps equivalent to $2.50 USD or more. It is not really so different to what would be charged in the U.S.
  • Blowing smoke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NiftyNews (537829) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:22AM (#3350476) Homepage
    "I still believe that if the bigs let us download MP3s for a quarter a track, we'd do it."

    Don't delude yourself. As long as something is free, people won't pay for it. The only correlary is that some people will pay more for convienience. But again, be serious...if you bought more than one or two albums worth of songs each week it would STILL be money you don't have for beer. Free is always cheaper than cheap for most people.
    • The only correlary is that some people will pay more for convenience.

      Legitimate music download services such as eMusic [emusic.com] and the one that this article mentions provide more convenience than Gnutella, KaZaA, and WinMX in two big ways:

      • The downloads work over HTTP and thus work better over connections that severely throttle non-RFC-defined services, such as the router on Rose-Hulman [rose-hulman.edu]'s T1s.
      • Three nines availability. There is negligible risk of "Connection reset by peer" ... Resume ... "User offline".
      • by pomakis (323200) <pomakis@pobox.com> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @12:08PM (#3350924) Homepage
        I can think of a very important third benefit as well. Most of the MP3s I've downloaded over the internet have been really crappy encodings. Even at 192kbps, whatever encoder the average joe uses seems to do a really lousy job! I would think that a legitimate service would provide high-quality encodings (perhaps using the Fraunhofer codec), complete with proper ID3 tags, etc. I would consider this a great convenience, because I hate having to download something 10 times from 10 different sources and then analyzing each of them to figure out which is the best. To me, that's well worth 25 cents (or even more) a track!
    • Bullshit.

      I don't use any of the file sharing utilities any more because I spend hours online to try to download an assortment of stuff (not exactly what I want, just whatever I can find that looks good).

      If there was somewhere that I could download over a fast http connection and just find what I wanted without it being an all-night struggle, you bet I'd pay a quarter a song, or 5 bucks a movie.

      And maybe everyone doesn't feel this way, but I would certainly feel better if I thought I was giving a fair price for what I got. In fact, there is a recent article in Scientific American (maybe 3 months ago) of a psychological study which showed exactly that: given the choice between paying a cheapish price for a good or service and getting the good or service for free, people will consistently pay the cheapish price. We don't really want to be freeloaders. Go figure.
      • In fact, there is a recent article in Scientific American (maybe 3 months ago) of a psychological study which showed exactly that: given the choice between paying a cheapish price for a good or service and getting the good or service for free, people will consistently pay the cheapish price. We don't really want to be freeloaders. Go figure.

        I think that's a case of academia being in contradiction to real-world observable facts.

        I've sold shareware. Damn cheap. And no, not low quality. I can assure you, most people are freeloaders even when given the chance to pay a very small price.

        • I think shareware isn't a good analogy. The times I've used shareware, I've downloaded it, used it for awhile, and moved on. In the cases it was a program that was really cool and I thought about sending in the 5 bucks, I never bothered to because it meant getting out the checkbook or getting a money order and ... etc. etc. I don't even pay my phone bill on time. Of course this was shareware before the internet, so it may now be easier to send the money. I did it with CoolEdit2000, they made it real easy for me to give them money.

          That's really what we are talking about. We are a society that throws money in pools of water for crying out load. Why? Because it is easy to do.
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      As long as something is free, people won't pay for it

      Not really. Most people put in money at the "Suggested Donation" box at museums. Now, museums don't receive enough revenue from the box to stay afloat, and they sure as heck don't have the outrageous benefits of being a music exec, so the RIAA wouldn't go for it. Still, if the music was priced reasonably, I think a lot of people would pay. Not everyone, but a lot.
    • As long as something is free, people won't pay for it.

      Then how come people buy bottled water? (Yes, I know even tap water costs money, but for all intents and purposes, its free.)

    • Some people won't pay for it, but the vast, vast majority will. If there was a site where for 50 cents I could download an MP3 track (signed to me if necessary) from a superfast server then I would happily pay for it.


      Aside from the convenience, such a site could be a community where I could rate songs, find similar music, read news about my favourite bands, meet other fans, buy the CD, buy concert tickets etc. If such a site was prominently placed in AOL, MSN etc. the pirate market would dry up overnight.


