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Universal, Sony Cutting Prices on Downloaded Music 446

Posted by michael
from the invisible-hand dept.
Don Symes writes "Sony Music and Universal appear to be getting ready to allow downloads of singles for $.99 and albums for $9.99 without crippleware or restrictions on personal copying/burning." Another semi-interesting piece submitted by several people is this propaganda from the recording industry. 2.8 million copyright-infringing CD-R's were seized in the U.S. last year (9 million world-wide); from that the IFPI extrapolates that 950 million copyright-infringing CD-R's were actually sold, world-wide. How do you get from 9 million to 950 million? Mostly hand-waving .
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Universal, Sony Cutting Prices on Downloaded Music

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  • by night_flyer (453866) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:51PM (#3689128) Homepage
    But the cable company set a lower bandwidth cap...
    • by ReelOddeeo (115880) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:57PM (#3689194)
      I'd download them.... But the cable company set a lower bandwidth cap

      Any reasonable cap shouldn't be a huge problem for downloading MP3's. MP3's are small compared to things that even "normal" users might download. I suppose it depenes on how many MP3's you plan to download, or upload to others. Or how many gnutella packets will pass through your system.

      The bandwidth cap is more likely to prevent you from running:
      • Gnutella
      • An OpenNap server (but not client, depending on how much uploading you allow)
      • Other heavily traffic'd server
      • by krogoth (134320) <slashdot@@@garandnet...net> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:21PM (#3689423) Homepage
        These aren't MP3s. They use the Liquid Audio format, which means I won't be buying them any time soon.
        • by srvivn21 (410280)
          What do you have against Liquid Audio?

          No really, I'm curious.

          They are (apparently/somehow) protected against computer-to-computer copying, but

          ...Universal has decided to let buyers burn the files onto conventional CDs in unscrambled formats, meaning they could be copied or moved freely from that point.


          So wherein lies the problem exactly?
          • by krogoth (134320)
            I said this in another post, but I'll consider using their service when they release a Liquid Audio plugin for XMMS. Another thing I forgot to mention is that I refuse to buy it if I can't put it on my NJB.
          • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @10:23PM (#3691241) Homepage
            What do you have against Liquid Audio?


            I can't play it using my favorite software and hardware (BeOS and SoundPlay, FWIW, although I'm sure you can think of any number of other hardware and software platforms that Liquid Audio is never going to support). I'm also not entirely comfortable with the thought of having audio files with my fingerprint in them.... would I be liable if someone hacked my machine and started distributing copies of my files?

          • by King_TJ (85913)
            I'll tell you *my* problem with Liquid Audio!
            It's a format created and supported by only one software development firm. How many software programs have you seen that play Liquid Audio format files? I'm betting none, other than the one produced by Liquid Audio themselves.

            MP3, on the other hand (and even more and more, Microsoft's .WMA format) play on quite a few devices and software packages. If I purchase online music from a vendor, I'd like to be able to dump it straight into my car MP3 player (Rio MP3 Car).
  • About time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darnellmc (524699)
    About time they eased up on prices a bit, but that probably means they are getting over on us even worse than we all thought ;o) .

    Regarding that CD-R article, I'm sure the RIAA would just love to ban the things. How about they just ban all dual-deck tape recorders too. Write you representatives folks. Don't let them lobby to take away all that is left of Fair-Use.
    • Re:About time (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nick_Psyko (18708)
      I have been waiting for single song prices, but I still can't understand why a record label can't give a shop a Pc with a writer and usb.
      You walk in and either buy (per song) a cd compelation that you created (no shit songs on the album where evry other song is perfect) or upload them to your laptop/ipod from an arcade game style unit.
      Cool that they are doing it online now, prolly better than the song idea anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:54PM (#3689165)
    Yes, you heard correctly - secret watermarks. Want the music cheap? Sure, here you go. Of course, if you do trade it online, we'll get back to you on the number of times we find it on other computers and charge you full price plus treble damages. It's not as if we couldn't see through this business model by now...
  • by Bonker (243350) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:56PM (#3689183)
    ...Althought $5-$8 would be a lot better. Problem is, if I buy an album, I want 44.1khz PCM data, and not a compressed stream with a not-insignificant portion of the data missing.

    If my $.99 bought me the raw stereo PCM data to burn, MP3, ogg, or sample then I would consider this reasonable.

    Of course the artists probably get less than $.05 of that sale. The other .94 cents buys .05 of an ounce of cocaine to line the nostrils of a record exec.
    • Oddly... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HarryCaul (25943)

      Ten bucks is roughly what a record store pays the distributor for a CD. The music industry is just cutting out the middleman and keeping their profit the same. Not a bad thing to try.
      • There is NO reason for a lower quality sound file (MP3, ogg, PCM, whatever). Give me a great quality copy, and I'll gladly give you my $0.99 per song.

        Not bloody likely though...
        • Sure there's a reason. You're talking 10 times the bandwidth. 1mb per minute saves a heck of a lot over 10mb per minute. Not to mention that they'd lose their non-broadband.

