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Music Media

Goodbye, Liquid Audio? 153

gosand writes "Yahoo is carrying the AP story that basically says that Liquid Audio's days are numbered. The board voted unanimously in favor of a $57 million stockholder cash payout. They would rather sell the company, but if there is no buyer then they would probably have to liquidate the company. Liquid Audio indeed. There have been other Slashdot stories on this topic, but this could be the last one."
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Goodbye, Liquid Audio?

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  • Well.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    I'd rather see it sold/iquidated than crash and burn. Good go though, in what is rapdily moving out a niche market, it's good to see companies actually present themselves as viable corporate entities, even if they couldn't take on the big boys :(
  • by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:37AM (#4855075) Homepage Journal
    But then, maybe AssetsandHardCurrencyAudio would have been a better name. Seriously, this is sort of sad.
  • ...Liquidated Audio?

    *smirk*

  • Apparently they haven't realized that we can find any music on the net...
    There are so many streaming servers around that you can prolly find anything you wanna listen to.
    More important, maybe consumers aren't ready to download music from the net. I mean, what percentage of people browsing will prefer to buy music from a company, then either listen to it online (meaning you hafta TURN ON the comp to listen to it !) or burn it, thus taking the time to burn the track (ok, not a long time, but still...)
    I'd rather go to the nearest diskstore & buy some CDs that will have a nice cover...
    • ... what percentage of people browsing will prefer to buy music from a company, then ... burn it ... I'd rather go to the nearest diskstore & buy some CDs that will have a nice cover
      I certainly prefer downloading just the songs I want and burning my own mix CDs. I'd happily pay $0.99-$1.50/song for just the songs I like rather than $15-$18/CD where I invariably only like a few songs on it.

      But I want an MP3 file, i.e., a non-propriatary file format, that I can do whatever I want with it. With Liquid Audio's scheme, you had to download songs in their (or Microsoft's) proprietary format, burn it to a CD, then rip that CD to get an MP3 -- a pain in the ass.

      And I couldn't care less about the CD cover artwork. I buy music to listen to it, not look at the package it came in.

      • Absolutely.

        I have what I call my "three song rule", which means I'd never buy a CD unless there are -at least- three songs on it I know I really like. There are just too many one-hit-wonder CDs out there to go around spending $15-$18 for just one good song. If I could download individual tracks that I -knew- I liked for $1 each in MP3 (or even better, OGG) and burn a CD that way, I would. That alone would be worth saving the time it takes to find a high quality and complete MP3 from WinMX or Kazaa.

        However, even the MP3 format isn't quite non-proprietary. MP3 requires licensing for both playing and encoding. I would like to see the OGG/Vorbis codec increase its saturation, but it will be a -long time- before OGG gains enough popularity to even come close to taking over MP3's market share.
      • try allofmp3.com - download mp3 or ogg, pay per bandwidth used.
        they seem to accept paypal.
        make sure to become a vip member.

        warning: they are in Russia, and so your agreement
        is subject to their laws.
        • try allofmp3.com - download mp3 or ogg, pay per bandwidth used.
          How do you know you're simply not paying them for songs they've stolen?
          they seem to accept paypal.
          But PayPal is evil.
          they are in Russia, and so your agreement is subject to their laws.
          As opposed to them being in New York state and being subject to New York state law?
      • "But I want an MP3 file, i.e., a non-propriatary file format, that I can do whatever I want with it."

        If you want a non-propriatary format that you can do whatever you want with, certaintly don't go with MP3.

        If you want CD Quality, download CD quality audio. Downloading an MP3, burning it, then ripping it, then converting to MP3 is worse than spinning analog tapes generationally.

        There are non-lossy audio formats that exist. Shorten format can compress audio on average to 1/2 its origional size. This may not seem like much, but its enough in today's world. There are also other formats that are royalty free that do lossless compression at very good ratios such as 1/2 or even 1/3 (though, I forgot their name, but one or two do exist).

        MP3, OGG, WMA, RA, etc.. were all designed to be the final product in your audio device, not the end user's master copy. If you purchase music in lossy-compressed format, you are buying less quality than you could purchase in full quality. these formats were ment for end users to rip/encode for usage in other technology, and for convenience. Sure, its good for downloading, but not when you have to pay real hard earned cash for low quality audio. What if you want to use your purchased MP3 to put in your low memory mp3 player? You must convert the 256+kbps stream into something closer to 128 or less in order to fit a decent amount of audio on the 64MB memory stick. If you do that with MP3, you are screwed. Ogg has capability to do this without generational loss, however it is not fully supported in current implementations.