      Gnutella et al would be second rate by comparison. Yes you could get your song eventually but it would probably cost you more than 50 cents of your time and connection to do so.

    • Re:Blowing smoke (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pmz (462998)
      Here's something worth considering:

      If most people will choose free over inexpensive, then why do the major Linux distributors, such as RedHat, make the money they do (looking at gross revenues)? This isn't pocket change, here.

      For example, I have decided that I don't want to pay $600/year for a broadband connection and that my 33.6kbs modem is mostly just fine. However, I also found that the time involved in downloading software packages is prohibitive. I, then, quickly decided that time saved is worth some money, which is why I have purchased CD distributions of Linux and OpenBSD without any regrets. Also, I like the idea of providing some money in support of free software.

      If the music industry can achieve something similar--providing high quality downloads & CDs for the market value of the time saved by not using peer-to-peer priateware--then they just got for themselves a guranteed revenue stream, since time will always equal money in the minds of many people for as long as people exist.
    • I for one would have been very interested in this sort of service. I wanted to get my girlfriend the complete works of a band (about 12 CDs) for her birthday and approached it from a "I'll just download them" approach. Knowing what I value my time at, I would have happily paid 25 cents a track. The hassles of poorly named files, digging for some more obscure older tracks and loosing downloads in the middle leave a place where the music industry could provide a better service and charge for it. The only reason I might not participate at this point is that I feel bad about myself when I give those jerks money. But then again, I feel bad about ripping off the artists too.


      Your arguement that free is always cheaper than cheap for most people couldn't be further from the truth. People pay for services they could do themselves all the time. Some could do some repair and plumbing work for pretty much free, but prefer to hire a plumber or handiman. Milkmen just drive milk to your house. Many technical people choose not to build their own computers because it's so much less hassle to have Dell or Gateway or the shop down the street do it for them. People pay for quality service. If the music industry provided a high quality service that made it quicker and easier to download high quality mp3s, they could charge for it. It's not going to be a p2p solution, most likely, but a centralized site (perhaps with a downloadable ap) where I say, I want song XXXX or every song from cd yyyyy and a little bit later, I've got it at a fraction of the cost of a CD and a fraction of the time of finding all the songs myself.


      The kind of user I am:

      &nbsp I can't say I'm the most sophisticated mp3 digger out there, but I use tools like limewire and audiogalaxy pretty well.

  • But... (Score:3, Funny)

    by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:23AM (#3350491)
    This is hard to make a valid comparison to U.S. business model, since Indian music is sooo much better than U.S. music.

    What, me biased?

    Yours objectively, Rajendra.
    • Give me Asha, Lata, and Rafi anytime, and I will never ask
      for any western music.

      P.S. I am not an indian, and am not related to the subcontinent, or even
      Asia in any way.

      --
  • Laws can only be so effective, the easiest way to make people abide by the law is to make it the easiest option to do so.

    If it were easy (read: cheap, fast, convenient) to get music legally, I'm quite sure the illegal methods would become much less popular. On the other hand, squash one illegal method with the "might" of the law, and another springs up to replace it.

    At the minute, it's very easy to get music illegally without being caught. It's going to cost a lot of money to make it a lot more difficult whichever way you look at it, so a scheme like tis seems the only viable option!

  • You can download tracks you want right now.

    eMusic's offerings are subscription based, but allow unlimited downloads.

    I poked around their site, but don't yet see enough artists/titles in their database to be worth my $9.99/month yet. Too bad. It's sort of a catch-22 for them. Probably need more subscribers to build their collection, but can't get more subscribers until their collection is bigger.