          Yes I know you can use lossless compression, but the average consumer out there isn't going to know how to deal with that. They understand .mp3 and the like.
    • I'd keep with $10. Cutting down by a couple bucks would come STRAIGHT out of the artist's part of the compensation, and we all know it. :)

      The PCM idea is unrealistic, though. A sufficiently good MP3, or preferably (though unlikely for now :/ ) an Ogg would be better - basically no quality loss, but huge bandwidth savings. If 100% reproducability is required, perhaps they could use Shorten? It's lossless, so it would be ideal - you'd have the best possible bandwidth usage for absolutely no quality degradation.
  • by night_flyer (453866) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:57PM (#3689200) Homepage
    not 128kbs, but at LEAST than 196kbs, otherwise it isnt worth the cash outflow...

    personally if im going to pay for something I want a solid object in my mitts, a physical CD, liner notes, pictures, etc....
    • by GrandCow (229565) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:26PM (#3689925)

      personally if im going to pay for something I want a solid object in my mitts, a physical CD, liner notes, pictures, etc....

      Then maybe the record company needs to take it one step further... offer the cd for $9.99 off of the website in 196kbs mp3's, and leave an option for the customer. If they decide that they like the CD enough to buy the actual disk, let them come back within say 2 weeks, pay an extra $3-4 (S&H) and have the CD itself mailed to them. They've already made the bulk of their profit (bandwidth for an entire CD is probably only a few cents out of the $9.99) and it would be a good way to get an extra $2 out of the customer. Shipping, labor, and the materials for the physical CD are probably only about a dollar or two, and the band/promoters/radio stations have been paid out of the profits from the downloaded version.

      I see that as an option where everyone wins. Too bad it'll never happen (unless the physical CD would only be discounted from the regular price of $15 down to $10 if you've already paid for the full cd off the web site)
  • 2.8 million copyright-infringing CD-R's were seized in the U.S. last year (9 million world-wide); from that the IFPI extrapolates that 950 million copyright-infringing CD-R's were actually sold, world-wide. How do you get from 9 million to 950 million? Mostly hand-waving.

    I can only assume that Michael doesn't actually understand what the numbers he's quoting mean. Hard to believe, I know. 9 million == number actually seized. 950 million == estimate of how many actually produced and illegally sold.

    Obviously it's difficult to have hard numbers about what CDs were NOT seized, but who thinks that it's unreasonable to claim that only 1 out of every 100 illegally produced CDs sold are actually found and confiscated?

    In fact, it surprises be that it's as high as 1/100.

    • Don't fall for it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zen Mastuh (456254) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:24PM (#3689447)
      Obviously it's difficult to have hard numbers about what CDs were not seized...

      You should have stopped right there. The record companies are stating these numbers as fact instead of admitting that they are pulling numbers out of thin air. Their strategy is similar to the ONDCP's: design the numbers to fit the agenda. In the case of the ONDCP, they estimate higher drug usage when they want a higher budget, then they estimate lower drug usage to prove their efforts were successful. The record companies are giving an outrageous estimate to shock people into believing that there is a serious problem with piracy. Wait a few years, until the DMCA and other dragnets have imprisoned and fined a large number of people. Then the record companies will revise their estimate to prove that the legislation was effective in reducing piracy.

  • by CaseyB (1105) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:57PM (#3689203)
    The one advantage of having lower $0.99 "per track" charges, is that once the artists' royalty percentage is rounded, it equals zero.
  • Oh, please... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Justen (517232)
    The recording industry just wants someone to blame poor management on. The truth is that with Napster gone, it makes their job more difficult: they can't now pin it on just one company. It was easy to just sue Napster... Now they have to go after end-users, or find some way to tighten their bandwidth access.

    Look at the ridiculous deals they signed just before the economy slowed here in the United States... The Mariah Carey deal, which failed. The Michael Jackson "biggest album ever" which sold about ten copies.

    It's easy for the CEOs of these companies to place blame somewhere else, besides themselves. And the Boards and shareholders have so far wagged their tails, nodded their heads, and watched their portfolios halve in value.

    They'll wake up... Someday... Maybe...

    jrbd
  • Hopefully Amazon, Best Buy, or the other "resellers" make a good website to sell the things, maybe have 30second intro mp3s so you can "try before you buy" and what not. Hopefully they will make it easy to find the songs you want too. Current file sharing services don't do that for me. I'll pay $.99/song to get that.

    Sony bets alot of other people will too. I'd wager they'll bet that I'd pay $5 extra to have them burn me a cd or two and ship them to me too or other "added features" (music videos anyone? tour footage anyone? live tracks anyone?)
  • Good Grief (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fished (574624)
    This is ridiculous. From the ifpi article:
    Second, piracy nurtures organised crime. Very often the money that is paid for pirate CDs will be channelled into the drugs trade, money laundering or other forms of serious organised criminal activity.
    Let's think this through for a second... why does organized crime import drugs? BECAUSE THEY CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY AT IT. They don't need to seel pirated software to make money, they are already making money selling drugs. How on earth could you argue that pirated CD's would pay for furthering the drug trade? I mean, is IFPI seriously proposing that there is some kind of global conspiracy trying to addict our citizens to drugs at their own expense?

    And ... isn't money laundering something that makes money on its own too? In fact, the only relationship between money laundering and CD IP theft seems to be that, if there were no copyright, there would be no need to launder the money made.

    In fact, wouldn't the best way to cut off the legs of organized crime in this area be legalization, or, heaven forfend, reasonable prices from the recording industry?

    If these are the best arguments against piracy, I think I'll go steal some music now.

  • This will prove it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wind_Walker (83965) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @04:59PM (#3689218) Homepage Journal
    This is what the pro-Napster (read: pro-piracy) crowd has been shouting about for as long as I can remember. "Make music available for a low price ($1 per song) and we'll buy it! We don't want to rip them off, but we're sick of paying $16 for a CD!!!"

