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Labels Agree On Free Music Downloads To Cell Phones 104

Posted by kdawson
from the free-as-in-bundled dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNet's Crave reports on a potentially revolutionary digital music service set to launch worldwide later this year. It's offering free, unlimited over-the-air downloads to cell phones, with music from all four major record labels, with no subscription. And the selections that users download get automatically downloaded to their PC or Mac. Rather obviously, the tracks are DRMed, but unlike the similar Nokia service unveiled last year to much disappointment, this MusicStation Max service will have exclusive handsets from LG and no additional fees to customers. This is a little similar to an idea talked about last year, but with all four majors on-board it seems to have greater potential."
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Labels Agree On Free Music Downloads To Cell Phones

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  • by siyavash (677724) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:45PM (#22401442) Journal
    "...Rather obviously, the tracks are DRMed..."

    They still don't get it! Do I say more?
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by siyavash (677724)
      Do I "need to" say more?

      darn it, I'll preview next time! :)
    • Not Free (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goombah99 (560566)
      It's not free. It's built into the price of the handset/subscription.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ichief (1038054)
      Although I am completely against DRM when it comes to music I've purchased to own, I forsee that DRM is quickly becoming a method to apply cheaper and wider access to music, albeit with restrictions. DRM has been really beneficial to allow subscription music users to take their music on the go; with an ad-supported platform or a service or device lockdown (as suggested with the above scheme), other service providers and device manufacturers can provide you low cost or free access to music, but the files wo
      • by Znork (31774) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @05:13AM (#22403700)
        "a method to apply cheaper and wider access to music, albeit with restrictions."

        In a free market competition drives cheaper prices. Intellectual monopoly products have no competition apart from the yarrr mateys. Prevent copying (or any form of competition) and you get more expensive, not cheaper, music.

        So, no, DRM is never beneficial.
        • Well, I think what you're really arguing for isn't so much the removal of intellectual monopoly but for mandatory licensing fees. In my opinion something like this would actually be great. If you could print your own version of the Da Vinci Code, or Britney Spears, or whatever media for a certain compulsory fee to the content creator they'd be rewarded for their work and there could be distribution competition. If Google wants to create a completely free set of music that's totally Ad Supported with the co
        • by Meski (774546)

          "a method to apply cheaper and wider access to music, albeit with restrictions."

          In a free market competition drives cheaper prices. Intellectual monopoly products have no competition apart from the yarrr mateys. Prevent copying (or any form of competition) and you get more expensive, not cheaper, music.

          So, no, DRM is never beneficial.

          It was free ... So DRM makes it 100 times more expensive. 100 times 0 is still free... All the talk of free market, pirates, intellectual monopoly is so much wankery. Yes, it isn't really free - you aren't free to copy it to other devices. But I'll take free music to listen to on the one device that I can

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You may have a point, there. DRM on expensive items doesn't work, when the alternative is a free unauthorized download. However, if legal downloads become dirt-cheap, but locked to a device with DRM, the situation might change. DRM will always be crackable, sure, but if you can easily buy music directly on a mobile device at a reasonable price, it could well appear worth the cost to avoid the hassle of getting on a computer, finding what you want, downloading the stuff, and loading it onto your device after
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:48PM (#22401466) Journal
    Apparently nobody with power has been listening at the **AA, not even a little bit. I couldn't even work up a yawn for this new service, never mind enough excitement to contemplate what missing features will be on the phone and what 'extra' goodies will be there to track my every move or some attempt at that.

    ooops, there, I yawned.

    Did I hear someone just call them fucking idiots?
    • It is exciting to me in the sense that it's a small sign that some companies (LG) and the 4 major labels are starting to glimpse the potential of the technology developed 5-10 years ago.

      You're right, in everyday use, this announcement means very little. However, I see it as a social worker might see a drug addict. The addict has stopped using cocaine, but still uses acid and meth almost daily. It's a small sign of growth that could come later.

      I would accept DRM'd music on my phone if I the ability to dow
      • So, yeah I'm not holding my breath, but this is a small sign of progress.
        I'm reasonably certain that is what some of the Jews in Germany said about the new Jewish ID badge they were given.