    • Yeah, I looked at eMusic after the /. article on Gateway's 'digital music PC' ads. I'm thinking of subscribing, they seem to have a good bit of stuff I'd like. I'm just wondering how quick the downloads are, how hard it'll be to get unsubscribed if I decide later it's not worth it, those sorts of things.
  • I agree.. I'd even be willing to pay a buck a song. I know that from time to time I want a very specific song, and a buck is a fine price to pay. Considering how much it costs to print and ship actual CDS, the labels would be raking it in. I've tried this with a couple of sites (like cdnow.com [cdnow.com]) that claim to support "downloadable MP3s", but they are always crippled. Getting these MP3s to play, even under Windows (which is always the only OS supported) requires a net connection, a special player, and all sorts of authorization.
    In short, let me buy and download MP3s for a buck (real MP3s that will play on any platform) and I'll stop about 75% of my pirating... it's not that I"m not willing to pay, I"m just too lazy to get to the record store, and I don't always want the whole album.
  • I think this is an awesome idea. I would drop 50 cents or whatever a track of music. I think there are two problems with this and the weak minded music industry.. First is that they have no way to control us - ie there is no good copy protection (well at least not yet). And hell I would require my right to personal reproduction if I bought the damn track. Secondly musicians would have to work a little harder, I can't think of all that many CDs that I think every song is great. Most of the time when I buy a CD there are a couple of good songs and the rest is fluffy poo. It's disappointing that I have finally just accepted it but for the norm that's the way it is. Of course I think the RIAA is screwing most musicians though so who knows... I for one might even pay a buck a song for music...it's cheap when you think about it...hell they have to pay bandwidth and stuff also and if it was something that I wanted the entire CD I could just buy the entire CD. I wish the Music Industry would just catch on and see how much they are missing out on by everyone having to rely on Morpheus or some other thing like that.
  • Dumb fucks. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Every one of you dumb fucks talk as if all music came in three minute "songs". That is NOT the universal unit of music.

    Dumb fucks.
    • Every one of you dumb fucks talk as if all music came in three minute "songs". That is NOT the universal unit of music.

      Well...Universal [universalrecords.com] does pump out a lot of music around that length...so maybe you're just getting confused over capitalization.
  • ten cents a pop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(ten.suomafni) (ta) (smt)> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:26AM (#3350526) Homepage
    I still believe that if the bigs let us download MP3s for a quarter a track, we'd do it.

    25 cents a track is three bucks for a CD's worth (twelve songs) of music. I can do better than that by clever manipulation of CD clubs [hansen1.com].

    I think more like ten cents a pop would defintely do it - think ten bucks, one hundred songs.

    And if we cut the middlemen out, most artists would probably end up ahead.

  • Worth it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by realmolo (574068)
    I'd pay 25 cents a track. Lots of people would.

    IF...you could get any track you wanted. Imagine if the labels had giant servers that contained their entire catalogs in 192kbps MP3 format. No more hunting around for what you want. MP3s ripped by people that know what they're doing. Ahh ;)

    THAT would be worth 25 cents a track.
  • by YakumoFuji (117808) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:27AM (#3350541) Homepage
    hmm bollocks. I work in the data warehouse of HMV UK (where HMV started), and I can tell you its not the first entry in the master catalogue!

    not sure where indiatimes got their info from...

  • well the US folks can use it, but they only sell non-US music. so that means no Korn, no britiny (if you like that) and other crap that is US based.

    well, I guess I could get into the south pacific nations music :-)
  • Let us compare:

    25 cents

    versus

    0 cents (and a nil chance of getting busted).

    Let's try again:

    You have to wait until the Tuesday of release.

    versus

    You can go out, get a full promo copy of a cd that isn't out yet (El-P - Fantastic Damage, Blackalicious - Flaming Arrows) or a cd version that will never be released (N*E*R*D - In Search Of (import version), Latyrx).

    Hmmm, ok. No, there has to be something that will prove that an honor digital music system would work:

    You get to be monitored by a large corporate service and are accountable to the government.

    versus

    Complete and utter anonymity (for sake of argument).

    Conclusion: There is no way in Hell that commercial digital music sharing will take off as long as a viable free PtP service(s) exists.
    • Okay, how about:

      You download the track once, assured that it will be a complete, high-quality encoding with full ID3 tags.

      versus

      You download the track once only to discover that the end is cut off, so you download it again from somewhere else, only to discover that the quality sucks, so you download it again from somewhere else, only to discover that there are skip/stutter artifacts in it, so you download it again...