    And do you know what? This will flop. Terribly. Why? Because the same people who have been shouting that they'll pay for music will, in the end, not pay for music.

    Once, a few years ago, I pirated music using Napster. I got quite good at it, amassing more than 5 GB of songs. But eventually, I had to face the facts: I was stealing music. A few of my friends asked me to justify what I was doing, and I couldn't justify it. I was stealing music. I thought about "making up", by buying all the CDs that I wanted music from, but I didn't. And do you know why? Because it would cost money.

    I know it's not hip to agree with the RIAA on Slashdot, but in this case I feel that it's correct to. The pirate community has been screaming that they want low-price music, and now they're offering it to them. But it will flop, because in the end, people don't want cheap music.

    They want free music.

    • I don't know how much of an effect this will have, but the songs will be distributed in the Liquid Audio format. I'll consider it when they release a Liquid Audio XMMS plugin.

      Another thing is that people will never pay for all the music they want to listen to. There are two reasons for this: most people, given the chance, will listen to more music than they could buy, and they will also download songs and albums that they would never even consider buying - good enough to listen to isn't good enough to buy. In both cases, reducing the price would help.
    • But, it has to be a robust service. That means high bit rate, no restrictions, and I better have access to their entire catalog including brand new releases. It could be a bit cheaper though, since they don't have any distribution and packaging costs.....
    • by hattig (47930) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:32PM (#3689508) Journal
      I agree totally. I once had nearly a couple of gigabytes of Napster sourced music for free (a lot of it I would never have bought though, and I do mean that) and I still have MP3's from that time, and more recently from Gnutella, but that is a complete hassle to use.

      I justified it because everyone else was doing it, and you can't listen to the radio at work where the music was available. Pretty weak excuses, but the latter had some merit.

      Now I have progressed to the stage where I still refuse to pay full price for albums, but once they are £10.99 in Tesco, or £9.99 then I will buy them. If they are really good, I will buy them as well. I have also realised that there is a bucketload of excellent old music out there, priced between £4.99 and £6.99 at places like 101cd.com and your local backstreet music store, and thus for a mere £110 I can buy 19 full albums of music that I like, even if it isn't the latest and "greatest" (ha!).

      Once modern albums contain more than 2 or 3 good songs and 5 trash songs, then my money might start going on new music again. Tempting though "Baile del gorila" by Melody is, it is the only good song on the CD so I will not buy it. I bought a best of Boney M for £4.99 instead.

      So I bought Aphex Twin Classics today for £5.99, I will buy two deftones albums for £5.99ea this weekend after England beat Denmark, possibly Madonna Music and Madonna Erotica Tour as well at the same price (and thus cover those MP3 downloads a year or two ago). And 19 CDs in the post as well... the next couple of weeks will be fun.

      I love CDs, the cases, the physical things. But I will only pay reasonable prices for them. If all new CD albums were £8.99 then I would probably have a CD collection in the many hundreds by now...

      Remember, if you listen to a £15.99 CD 20 times, then you are paying around 80p a listen. Too high for my liking. Listen to a £5.99 CD 20 times for 30p a shot - much better for background music most of the time.

    • by Wee (17189) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:44PM (#3689584)
      And do you know what? This will flop. Terribly. Why? Because the same people who have been shouting that they'll pay for music will, in the end, not pay for music.

      You're completely, 100% wrong. Yeah, it will flop, but not because people won't pay. It's silly to assume people don't pay for music. People pay for music all the time. How else do you think the recording industry stays in business? No, piracy is most certainly not why this will fail. It will fail because the suits misunderstand their thetarget audience for this service.

      I have ~18GB of MP3 files. They are all, to the last file, arranged in complete albums, with proper ID3 tags for each file. Why? Because I bought the CDs and then ripped and encoded them myself. Napster was useless. You got iffy quality, screwy naming conventions, weird ID3 tags (if you got them at all), and the files sometimes (mostly) had defects. Even if I didn't want to pay, I'd still pay rather than listen to the crap you get off Napster (or Kaazaa -- same problems there).

      I require two things for digital music: The complete album in high bit-rate MP3 format. I do not want single songs. I do not want proprietary (read: non-MP3 or non-OGG) formats with built-in "digital rights management". I do not want to "burn" anything. Why the heck would I burn a Liquid Audio (whatever the hell that is) on to a CD-R? I want the music on my fileserver where it belongs. Where my AudioTron downstairs and my workstation upstairs can get to them. Where I can stream them from work. I might even put them on a portable MP3 player, but last time I checked the portables didn't support "burning" or formats besides MP3.

      I'd love the chance to pay $10 for a complete album. As long as it's in MP3 format at a decent bit-rate. But this "service" can't give me that and therefore is completely useless. It will fail because they are going about it all wrong -- not because people don't want cheap music.

      -B

      • I agree 100% with what you say about the quality of files on the peer-to-peer systems not being up to snuff. The record industry could really capitalize on this if they wanted to, all they'd have to do is :
        • Use 320kbps mp3 (or ogg) files, NO RESTRICTED FORMATS
        • Embed lyrics in the mp3 files, because why the hell not?
        • Sell them to us at 99 cents a song or less, eight or nine bucks for a whole album
        If people take the files and try to trade them on Gnutella or the like, DON'T sic the lawyers on them. A certain amount of copying is unavoidable, and there are ways [slashdot.org] of making that more trouble than it's worth if a guaranteed good copy of the song is readily, legally, and cheaply available. Most people will then choose to buy the song, those who don't probably don't have much money in the first place or they wouldn't waste their time.
    • by sweatyboatman (457800) <sweatyboatman AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:00PM (#3689728) Homepage Journal
      Of course, the labels don't really want this to work. They want it to fail so that they can go back to Congress and say "See! We lowered prices and they're still stealing! They wont pay 99 cents! We're bleeding from our arteries here! You guys have to do something to protect our profits, er, the artists!"