        In closing, if you pay money for MP3's et al, you are getting shafted because there are alternative higher quality formats for the same royalty prices. Maybe when the RIAA decides to package everything in compressed (and by that time, probably encrypted as well) format, then and only then will that be the highest quality available for consumers. Untill then, I'm sticking with uncompressed songs for my master copy.
        • If you want CD Quality, download CD quality audio.
          I never said anything about "CD Quality" in my original post.
          Downloading an MP3, burning it, then ripping it, then converting to MP3 is worse than spinning analog tapes generationally.
          Yes, I know. I never said I actually did this.
          MP3, OGG, WMA, RA, etc.. were all designed to be the final product in your audio device, not the end user's master copy. If you purchase music in lossy-compressed format, you are buying less quality than you could purchase in full quality. these formats were ment for end users to rip/encode for usage in other technology, and for convenience.
          Yes, I know. Your point?
          Sure, its good for downloading, but not when you have to pay real hard earned cash for low quality audio.
          192Kbps is good enough for me.
          What if you want to use your purchased MP3 to put in your low memory mp3 player?
          I never said I wanted to do that. Even if I did, I wouldn't own a cheap-assed MP3 player with low memory.
          I'm sticking with uncompressed songs for my master copy.
          Goody for you. However, in my post, I was talking about me.
  • Serves 'em right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:42AM (#4855103) Homepage
    Maybe they should have embraced more platforms than just Windows. Every time there has been a story on /. about Liquid Audio, many people bitch about linux or mac support. They should have listened, then they'd (theoretically) have a few more customers. Frankly, IMHO, if you are going to be an internet/internet based service company, you'd better support all internet platforms or you're just bound to fail (unless you are M$).
    • While I think you're being a little harsh, I have agree with you on another level.

      It seems to me that a lot of the new "Internet audio" companies that are endorsed by the major music industries have been overgoing a very slow and very painful evolution.

      Phase 1: We've got music - but you can only listen via Windows and Internet Explorer, and you must be connected to the Internet for it to work.

      Me: Fuck that - I'm an OS X geek.

      Phase 2: All right, now we've got music you can download - but it only works on the original machine you bought it at, and you have to be connected to the Internet to make it work - and you have to be using Windows and Internet Explorer.

      Me: Fuck that - have a Powerbook I like to put my music on, and I'm not always connected to the Internet.

      Phase 3: How about this - you still need Windows and Internet Explorer, but we'll let you burn CD's - but you can't rip them to MP3.

      Me: Fuck that - I've got an iPod, and I want to carry my music with me.

      Next phase will probably be: All right, you can have portable music but only if you use a WMA file for it. And you have to pay a monthly subscription.

      Me: Look, how about you offer each song I want for $1 to $2 each (depending on newness of the song, length, etc) at 64-320 bits MP3 encryption, and keep a record of what I've bought so I can downoad it whenever I want.

      Them: But...you might let others listen to it! Oh, well, - I guess that online music sales don't work. We tried.

      Me: Arrrrgggghhhh!
      • by BigJimSlade ( 139096 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @01:20PM (#4855733) Homepage
        Dear Recording Industry: feel free to implement this at anytime...

        A music professor of mine said that he thought the music industry would improve if it went back to a "singles" market (ie: Don't put out a whole album of crap if you've only got one or two good songs). This is the way it was in the 1950s and 1960s. This makes perfect sense for downloadable music. I see two real problems with these a la carte tracks right now.

        Number One: There is not an easy way to pay for something online that costs so little

        Number Two: Traditionally, you have paid for a tangible product that you hold in your hands... a work of art, if you will.

        I suggest the following to counteract this:

        If the music industry truly want's to treat online music as a service, how about $0.10 - $0.50 a track. You don't get unlimited downloads (except maybe a way to resume a download that did not complete or something) At this price, who cares if you lose it? You can just download it again really cheap. It's probably not even worth most people's time to back it up to a CD, but it's certainly something they can do.

        Now what about the micro-payment problem? It's simple: pre-paid music cards. They work for telephone service quite successfully in the US and for cell phones overseas. Why not sell a $10 card at the local convenience store (or even at something like Tower Records to start with) that works like a phone card and allows you to download whatever music you want! Maybe you get even more "download credits" for buying more at one time (a la Dave & Busters game cards... the more money you put on at one time, the more credits you recieve) Special incentives can be offered to frequent downloaders, etc.

        • You don't get unlimited downloads (except maybe a way to resume a download that did not complete or something)


          Simple, easy-to-implement solution: your money buys you a certain amount of time (six hours? 24 hours?) in which that file is available for you to download. A click-through legalese document says that you assume the risk of making sure your download worked, and backing up the file after it's been downloaded.