        Yeah, yeah, I know it's a real stretch to compare the two, but I'm still waiting to see what the penalties are that come with use of the device/service. A gilded cage is still a cage.
  • Well (Score:2, Funny)

    All 4 major labels are involved, why didn't they include the part about getting sued?
  • Little Earthquakes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I do not see the little detail of advertising in the write up. There is no free lunch, even for a pre-announced product (*vapour-ware*, cough, *vapour-ware*).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This doesn't add up to me. Free downloads, no subscription fees, transferable to your home computer - so why will I need to buy any music ever again?

    What's the business model for the record labels?
    • by ipsi (1181557) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:15PM (#22401630)
      If you read the article, it does say that you'll need a special contract and a special phone. And in addition to that contract, I believe you'll need to buy an unlimited data plan as well. Woo.

      And it's not like you can put them on your iPod. If you want to use them on the computer, you'll need to use an approved player. Which I'm sure will be *fantastic*, the best *ever*!
      • Looks like an investment in this, another hard drive, and DRM breaking technology is in order!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MeNeXT (200840)
        But it's free! Sure it costs you $$$$ but it's FREE. Free I tell ya! Free! It just costs ya $$$$$$$$ but it's free!

        It's funny but that's not what I call free. What's wrong with people? How can you even consider this free? It's a service.
        • by RobBebop (947356)

          So what you are saying...

          Cons:

          1. $20 a month for an Unlimited Cell Phone Data plan
          2. 5 minutes Searching and Downloading songs on an tiny cell phone screen
          3. DRM'd music that will only play in controlled environments

          Pros:

          1. Downloading incremental songs is free (if your time is valueless)

          Sounds like the equivalent of buying a subscription to use an iPod and then download from iTunes for free. Only, the iPod is known for a crisp User-Interface, above average sound quality, and pretty good battery life. Whe

          • 1. $20 a month for an Unlimited Cell Phone Data plan

            Actually, that's crazy cheap... are there serial cables availible for these new phones?
            I wonder if they throttle soulseek.
            • by RobBebop (947356)

              soupforare,

              My estimate of $20 per month was not based on any knowledge or research and was, in fact, pulled straight from my ass. I hope this news doesn't disappoint you. I was just throwing a number out there that would make it too expensive for me to consider it.

              My apologizes.

              • No worries.
                Most unlimited data plans usually run between $50(with voice plan) and ~120(data only), for future reference.
        • by rrohbeck (944847)
          TANSTAAFL.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They will make money by sharing revenue with the mobile carriers. They have been struggling for ever to find a way to sell their data plans and now here it is.
    • This doesn't add up to me. Free downloads, no subscription fees, transferable to your home computer - so why will I need to buy any music ever again?

      It adds up perfectly well the moment you realize that this shuts out all the Independents. And the significant possibility that the four Major Labels have a deal that they're only In on this while the Independents are Out. That's a trade that I think their bean-counters would consider worth making.

  • I was excited... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ipsi (1181557) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:06PM (#22401576)
    And then I saw that it had DRM. And was limited to certain LG phones. Wow. Underwhelming, sad to say. Not that it'll appear down here, like, ever. Moving on.

    And hell, it's *NOT REALLY FREE*. You need a special contract. Oh yeah. Sure, each track is free, but you're still paying a premium for it. I don't mind that, but it's a bit misleading. Not that I'm surprised.

    They haven't even said which player will be able to play the files. It looks like Windows Media Player is a contender.

    All-in-all, not impressed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by MeNeXT (200840)
      NOT REALLY FREE because the rate plans haven't been set up yet. Once you subscribe to the plan $$$ then you can download for FREE????? How is this FREE??? Sh1t has marketing gone so far that we call this free? If that's the case I'd like to give you a car for free provided you subscribe to one of my lease services. I'll even let you choose the car.
    • Not to mention that a lot of the phone companies charge an arm and leg for data plans, even if it is small MP3 file that "free music" ends up being expensive fast.
    • So, basically, it's a subscription service, with the extra caveat of being tied to your phone? What a pain.
  • I'm not willing to download 98% of the music they produce these days, for free via P2P. However, I'm at the point in my life where I could maybe afford an album per month... sucks for them I guess.
  • Keep it (Score:2, Redundant)

    by syousef (465911)
    Dear first-hit-is-free music companies.