      If they want to make this work they have to devote themselves to it. But for a label there's not much reason to do it. There's no way that selling over the internet isn't going to cut into their gross for a while. People wont pay $16 for an album's worth of MP3s.

      But it's not a zero-sum game, because RIAA can't control their end-users. Their music is digitalized and distributed for them, at no cost to anyone. Actually, for RIAA they may just be stuck.

      Music distribution is no longer tricky. Just stick mp3s on your website. Finding new talent can be done just as well by a bunch of independents as it can by a giant music conglomeration.

      In the next decade, music may just go back to being an art instead of an industry.
    • The reason no one will buy this is because of the stupid format. Sony knows perfectly that by refusing to stick to an established format they will be dooming this project to failure. Sony, however, is perfectly happy to allow this to fail. Then they can continue wave their arms frantically and shout "Look! You see! No one bought it! They're all liars! Thieves and Liars!". After all, if no one buys these songs, it's no skin off their back, they'd make MORE money selling a normal cd.

      When they release the songs using a format that's:
      1) Easy to burn
      2) Easy to copy
      3) Easy to play (well-established players, like winamp)

      Then, and only then, will they begin to open a new market.

      Oh, and BTW, when I download songs, I download stuff that never gets any radio play (which, btw, is the record companies faults) and, if I like it, I buy the cd. I won't buy anything that I haven't listened to first. I've bought thousands of dollars worth of cds over the years and I'd probably have bought only 2 or 3 if it weren't for Napster and its kin.
    • by ryanvm (247662) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @10:12PM (#3691201)
      I had to face the facts: I was stealing music. A few of my friends asked me to justify what I was doing, and I couldn't justify it. I was stealing music.

      Wow - your friends staged a Napster intervention?
  • How do you get from 9 million to 950 million?

    You multiply by roughly 100. :)

  • Particularly because Sony is onboard, which owns Sony Classical. One thing that is REALLY weak on P2P networks is a good classical selection, and what's there is often badly converted and missing the ending sections.

    I will definitely be using the service.

    • Amen. And if that $0.99 per track means I can download (say) CSO/Solti Beethoven's 9th for $3.96, then I'll gladly pay. :) On a more serious note, it will be tons easier to get all the works from my favorite composers / conductors / performers this way, than by going through online services looking for the recordings I want.

      Another thing that I'm really, really hoping for, is that smaller labels like Alternative Tentacles and Wrong Records will get in on the act. That'll scare the living unholy crap out of Tipper Gore and her gang.

      I'm still pissed at RIAA for using DMCA instead of copyright laws to pursue music pirates, but this might win back my patronage.

  • by Dr. Bent (533421) <benNO@SPAMint.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:02PM (#3689247) Homepage
    "Here's an idea: Maybe if we give them something they actually want, they'll pay us for it."

    "Wow...you think so? Well, let's give it a shot. Can't be any worse than that MiniDisc fiasco."
  • this is exactly what i've been waiting for...
    99 cents is easily worth the price of a song, as long as the quality is decent.
    and hey! i can feel good about having a 'legal' collection of mp3's!

    i can't wait until cable television takes this approach. i would love to pay per channel rather than having a whole slew of junk that seems to grab my attention.. let's see, discovery, comedy central, learning channel....

  • 950 Million?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quantaman (517394) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:02PM (#3689256)
    Okay I don't know how big this industry might be but 950 million sounds a little high seeing as how there are only 6 billion people on the planet.

    That might however work if this is corrcet
    The IFPI said this means that almost 40 percent of all CDs and cassettes sold around the globe are pirated copies--the highest proportion ever recorded by the organization.

    However I suspect that the vast majority of those were from Russia, China, and other countries who generally arn't too respectful of US copyright law and arn't directly effected by the DMCA.

    However, declining prices kept the total value of the unauthorized CD market nearly flat, at an estimated $4.3 billion worldwide in 2001 compared with $4.2 billion the previous year. Because those numbers use the prices for pirated discs and not legal prices, they do not measure the full economic loss to recording industry, the IFPI said


    I'm I the only one who see the contradiction. If you sell something at a lower price you often sell enough units to make up the difference, your profit is what might be lower. Iraq learned a varient of this lesson the hard way when they flooded the oil market (although I'm not sure if they have lower revenues total or just lower profits). If people never got pirated music and only bought the inflated distributor prices I suspect the difference in their total revenues would be a lot less than 4.3 billion, not greater.
    • However I suspect that the vast majority of those were from Russia, China, and other countries who generally arn't too respectful of US copyright law and arn't directly effected by the DMCA.
      That's right. According to this article [smh.com.au] "China tops the list of illegal sales, with 90 per cent of music sales being fake, followed by Indonesia (85 per cent), Russia (65 per cent), Mexico (60 per cent) and Brazil (55 per cent)."

      What's important for the general public to realise here is that this is not file-sharing piracy, it's commercial sale of counterfeit CDs. RIAA etc will try to use this report in their war against consumer rights online and it has exactly zero relevance.