          They give you six hours (or whatever) so even a modem user can retry once or twice if he's having temporary problems downloading (lousy connection, computer crashed part-way through, etc.). And they implement the permissions by storing a cookie on your computer with a session ID; the *server* stores the "time left in download window" information so that hacking the cookie won't do you any good. This also defeats people E-mailing the d/l link to their buddies or putting it up on a Web site (a really savvy person could E-mail the cookie along with the link URL, but this will stop 99.8% of the kiddiez who might try this).


          I've seen a system like this work for delivering software across the 'Net: you pay and you get a temporary download link. Seems like it should work just fine for music as well.

          • Anyone who's got a PDA and has bought any software from http://www.handago.com knows how this can work very well. I can go download the software any time I want, I just have to authenticate myself by giving them the last 4 digits of the credit card number I used.
          • They could make it so if you know the contents of the cookie, you can download more songs no problem until all the time is used up. This will stop people from copying the cookies to their friends machines because doing so would allow their friends to steal their downloading time.
        • Your professor was probably right. But I can't agree about your two "problems". Even including distribution costs, a CD costs about 20 cents to its producer, excluding the jewel case, fancy cover printing, etc. I see no good reason why music companies couldn't make plenty of cash selling "doubles" (remember, singles always had B sides) on mini-CDs with monochrome labels in paper envelopes for $2.00-3.00 each. Their margins would be only slightly lower than now...

          No, the real problem is that consumers are willing to pay $18 for a product that has about $1.00 in per-unit cost: no sane government-imposed monopoly (c.f. copyright extensions, music licensing laws, attempts to make the folk music industry pay, etc.) would want to mess with a market like that (unless they were sufficiently not-evil).

        • The most downloaded things today are singles. Only people with High-speed connections have the time to download a whole alblum. Releasing just one single will hurt the music industry because they have a choice of waiting 5 minutes or waiting for it to ship and still pay money for it. At least with the alblum they get songs they would not be able to here(56k only)IMHO.
        • I think it's funny when people suggest a price-per-track of $.50 or even $1.00. The music industry isn't interested in doing things on-line unless it drastically increases their revenues. Since the MSRP price for a CD is something like $17, and since if people could just buy the track they wanted, they'd only buy probably 2 or 3 off most albums, I doubt the music industry will ever offer downloadable tracks that can actually be used for anything (i.e. mp3's you can burn to CD and download to portable mp3 player), for less than $4 or $5 per track.
        • ...or so I've heard. I read about it here on Slashdot, but I can't find the link. Some company in Canada is selling prepaid porn cards in convenience stores, for accessing porn websites. This could definately work for music.

          As they say, the porn industry drives internet technology like nothing else!
      • Your last statement is basically what pressplay has done. Except that it's $1 or less per song but you need a subscription - still, if you buy much music at all it can come down below $1 a song including the subscription price. Oh, and they don't do anything smart to keep track of what you bought (well, they probably track it but it doesn't help you) - realistically you need to burn to CD and re-rip unprotected everything you buy to get the full value out of it. But it's getting so much closer to reasonable.
    • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:16PM (#4855268)
      Maybe they should have embraced more platforms than just Windows. Every time there has been a story on /. about Liquid Audio, many people bitch about linux or mac support. They should have listened, then they'd (theoretically) have a few more customers.

      Like Loki, the games company, you mean? The unpleasant fact is that Slashbots make a lot of noise about free-as-in-speech but their behavior indicates that free-as-in-beer is all they really care about. If it cost more to port to Linux than can be made by paying customers, then it would only accelerate a company's demise.

      Ah, you say, but if it was Open Source, it would outlive the company! Sure it would, but what kind of a business model is it when you actively encourage your users to withhold their support and circle like vultures waiting to devour the products you've invested your time and money in?
      • My only argument against that is the same one for Mac games: time.

        I honestly believe that Loki fell, not because Linux geeks "don't want to buy software", but "don't want to buy 6-12 month old games". There's a huge difference. I have both a Win98 PC, a PowerMac, a PowerBook, and all 4 consoles (GC, Xbox, PS2, GBA).

        Now, if I already have Max Payne for the PC, what's going to make me want to buy Max Payne for the Xbox - 6 months later? Or the Mac version - another 6 months after that?

        Games are more of a "gimme now" effect - usually the first version of a game released for any console does the best. (Odds are, I'm willing to bet that the Xbox version of Dead to Rights will sell better than the PS2/GC versions, only because it preceeded the other two by 6 months or so).

        So I'm afraid I can't accept your argument that Loki fell because "Slashdotters don't want to pay" - I've noticed that most Linux folks don't mind paying for things if they need to. So $50 for a game now, or $50 a year later for the same game that might or might not run on your favorite flavor of Linux (if you get it running at all - that was my biggest problem with Loki games - I could never get the Linux versions to run anyway because I'm not "elite" enough.