      I know a lot of people (including myself) who would pay for the convenience and assurance of a legitimate system!
  • Pay For Play? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Luminous (192747) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:33AM (#3350603) Journal
    I'm equally skeptical that people will pony up money when they can still easily get it for free, BUT I have a Lockian sense that people will choose to do what is legally and ethically correct more often than not. Which means if an easy to use service, with a simple User Interface were to appear which was tied to an account (not a credit card, but an account that money can be deposited into in order to control willy-nilly downloading), offered free streaming music a la spinner, offered oddities like MP3.com, allowed artists/record labels to offer tracks for free, and was a no brainer to use - people would use it.

    I am the type of person who listens to Spinner, hears a song I like, goes to the new Morpheus and looks for it. I may be atypical, but I don't think I am. I think a lot of people would do the same if given the opportunity. Hear a song on the radio and have the option to buy it immediately . . . it is a great sales strategy. Music stores do it, they play stuff that they think people will buy once they hear it.

    Get the service software bundled with PCs with the downloading option disabled until an account is activated, people will still get the radio ability which can have little ads between songs letting people know that if they really liked they song, they can download it.
    • I'm equally skeptical that people will pony up money when they can still easily get it for free

      The problem with stuff like Gnutella, Kazaa, etc. is you generally have to know EXACTLY what you're looking for. One of the reasons I joined emusic.com (a pay service, $10-15 a month depending on which subscription you get) is because I can find all sorts of stuff simply by genre and style, or by specific artist/song if I choose.

      I can't go to Gnutella and say "find some contemporary jazz" and expect to get anything decent. I can go and type "Louis Armstrong" if I know that's what I want, but I don't always know what I want. Most people don't either.

      Here's a sum-up list of why I pay for emusic:

      • Search by artist, track, album, or browse the genres. The latter is something you really can't do well in existing file-sharing networks.
      • Excellent download speeds at constant rates. I can snag multiple tracks off emusic at 180-200k/sec pretty much anytime, day or night. Contrast this to the crappy 2-5k/sec I got from people on Gnutella.
      • Lots of music in the styles I like. I'm not much for what's "cool" like Brititney Spears or whatever. Since the filesharing networks, by their very nature, tend to only have what the majority of people like, it's hard to find the music *I* enjoy. I don't see a lot of smooth jazz or caribbean music out there on the leech networks.

      Other than that, all I can say is - go try out the 30 day trial [emusic.com] and see for yourself. It's pretty sucky you have to have a credit card to sign up for the friggin' trial, but you may be surprised what good music there is to be found on there. Personally, what I find is worth paying for.

  • "I still believe that if the bigs let us download MP3s for a quarter a track, we'd do it."

    I would cheerfully pay $0.25 per track (for uncrippled MP3s). That would be infinitely more than I spend now. Currently, my music budget is $0.00 because I won't pay $17.99 for what amounts to be one track, distributed with some other junk, all of which is potentially crippled by copyware. And to think RIAA blames their problem on piracy! Idiots!

    RIAA better get smart before everyone's music collection is limited to what they bought during the heyday of "orange book compliance". Then again, waiting for them to get smart is like waiting for hell to freeze over.
  • I do not use music swaping software much but when I do use it it is usually a time consuming task to find the songs I actually want. I know I would be personally happy to go to a site like cdnow.com where I could preview each song (30 seconds) and then download the song for anywhere between 50 cents to 1 dollar.

    I cannot see how anyone else out there would not be willing to do this as you would get exactly the songs you want and you would download them at a fast rate. Downloading over a DSL line with at a max rate instead of at 5-20k a second would be well worth the 50 cents to a dollar.

    I know I would still go out and buy the cd's because there are some kewl things that come with cd's like memberships to sites to download other hidden tracks and lyrics or what not but I can promise, like most people, that I would go to a site and pay 50 cents to a dollar before I go to limewire because I know it would take a lot less time.
  • by Colin Winters (24529) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:37AM (#3350639)
    Download music for 20-25 cents a track. Consumers would be happy being able to pick out music they like and not have to pay $15 for one track+a lot of garbage. Unfortunately, this will never ever happen. Think of the cable industry-how cool would it be to pay $1 per channel for normal channels? I don't know anyone who watches more than 10 channels, the rest are all wasted on them. But if the cable companies were to use this pricing scheme, they'd go bankrupt quickly. By packaging content as a whole, they are able to subsidize crappier channels, just as the music industry subsidizes crappier tracks/albums.