      Another article [smh.com.au] on the cheaper downloads has this classic quote from the head of Australian music industry's anti-piracy unit, Michael Speck: "It is morally repugnant to allow criminals to determine the price of a legitimate product."

      This is classic stuff - the recording industry is one of the bastions of capitalism but they whine long and loud when market forces hurt their profits.
      • quote from the head of Australian music industry's anti-piracy unit, Michael Speck: "It is morally repugnant to allow criminals to determine the price of a legitimate product."

        C'mon! If the RIAA doesn't set the prices who will, how does he expect the industry to sell anything if the execs can't set their own prices...

        Ohhh... He meant the file sharing "criminal"!!

  • As soon as the record companies stop screwing artists who don't produce platinum albums with horrendous royalty rates and keeping ten times what the artists get...
  • I think it's great these companies are starting to get a clue, but for $9.99 for an album I can go to my local used CD store and get the actual CD with cover art and a jewel case. Heck sometimes if you time it right with online storefronts or heading to your local music megastore you can get the CD brand new for $10.

    Sure I can go out on the net, download the cover art, print it out, and put it in my own jewel case. By the time I do that I'm over $10 for that CD which is more than I'd have paid for it in the store anyways, not to mention the work I did.

    Most likely I'd rip the actual CD to MP3 anyways so I can play it on my home computer network (computer in every room with decent speakers), but I still like to look at all the cover art, read the lyrics, and enjoy the little extra effort that some bands put into the making of their CD inserts.

    I still just don't see how $.99 per single or $9.99 is cost effective for Joe Consumer. It needs to drop down further to perhaps $.50 per single and around $5 for a full album download before I'd bother with it.

  • A good start... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NewbieV (568310)
    At about $20 US for a CD with 20 tracks on it, filled with the music I choose to listen to, in a custom mix that fits my preferences, yeah, I could live with that.

    My biggest pet peeve with downloading MP3s now (and yes, I do) is that too much is left up to an unknown source: who ripped the original CD? Did they tag it accurately?

    It sounds like this is a good start for the record companies and music lovers to find a little common ground... as long as the cable companies don't cap us to death...

    I didn't see it in the article, but... does the actual artist get a royalty on the download?
  • lossless compression (Score:2, Interesting)

    by foonf (447461)
    If these were in a high-quality lossless format it would quite likely be worth it. But mp3 -- yeah it sounds okay, but its not worth paying for.
  • First, what bitrate will the songs come in? Ostensibly they'll come in mp3 format, if they're not going to be protected in some way. If it's 128kbps, forget it; I don't typically even warez music at 128kbps any more, and I certainly won't pay for that (lack of) quality.

    Second; If, as the article asserts, the discounting of downloadable music is a recognization that a downloaded track somehow has less value than a physical CD, I have to ask what the prices are based on. As we all know, the price of audio CDs is based on what the market will bear; it is cheaper to make a CD and put it in a store than it is to make a casette tape and put it in a store, yet they still cost more. Obviously this is based on recognition of the fact that the online market won't bear as much profit and the music industry is only going in this direction because they know that the artificially-inflated prices of CDs won't last forever when more and more people are getting CD-R drives.

    So where's the question in all this? It is thus: Whence comes the artificial valuation of music? And what is its future? Sony would seem to be its own enemy, in that it sells relatively inexpensive CD-R(W) drives (and overly expensive CDR media) and also sells music on CD which carries a seemingly arbitrary price tag which the music industry nontheless has been known to defend with financial violence, IE, they don't give new releases to stores which have dropped prices below their mandated floor. What effect do they really think selling albums for $9.99 which you are allowed to burn to a $0.40 CD? (again, more if it's sony; This is a price on memorex 100 spindles at fry's.)

  • First you assume that the 9 million CDs would and could be sold...

    Second, you take the number of people in the US who listen to that genre of music, and assume that every single one of them bought that music illegally.

    Third, you assume that everybody is a crook.

    Fourth, you realize that you really like your job in the FBI, because that makes you "they" and them "those" and you can make "them" do whatever "we" want.

    Simple administrative math. If you have problems understanding it, go talk to your System Admin... they all have the same basic course requirements.
  • by T3kno (51315) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:07PM (#3689309) Homepage
    This is $0.99 more that I am ever willing to pay a record company for a song. I would gladly give the artist the money, but never the record company. Back to good ole lopster and sending donations directly to artists.
    • I guess you buy your food from farmers, import your oil directly from saudi princes, and have your floss imported from an old lady in mexico?

      You built your own house from wood that grew on your mountain! You mined your own iron ore and smelted it in the back yard to make your dishwasher? You hand-masked your own chips onto silicon you collected in australia and built your own computer.

      Bah! Pan
  • by Ephro (90347) <ephlind@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:08PM (#3689315)

    The music industry is still trying to cover their own ass. They know they are going to lose this fight, so if they push everyone else out of the business first they can take it over like they have every other avenue.

    Supporting them now is like caving to the first offer to a street vendor in Thailand.

    I am bias and not afraid to admit it, we offer MP3s for $.10 - $.20 that are encoded at 128bit to 192bit. That's good enough to burn.

    CD Cost: ~$1.50USD


    MusicRebellion [musicrebellion.com]

    • Sorry second line should be:

      Supporting them now is like caving to the first offer from a street vendor in Thailand.
    • Supporting them now is like caving to the first offer to a street vendor in Thailand.