    Keep your DRM music. I don't want it and I don't want to get hooked on your free sample. (One day I may change phones and I'll still want that music). Nice try though.

    • You should add "redundant" to your sig. I've been burned with that one a few times.

      Go ahead mods, mod me offtopic: I deserve it ;)
  • by MeNeXT (200840) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:16PM (#22401642)
    It's DRMed service which you will pay for. Nothing FREE in any sense of the word.

    Limited songs on limited phones with limited transfer on limited equipment....

    Have it right now MP3, BitTorrent, Piratebay and my WiFi enabled smartphone...
  • by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:19PM (#22401664) Homepage Journal

    Music companies just found another tech company to take a bajillion dollars to promise them that sweet, sweet DRM.

    How many times does that make now? I can think of no better evidence that cocaine makes you dumb.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:49PM (#22401852) Homepage Journal
    Bundling some sort of a music fee into digital items is not a bad business model. The record companies get their piece of the pie, consumers can get a set of appliances where they can have their music.

    This actually isn't that different from the software model, pre-Microsoft. Software was ultimately bundled in with the hardware and service contract costs and so everyone could just sorta of copy software all over the place. Heck, Microsoft owes a lot of its success to this sort of model for Windows largely due to its lack of DRM. If Microsoft required the sort of authentication with DOS and Windows 3.1 that it requires for Vista, it is very doubtful they would be in the dominant position they are in today. DOS used to be $10!!!

    Of course, this bundling sucks for Linux and completely free software, but one could envision a distro actually having a service plan with it for DRM content. If you throw in a few extra bucks, the content plan could actually be used to help fund further Linux development. Thus, tacking a few bucks onto teeny boppers wanting to get the latest Hannah Montana on a Linux box could actually be used to help pay for things like additional FireFox, Open Office and other Linux core applications development.

    The one thing that really hurts the credibility of the music industry, aside from the obvious and vile thuggishness with which RIAA presses its claims, is that, the artist's share of the proceeds is rather small. In the CD / Vinyl days, a large cut for the industry was reasonable because of all the people that the business needed to pay to make physical copies. Now, with electronic distribution, there's really no moral reason why the artist can't get a larger piece of the pie. But as we have seen with the writer's strike, it seems that the content industry isn't really interested in promoting, well, the truly gifted people that make content, but rather, exploiting them, and that completely undermines any legitimate claim onto the advantages of copyright. The recording industry isn't really an enabler of artists, as much as it is more like the Islamic caliphs of old sitting on overland trade routes, exploiting them until the Europeans figured out how to sail around them and avoid the ridiculous surcharges.

    To have an efficient capitalistic economy, you want to reward investment in people that actually add value, and record companies don't. So, having a more consumer friendly business model won't fix the problem. Record companies have to actually pay the artists a real percentage of the music sales. IF shareware distributors can thrive taking 10-15% of a sale, leaving artists with the lion's share, then so can record companies. The situation is different with movies, which are much more collaborative and capital intensive thing, but, even there, there's no reason that the principals of a movie can't get a bigger piece of the pie.

    • H'mm, Its not really free!. To start with, the typ of DRM they will undoubtedly employ is the one that "phones home" every time you play a track. On a mobile phone, that could come to a substantial charge very rapidly. (AKA: "protected" Windoz Media files). The music will probably be preceded by advertising of one sort or another. (this could easily be tied in with the DRM phone home ability) ... Analysis of the dross you listen to would enable targeted advertising... There is no such thing as FREE, ther
      • by tjstork (137384)
        There is no such thing as FREE, there will always be a hook hidden somewhere in the bait.

        Well even "Free" software isn't really free. Its costs of development are picked up as part of a consultancy arrangement, or, through funding by companies that distribute that software as part of some other bundled service. Like, Apache is free, but its funded, IIRC, by a coalition of large ISPs that use it. They in turn recover the costs from their hosting customers.
    • by sowth (748135)

      ... It seems that the content industry isn't really interested in promoting, well, the truly gifted people that make content, but rather, exploiting them, ...