    Colin Winters
  • RIAA Strawman? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Corporate Drone (316880) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @11:38AM (#3350644)
    OK... so you've established that $0.25 / track is worth a whole lot more in India than in the States.

    Why, then, are the bells going off in my head, telling me that RIAA will use the argument, "We tried. It cost only a quarter a song , and it failed. See! That business model doesn't work!"

  • People keep mentioning that if people can get the music for free, then they are going to do that instead of paying for it. Maybe among the /. crowd this might be true.

    Right now, with no structure, pretty much the only way to get MP3s off the Internet is from Kazaa or some other illegal source. So, you don't feel guilty or obliged to pay... this is how everybody does it and it's the only way.

    Think about if there was really a well-known structure in place. Everybody knows, this is where you go to get MP3s, and it costs 25/50/whatever cents per track. And think about Joe Average consumer. He would probably use this service without a second thought. The interface would be nice. He could find any song quickly, probably with a 15/30-second sample so he knows he's got the right song. And then he'd get a guaranteed speedy, uninterrupted download, and without those little blips, or a cut off end to the track, etc.

    If he could then burn that song to a CD or put it in his MP3 player just like the "free" versions, I honestly think that Joe Average is almost certainly going to do this!

    mark
  • My friends who are geeks or geekish have this in common: they buy a lot of music and they download a lot of music.

    My friends who are not geekish have this in common: They do not buy a lot of music because it's expensive and they don't download any music because they think it's a hassle and probably wrong.

    The second group has the largest growth potential for the music industry and the artists themselves. If they make downloading cheap and easy they will make mo' money.


  • THIS is the answer, Id gladly pay 20 cents a song
    A. if the money goes directly to musicians and only musicians

    B. If i have the right to distribute the songs in a non commercial way.

    Think of it this way, like software, I want music to be free, not free in price, but in freedom. GNU music, think of it that way.

    I'd gladly pay for mp3s if musicians set it up via paypal or whatever 20 cents a song, I swear to everything holy that if it were setup this way, I would have no reason to rip musicians off using napster.

    When i use napster like products (Im not saying I actually do but lets pretend I do)
    I use it to rip off the record companies, the fake musicians like nsync and britney spears, you know what i mean?

    Same reason I dont think most people would pay for photoshop is why most people dont pay for music.

    All who agree with me, please comment positive confirmation.

    I'm sure theres certain people here who disagree, I'd like your comments to, If you look at my posts from my history, I'm someone who likes to debate about this stuff, and I have an opinion that information should be free, I guess I'm a GNU zealot and im not ashamed to admit it.
  • .... they wouldn't be in this mess right now.

    Let's face it, the only reason why Napster et. al. came into being was that it was friggin difficult to find mp3 music! Had the record industry been there with every song ever made for .20 a track, they would have probably expanded sales considerably.

    Music has never been 'secure.' Whether it's a dual deck casette boom box or a cd burner, people have always copied music. But the industry managed to still sell it when it was reasonably priced. I believe the same would have occured had the industry flat out adopted MP3.

  • Imagine a P2P program which, instead of allowing you to download a song from someone's computer, let you listen to a low-quality stream, sent from their collection. If you like the track you can then send a request to the P2P's "host" company (a record label, perhaps??) and pay your $0.25 per track to them. Their servers are fast, so downloading is quick. And, for additional increments of say $0.02, you can up the quality to as much as 320Kbps. Also accessible is the entire catalog of the record company, cross-referenced with any covers or remixes of their artists' songs that appear on other labels, so you can easily find what you want right away, instead of browsing other users.

    Problem is, once you realize many non-geek computer users still have 650MHz Compaq Presarios or 300MHz iMacs with AOL and a 56K modems, you stop thinking streaming to 8-10 users at once would be a good idea :-D.

    Of couse, workarounds could be to have the client (i.e. the streamee) search for the fastest availible connection with the requested track, and also implement a system of queues, etc. but this quickly becomes a bandwidth-hogging pain in the ass.

    Oh well, maybe in a perfect world when we all run > 1GHz and everyone has fiber-to-the-home...

  • I know I'd like to SAY that I'd happily pay $0.25 for a song if I knew I could get a high-quality, high-bitrate copy FAST and conveniently, but if I could do the same for free with a little bit of leg-work (ie: downloading several copies from P2P until I get a good one), I'm not sure that I WOULD pay.