      Wish I had a mod point to throw at that statement...

      This is, at the end of the day, a negotiation. A very unfair, one sided, bullshit negotiation that any worthwhile negotiator would walk away from- but it's what we have. So, the answer is not to cave at all. Continue to do what we do until the other side matches us. Very simple...
  • by Geeyzus (99967) <mark_madej@y a h oo.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:10PM (#3689330)
    Let me save you the time of reading all the hypocritical comments, just read this one.

    "This is a great start, but I'm not paying [current price] for a song/album. Maybe I'd consider [current price / 2], but it would have to be available in [some other format] and at [current sampling rate * 2]. And even then, I wouldn't pay without getting [a CD / liner notes / etc]."

    99 cents a song is a steal. Let's figure there are 3 good songs on a CD nowadays (generous assumption). That's 3 bucks for a CD's worth of good songs. As opposed to 15+ dollars in the store.

    But I'm sure people can justify not using this service anyway. Hell, I will admit that if I want some song, I'll probably get it off of KaZaA (I don't really listen to much music nowadays). But I'm not gonna criticize the system, I think it is perfect, they are biting the bullet and offering us a great alternative to stealing music. If this fails, it's not the record company's fault.

    Mark
    • This whole idea is a red herring by the record company!

      When it inevitably fails, it will provide just the documentation they need to lobby their congressmen for whatever infringement of rights legislation is in the hopper. I can't wait for the Draconian restrictions to come flowing out of Washington like spring rain.

    • Ouch, didn't see that they won't be in MP3 format. Haha. I realize that this is an ironic comment considering my parent post, but no online music service will live unless they distribute MP3 files. Oh well, my bad...

      Mark
  • by MikeD83 (529104) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:12PM (#3689344)
    The music files will be avaliable in Liquid Audio format.

    "Liquid Audio files are scrambled so they can't be freely copied from computer to computer. But Universal has decided to let buyers burn the files onto conventional CDs in unscrambled formats, meaning they could be copied or moved freely from that point."

    People wants MP3s. We have MP3 walkmans, players, car stereos, stereo components. We don't want a crippled version of song no matter the price.

    Universal- will allow buring to CDs with you can then rip into MP3 format.
    Sony- will not be allowing any burning
  • They need to stop their decreasing sales.

    They don't want to invest more money in signing new bands and creating new music. So naturally they'll try to appease the masses and get the semi-legit folks that have downloaded illegally, to pay for their music at the rate most people have been saying they'd pay for music.

    If that doesn't catch enough fish in the net, then they'll lower the price further, or have discounts, or anything that will get a majority of people to actually pay something for the music they probably already have gotten for free.

    Then they'll switch to the standard tactics of screwing over everybody once they've gotten us back in the mindset that we need to pay for this stuff.
  • by fahrvergnugen (228539) <fahrv@NOSpaM.hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:15PM (#3689370) Homepage

    It's regrettable, because this is a step in the right direction, but this won't fly.

    The article mentions that the tracks discussed by Universal are to be in Liquid Audio format.

    (More about them is available here [liquidaudio.com])

    Closed-format music that I can't play in non-Windows operating systems or in a dvd or car cd deck that can decode mp3 CD's doesn't interest me in the slightest. MP3 succeeds because it's portable and small. Liquid audio files may not be very large, but they're not portable at all (except to Rio players).

    By the time I've converted to CD and then ripped to mp3 again, I've spent way more than $1 worth of time, and I'm inclined to just go get an mp3 rip of the song and have done with it.

    Sorry guys, try again. They're halfway there, but it's got to be MP3, or bust. The really depressing part of all this is that when this fails, it will fail because the dirty thieves on the internet want something for nothing, not because they tied themselves to a wrongheaded proprietary format that nobody asked for and nobody needs.

    • The really depressing part of all this is that when this fails, it will fail because the dirty thieves on the internet want something for nothing, not because they tied themselves to a wrongheaded proprietary format that nobody asked for and nobody needs.

      No, when this fails, it will be because they tied themselves to a wrongheaded proprietary format that nobody asked for and nobody needs. There will always be dirty pirates that want something for nothing, and there's nothing that will change that. The exact customers that would really make this a success are the going to be the ones that reject it, simply because they are using a wrongheaded proprietary format.
    • It's worse than you think. Liquid audio is ceratinly of lower quality than CD audio. This means that liquid -> wav -> mp3 = shitty sound quality.
  • ... was a Gone Jackals CD.
    Why?
    I couldn't find it online. Not on Napster, not on IRC, not on the web. Anywhere. Only place I could get it was some obscure online CD store. So I did.

    What use is cheap music downloads if it's just the latest crap out of boy-band-du-jour? You can download that from anywhere free. Sell the bands that weren't quite as heavily advertised. Bandwidth is (well, marginally these days) cheaper for bands who won't sell high volume of CDs.
  • Incredible Numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darkwiz (114416) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:17PM (#3689386)
    Honestly, I cannot FATHOM that the number of CDR's they claim were seized actually were. Honestly, if 2.8Mega CD's were confiscated, where was the news coverage of the busts? I have never once heard of any of these busts on the news. There would HAVE to be at least a few big hauls of confiscation that would warrant news coverage. Hell, every time someone gets caught smuggling a couple of pounds of pot in, it gets news coverage.