      It seems most big companies aren't interested in anything but exploiting. Take the software industry as an example. Most of them seem to be taking advantage of unknowing users. You could expand that to lawyers, auto mechanics, and so on.

      To have an efficient capitalistic economy...

      Psychopaths don't care about the economy in general, they just care

  • by Superpants (930409)
    I only wish the major labels would get some talent to make this service worthwhile.
  • by dogs4ar (1072988) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:50AM (#22402166)
    I started reading the original article, and stopped at this line:

    "Every time you download a song to your phone, the same song is downloaded to your computer for playback through your PC speakers."

    Just how the heck do they know when my PC is on, much less download songs to it? I don't want them downloading songs onto my PC without my knowledge. This service seems insidious. So you're saying every time I want to download a song, your proprietary player needs to be on a computer that's on and hooked up to the internet? Gee, there's no potential for abuse there.

    What if someone sends me a rogue music file? If the same file is downloaded to my computer, isn't that going to mess up my machine? Virus writers are going to have a field day with this. Shame on Omniphone for promoting this garbage, and what is LG thinking, buying into this deal?

    This will not replace p2p. It will barely make a dent. How can you justify charging for premium unlimited data when the same thing can be done with any smart phone on a wifi network for free? Really, these companies need to go back to their boardrooms and either disband or think of a better business model.

    I'm not worried about the DRM. Whatever DRM these files come with will be broken the day that the first music file is downloaded from this service. I just don't understand why they even bother, anymore.

    Can't teach a dinosaur new tricks, I suppose.
    • I have a small portable device that allows me to listen to music and I believe that some mobile phone already have this built in ... it's called a Radio! unencrypted un DRM'ed free music ....?

    • Just how the heck do they know when my PC is on

      Probably with the software that you install on your computer that polls their server every N minutes.

      much less download songs to it?

      How does Windows Update, Adept, etc. download updates? It periodically asks a server if there's anything new to download.

      I don't want them downloading songs onto my PC without my knowledge.

      Except you would know when your computer was downloading a song. Assuming you know what you're doing with your phone, anyway.

      So you're saying every time I want to download a song, your proprietary player needs to be on a computer that's on and hooked up to the internet?

      I haven't bothered reading about it, since I don't really care, but if the system is sane, having their software running on your computer won't be required for d

  • ...shop around, buy the CD as cheaply as possible and rip it yourself. No DRM plus a nice shiny disk and plastic case to file alphabetically on a shelf and gaze lovingly at.

    And if you think a CD has "one or two good tracks on it" then please be a little more selective in your music choice. Don't buy the dross in the charts, there are thousands of classic albums out there that are good from start to finish and are worth every penny you pay for them.

    Please don't entertain these idiot music moguls - they w

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lunarsight (1053230)
      If you do go this route, be sure to purchase albums from independent artists and labels.

      If you DO plan on purchasing RIAA-stuff, at least buy used copies. You don't want to feed the proverbial bears if you don't have to.

      In fact, these particular bears I'd love to see die of starvation. Oops - is that sort of comment going to get me in trouble with the animal cruelty people? I mean it figuratively, of course.

      No real bears were harmed in the posting of this comment.

  • isn't giving people the impression that they're now allowed to commit piracy a really bad idea, even if they are technically paying for it? I think this service will just legitimize and thus boost actual piracy.
  • And I can listen to any tune instantly, between imeem.com, last.fm, deezer and one of the other less legal sites one of them is bound to have the exact music I need. Downloads are of course needed so that the internet connection isn't continually active which will never scale.
  • DRM Sorrows (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:31PM (#22407278)
    So suppose this is a hit. Everyone gets this phone and this music service. At that point, what point at all will DRM serve, since User A thru User Z can all get the same free music?

    While the obvious answer is "None!", somehow I still suspect that DRM would remain, and User B copying a file from User A, instead of downloading it for free from the overloaded servers would still be inviting an RIAA lawsuit!

  • My cell phone battery says 'thank you'.
  • This sounds a lot like that one other site that claimed the same.. what was its name again? I already forgot. Although it does say 4 labels are already onboard.... I wonder how true that is. If so, it might work out.

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