    The big problem is I (and I'm not alone) am still nervous giving out a credit card online - it's not that I'm worried about someone hacking HTTPS and listening in - it's the fact that the majority of eCommerce sites have been focusing too much on bleeding-edge innovations to worry about good ol' security, and I'm sure many large sites get their entire (unencrypted) customer credit card database hacked into more frequently than we'd all like to believe.

    In certain cases, I'm willing to chance it, but those are typically for large purchases, or when I have no other choice (the product isn't carried locally). When we're talking 2-bits a track, and for something I could get without the hassle of giving away my credit card, I doubt I'd bother.

    (This is why most eCommerce sites are still struggling to make a buck - and I know because I run one of them - it's not that consumers don't WANT to buy from us, but the worries of credit card fraud are too real)

    Of course, we have to pay for the music at SOME point if we want to keep hearing it, but I just don't think this would be as successful as everyone hopes.

  • "full of crap"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syrinx (106469) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @12:04PM (#3350880) Homepage
    People keep saying how they don't want to pay $17.99 for 1 song and a bunch of filler.

    A) If you're paying $17.99 for your CDs, that's way too much.

    B) If you're buying albums with only one good song, you're buying the wrong albums.

    I personally wouldn't pay a whole lot for downloading MP3s.. $0.25 is possible. I still like my CDs (you're going to lose something in the compression to MP3, no matter what.. are they going to offer 192kbps? What if I want higher? Once it gets compressed, you can't ever get better than that. And I must be one of the 0.001% of people that looks at liner notes.), and I really do use MP3s from Napster/Audiogalaxy/Morpheus/Kazaa to figure out albums I want to buy. Hell I just received 1 CD in the mail yesterday, 6 today, and another one is coming soon.

    There are some few songs that I would never buy the album for, and if I could get those at a nice enough bitrate, without skips because someone sucks at ripping, and for God's sake *labeled correctly* then I'd definitely pay $0.25 for that, probably more.

  • by ruvreve (216004)
    If music becomes that cheap then we won't be able to watch cribs on mtv and see all the gold plated showers and 35 cars. Because I KNOW the music labels won't dip into profits.
  • The other day on cdnow I noticed, whilst perusing the new "arsonists" disc, that I could down some "CD Quality" MP3s. I was quite excited.

    Then I noticed that each track would cost me $1.60. Whoa man -- that's more expensive than a can of pringles, and for one song. Ten second skits and intros cost the same. All told, to download the whole album would have cost me 12x$1.60 = 19.2$, for an album that cost $16 to buy and ship.

    And their definition of "CD Quality" is 128bit. I'm not sure if you're aware of the arsonists, but they're a hip hop group that relies heavily on vocal texture -- they may have three of four guys rapping behind the main guy, as well as a thick beat and a nice, crisp loop.

    Hopping on half.com, I noticed I could buy the disc & ship it for $10. The artists make no money, but I save $9 from the mp3 solution.

    Cost effectiveness is the key...i worked out that on my hosting service ($10 per month for 1 gig, www.webslum.net, we love you), a 5 gig MP3 download costs the host $.05. And that's after our service markup! An artist selling that track for $.20 is making a profit of $.15 per download, close to $2 per album.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@nOsPAm.keirstead.org> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @12:33PM (#3351118) Homepage

    If you want to support downloadable tunes, then go join eMusic [emusic.com]. For 5 - 10 bucks / month depending on the plan you choose, you can download unlimited tracks from their website. These aren't crappy proprietary tracks either, they are high bitrate MP3's, no restirctions. And I have checked out their content, they have some really good stuff available. Not just a bunch of unknoqns like MP3.com has, they have stuff from all kinds of people including GooGoo Dolls, Rancid, Bush, Green Day, and many more. These artists all have multiple full albums available for download.

    So if you really want to show your support go sign up. Or, if you want to keep whining and leeching free stuff from Gnutella, go ahead. But don't complain when the whole MP3 format becomes outlawed when no one uses it but pirates.

    • Gee. Great.

      So to show my support, I'm supposed to pay money to join a website to download mp3s of the same crappy bullshit artists the big record companies are in love with?