    The source of the data is missing from the Yahoo story, does anyone know who's ass this data was pulled from?
  • Is Liquid Audio... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tester (591) <olivier,crete&ocrete,ca> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:24PM (#3689443) Homepage
    It should be noted that the files are NOT released in a open format, but in Liquid Audio.. For which, to my knownledge, there is no Linux player. So its still a Windows-only format..
  • I particularily like the "sob story" in the large caption on page 6 of the PDF report:

    I have seen pirate copies of my album sold in the street and it hurts to see the fruits of your hard work stolen on every corner. Since Ukrainian artists cannot make money selling their albums, they are forced to give endless concerts to survive.

    Maybe he should come here to the USA, where the vast majority of artists can't make any money from their albums either, once all of the expenses are deducted from their meager royalties.

    The question on my mind about the MP3 download is if the labels still deduct 10% from the artists royalty to cover "breakage" of the albums in transit, stores, etc?

  • According to the report, money from pirate CD's is going to support the drug trade, as well as organized crime.

    Naturally, this means that the people who produce the content for those pirate CD's are to blame.

    It's time to stamp out the source of this evil money pit. The artists!
  • As someone who has downloaded music for about 7 years now, this finally seems like a good idea. I have strongly opposed paying 16 bucks for a CD, but with singles at 99 cents and albums for 9.99, I'll most likely take a look at what they offer. If they offer crappy unknown groups then forget it, but if they actually sell the music that is popular and well-known then they have my money!
  • There has to be a catch - every bit of news about the recording industry that has come out over the last several years has gone to prove that they just Don't Get It. And now they're doing someting that seems clueful?

    I don't like it. The other shoe must be ready to drop and it'll be mind-bogglingly stupid of them - it has to be, or I just might have to start changing my mind about the labels and giving them my business again!

    Seriously - if the major labels will release music in a high-quality digital format, sell it to me for a reasonable price, and then let me burn it to my heart's content, I will be more than willing to buy it. Most of the music I've grabbed off Gnutella is the occasional single of something that's catchy, but just not worth buying a whole album for, or stuff I have already on LP. If you charge me a reasonable price, I'm actually happy to pay for it instead. No problem.

    Right now the ridiculous economic and distribution model the RIAA member companies rely on encourages piracy. Make it cheap and easy to buy music and do what you want with it, and most consumers will be honest. The only danger I see is that these companies fought unrestricted music so long and so hard that consumers have started to see P2P networks of music as a resonable response. It'll be interesting to see if folks change their habits.
  • My favorite quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrResistor (120588) <peterahoff@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:44PM (#3689579) Homepage
    From page 7 of the IFPI document:

    Since Ukranian artists cannot make money selling their albums, they are forced to give endless concerts to survive.

    I guess I should feel bad... except that this is the situation for all musicians everywhere, regardless of piracy. Musicians don't make money selling albums. Period. Especially musicians who have signed a recording contract.

    Having been a musician myself, I have only one response to Katya Cilly: If you hate playing music so much, go get a real job.

    I don't support piracy, but honestly, I never cared about it with regard to my own stuff. The point of recording music is so that other people can hear it and enjoy it when I can't be there to play it live. If somebody bought my CD and made copies for all their friends, great! Maybe all their friends would come to my next show. Nothing compares to playing a live show. That's what being a musician (or any kind of performance artist) is all about. If you don't like doing it, then being an artist is not the profession for you, and you should look for something else.

  • by conan_albrecht (446296) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @05:45PM (#3689594)
    This is an old problem in research that has already been solved by the "Rhino problem". I'm not saying this is the method they used, but it might be of interest to some of you.

    The problem is how to count the number of Rhinos in the wilderness when you know you can't find them all and count them.

    The solution is to capture 100 Rhinos. Tag all of the Rhinos and then release them. After a period, you go back out and capture another 100 Rhinos.

    Let's say that out of the one's you've captured, 10 have your tags on them and 90 don't. From this you can extrapolate that you have 10 times the number of Rhinos in the wild than you originally tagged, or 1,000 Rhinos.

    Don't know if they used the method or not, but its normally accepted as good research methodology.
    • Neat, but flawed.

      Here's how a physicist measures (for example) the area of a circle:

      Take the circle who's area you want to measure (diameter D, for example) and draw a square around it (side length D). Now shoot bullets at the whole bloomin' mess so that they are evenly (randomly) distributed over the figures. The ratio of the number of bullets that landed inside the square to those that landed inside the circle and that should proportional to the ratio of the areas of the square (easy: A=D*D=D^2) and the unknown circle. In other words,

      Acircle = D^2 * [# in circle]/[# in square]

      From this, we can conclude that the RIAA shot bullets at their customers, proving that anyone who isn't a pirate is now dead.

      Q.E.D.
  • In the pirate report (the last link to a pdf file) IFPI says that amount of pirate CDR recording increased in Denmark during the year of 2001.

    However, it was recently made legal to make digital copies of CDs and it has been so for the entire year 2001. You can even borrow CDs at the library and copy them at home legally.

    It is still illegal to sell such copies, so it is possible IFPI is right and danes are too stupid to just borrow from the library and friends, and instead buy copies of real pirates. But it doesn't seem likely.
  • by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:12PM (#3689844)
    If Sony and the other labels had offered this low-cost downloadable music option a year or two ago I think it would have revolutionized their business model and been a roaring success.

    Unfortunately, they've left it so late that I fear (like others who have posted here) that it will fail.

    Why?

    Simply because music theft has become an "acceptable" activity in the eyes of too many Net users.