      Um, no thanks.

      I'll stick with the latest file sharing program, find music I like and that's actually good, then go down to the local record store and buy or order the CD.

    • Erm, nope.

      Firstly, emusic isn't 5-10 bucks a month, it's 10-15.

      Secondly, their range is pretty restricted. For example, their "Rock / Alternative" section lists the grand total of 45 bands - if they're trying to promote new music, why isn't there more available? I may be missing something but when I trialled emusic I basically couldn't find enough to occupy me for a day, let alone the minimum three month subscription (or 12 months if you want to get the lower, 10 dollar a month rate).

      Thirdly, their MP3s are hardly high bitrate - everything is as 128 kbits, which might have been classed as high quality a few years ago, but in these days of vbr lame rips sounds decidedly shoddy.

      The emusic concept is quite good, but to entice me they'd need around 10-100 times as much content and decent quality mp3s.
    • When I first heard about emusicb(back in december), I went to their site and read through everything. When I discovered that their "high quality mp3s" were 128 kbit, I sent an email. Here's how it went:
      I was perusing your website, and I noticed that you only encode your music to 128 Kbps. While I'm sure it's probably an issue of server space, I have found that most people can notice a difference in sound quality at 128 Kbps, and many still notice it at higher rates. I find for myself that 160 or 192 is preferable. The reason I bring this up is that your service looks to be rather impressive and definitely interests me, but I was wondering if you had any future plans to increase the bitrate of your music (maybe even offer higher quality tracks for a "premium" membership fee). Thanks for your time, (my name here)


      Here's the response I got:
      Hello, Thank you for writing to EMusic. Customer satisfaction is very important at EMusic. Although there are no current plans to change the bitrate, we continually monitor customer's feedback regarding bitrate preference. While increasing our bitrate improves the sound quality of downloads, it also dramatically increases file size and download time. Many of our customers use dial-up connections, which would create issues for them with increased download time. And, unfortunately, offering multiple bit rates would be cost prohibitive to our customers. Regards, EMusic.com Service


      So it seems that they have no real plans to increase the quality of their tracks, and I would have to actually be a customer for my feedback to matter to them anyways. When somebody starts to offer better quality at comparable prices, I'll join.
  • This is why we have DVD-region encoding, folks-- price-discrimination, "As Seen On Your Economics 101 Exam". You of course know that next logical step is to move music CD's, or rather their DVD audio successors, over to regions too. Of course it will be too bad for all those people who go to India to buy music DVD's they can't buy in the US, since they will not be able to play their Indian music on their North American region 1 boombox when they get back home. "Not to worry," says Jack Valenti. "If you buy a sitar and strum it while playing Britney Spears, you'll swear it sounds like it Indian music."
  • Or N*Sync/Limp Bizkit/etc...

    Why? Because in India, most of the most popular music is not US pop music. The most popular music comes from movie soundtracks. No, not the soundtrack The Scopion King, either.
    In India, movies are primarily used as a vehicle for promoting new music. Indian movies have a large number of song and dance numbers, and the plot is typically a vehicle used to tie together the diferent numbers (this is why I was really surprised to see an Indian movie up for an Oscar nod...unusual).

    So, the most popular music Indians will be searching for will be Indian movie soundtracks. Still, though, this may seem like a move in the right direction, it will ultimately not prove to be worthwhile. Why? Simple. The US Dollar goes a lot further in India, thus 25 cents is not cheap over there. Besides, why pay for music when you can get it for free?
    Music piracy in India is EVERYWHERE. It is so bad, in fact, that it is common to be able to download (or buy) the soundtrack for a summer blockbuster movie months before it is even released! So, no one will ante up to this subscription service until all of the piracy has been virtually eliminated.
    ...and the piracy in India will probably be eliminated right around the same time I open up my Texas Steakhouse in New Delhi.

    -D
  • Wow, what a smart idea.

    Why couldn't our companies figure this one out? Why, because it's so much easier to demonize internet users and those (in their eyes) pathetic teenagers that download movies/mp3's/warez. Saying these activities are costing them more and more each year, while out of the other corner of their mouths claiming they have made more money then ever before.

    Yeah then freedom/innovation limiting legislation.

    Land of the free!!

    RA!

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