    Pirates have learned to justify their activities by citing figures that indicate the recording artist sees only a tiny percentage of the sticker price for CDs.

    If the recording companies had moved in while there were still pangs of guilt associated with the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted music then they could have pulled it off.

    I predict that some people will opt to buy legal downloads (just like some have signed up to the subscription-based online services offered by record labels) - but the vast majority will continue to get their music for free.

    This is unfortunate for all concerned because it means that we'll all end up paying more for our music.

    Just watch the demise of the audio CD within the next two years.

    The recording companies will force everyone to move to a new format with built-in DRM. Okay, so it won't affect hardened pirate (nothing ever will) but the recording industry will go ahead and do it anyway -- and we'll all end up having to buy new players just to gain (legal) access to the latest releases and paying the premium required to offset those development costs.

    The solution?

    The recording companies should give the damned music away for free!

    No, I'm not kidding.

    Let's face it -- they're effectively doing that every time a music vid screens on TV or when an FM station plays a track. Sure, there's a fee paid for each public performance -- but there's nothing to stop people from recording those broadcasts and burning them to disk or CD. Hell, I've got a great (and growing) collection of MPEGs containing all my favourite music videos. When it comes to "pop" music, I just capture what I want from free-to-air broadcasts and burn it to VCD or SVCD. I don't have to download MP3s -- I just record the audio and video track.

    Artists and recording companies should put all the music on the Net for free and switch to other revenue streams.

    What other streams?

    1. Product endorsement (how much does Britney Spears make from her Pepsi commercials??)

    2. Live concerts. Let's face it -- how does any recording artist justify earning millions of dollars for a few weeks in the studio cutting a new album?? Perhaps they could do some *real* work for their money -- just like the rest of us have to.

    And there are an armful of other revenue streams that could be generated by giving away free music.

    Perhaps it's time that the recording industry realized (just as the manufacturers of carbon-paper, horse-shoes and vacuum tubes had to) that the market has changed and old products and business models may no longer be valid.

    The MPAA will have to take the same long look at itself -- and perhaps actors will have to realize that a couple of months work simply isn't worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@nospAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @06:50PM (#3690055) Homepage Journal
    "I have seen pirate copies of my album sold in the street and it hurts to see the fruits of your hard work stolen on every corner. Since Ukrainian artists cannot make money selling their albums, they are forced to give endless concerts to survive." Ukrainian artist Katya Cilly at the International IP Conference, Kiev, February 2002
    This is an interesting quote. I've thought for some time that the decline in the cost of replicating data has been driving artists back to "the old ways". Consider that up until about 100 years ago, the only way to survive as a artist was "to give endless concerts". Not only musicians, but poets and artists made a living by public performances of one sort or another.

    I suspect that the 20th century will be viewed as an aberation as we move to a "Star Trek" economy of art, where no one watches TV anymore (or listens to the radio, etc). Instead, people will prefer to attend live performances, usually by firends or family, occasionally by a recognized star. Like the Grateful Dead always did, recordings will be used primarily to introduce someone to a performer; the "true experience" will be the live concert.

  • What I want. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nebby (11637) on Wednesday June 12, 2002 @07:57PM (#3690456) Homepage
    I want a program I can download from the record companies that will scan my MP3 directory and tell me how much I need to pay to legitimize my collection. They don't have to encode music for me, pay for the servers and pipe for me to get music, I can get my MP3s through my own means. I just want the license to legitimately listen to what I want on my computer, MP3 player, etc. I will even deal with the shitty quality.

    There's no reason that they couldn't charge me $0.05 per song or less. Hell, it's resonable to expect that it's $0.99 for the first ten MP3s, $0.50 ea for up to 100, $0.05 for up to 1000, and a penny thereafter. No cost to them, no loss, it's basically free money. Now, if/when I ever get audited for my music I come up green and not red on their Good Boy/Bad Boy list. Everybody wins, except probably the artist, but then again, they're the ones who sold their rights to the music. It's a fucked up system, but this would at least appease two of the three parties in the tight spot.

    Regardless, until then, CDs are too overpriced and inconvenient for me. Call me a bastard, I'll deal.
  • by Bjarne Bula (11937) on Thursday June 13, 2002 @12:22AM (#3691668)
    Calling that little PDF hand waving is being too generous, it's fraud. Notice the little bar graph about "disc piracy" and how CD-Rs are fuelling the growth of piracy?

    Well, take another look, this time at the cute pie graphs. You'll notice that while CD-R piracy increased from 165 million copies in 2000 to 450 million copies in 2001, cassette piracy dropped from 1.2 billion to 900 billion.

    Out with the trusty HP calculator: 450 - 165 = 285, and then 1200 - 900 = 300. Oooh, look at that: 285 < 300. Cassette piracy dropped more than CD-R piracy increased.

    Lets add in the pressed CDs: 500 million in 2001, 475 million in 2000. That would mean an increase of 25 million. So, takin all formats into account, we have an increase of 10 million. A whopping 0.5% increase from 2000!

    Gee, wonder why they didn't include cassette piracy in that bar graph, huh? Would have spoiled their party.

    Now, if my sources are correct, the annual growth of the population of the world is somewhere around 1.3% annually, which is more than 0.5%. I guess this means that piracy per person, at least where physical copies are involved, dropped.

    But of course, the goal is to levy tax on CD-Rs as "compensation" to the music publishers, so why look at the facts?

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