        But that's just my opinion - there's a kernel of truth to your comment, but I think there are more factors than you were willing to look at.
        • Re:Serves 'em right (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dave_bsr ( 520621 )
          This guy knows it. I don't buy games just because I can play them on Linux. I buy games because I want them, and being able to play them on Linux is really nice, cuz I won't have to boot into that other operating system I keep around for gaming. But- I'm not gonna pay more money for a later game just so i can play it on Linux / Xbox / other system.

          Go Blizzard's way with mac's: release a hybrid version and people just might pick it up.

          Note: UK2K3 is one such game, I hear...which absolutely rocks. Go buy it.
        • Your argument is correct, IMHO.

          I recently went from Windows to Mac, and the time difference of games being released for both platforms is amazing, from 0 days (Warcraft 3) to years (Aliens Vs. Predator).

          One problem is why should I pay $50 for a game for the Mac (or Linux) when the PC version is in the $5-10 bargain bin? I ran across this problem with AvP, why pay $30-40 for it when I can get the same thing for the PC for $10? or for $40-50 I can buy the newly-released AvP2 for the PC? Or Star Trek Elite Force, I can buy that just when everyone and their dog has forgotten completely about it.

          The other problem is that if its an online game and assuming the version I get can network play with Windows users, what users will be around after 6 months to a year? Mainly diehards. Not a great place for a beginner.

          Console games are different, there's another whole world of gamers out there for consoles, either those who can't afford/don't want computers for the kids, or those who don't want to hassle with the games on a PC. I have a Mac, but don't have an Xbox. I want to try out Halo, but I'm not going to buy yet another console just to do it.

          Games for consoles just didn't compare to PC's to me. I usually went for Flight Sims/RPG's, and back in the 8 and 16-bit console days, there was a world of difference between the PC's Ultima and Falcon AT, and the NES's Zelda and Top Gun. That's not necessarily the case now.
        • well the Linux thing is worse than that. Witness Quake 3 on Linux from Loki. Production difficulties (IIRC) pushed it back from the Windows release, missing the Christmas window in most retail locations. So most Linux gamers, being dual-booters, just bought the Windows version and decided to hold tight for the patch id Software promised would be coming after Christmas (and quite a while after Christmas as it turned out). As a result, the Windows version sold about 95% of the copies, Mac just over 4%, and Linux just under 1% of the copies sold. Given that most places I know would sooner carry Linux games than Mac games, that's impressive for Mac and debilitating for Linux (I got these figures from an id Employee - Carmack, I believe - posting on Slashdot regarding Loki).

          And despite the fact that this statistic is three years old now, it's still used by marketing department of game companies to make decisions. Quake 3 was pretty much the closest thing to a good test of the Linux/Mac/Windows market, though still not right. If a game were to come out and have boxed copies of all three platforms I mentioned on the same day in all stores then that would be a good test, but that hasn't happened yet. Neverwinter Nights was going to be it but Infogrames went with that 95%. Warcraft 3 said two out of three ain't bad, and Unreal Tournament 2003 did ship with a Linux client in the box but it was unadvertised and marketing gurus don't put too much real faith in registration cards.

          • id software runs a keyserver for all their games and 3rd party games that use the same key technology (mainly to prevent piracy, your key is similar to your userid/password. but it comes printed on your CD case). They could simply check the operating system used when authenticating the key since everyone who playes the game online must authenticate with the keyserver.

            Since quake3 was a multiplayer only game, this would work great. return to castle wolfenstein is a single and multiplayer game, but most people that bought it bought it for multiplayer, so this could work just as well. the id keyserver could record to which key which operating system is attached, and gain data like that.

            This might not show everyone, but itl be damn well better data than the numbers id got from their Q3 release non-simultaneously for PC/Mac/Linux. that is for damn sure.
            • that's fine for the developer's statistics, but the game company only cares about what sells, not in what people might be running it on. In the case of id Software, who is going to develop the game for different platforms anyway, it's not a big deal - they could have delivered the three platforms in one box. If you're Bioware and you're trying to convince your publisher that it's worth the effort to hold off on the finished product of Neverwinter Nights until you can finish the Linux and Mac ports, you need the numbers of people who would actually not buy the game and have that be a significant number. While the Slashdot and Mac crowds are very angry that NWN still doesn't have clients for their platforms, the fact that it sold quite well "despite" only being for Windows isn't hurting the feelings of Infrogrames/Atari one bit.
        • Games are more of a "gimme now" effect - usually the first version of a game released for any console does the best.

          There are two kinds of games. The "gimme now" games, and the "gimme all the time" games. Personally, I prefer games that are built to stay. Not all games are.

          For the games that are supposed to be one-shot art experiences, the first platform to play them on is sufficient. But for games that are supposed to be actually played and played and played endlessly, it makes sense to port the game to many platforms and buy the game for all platforms that you're playing it on.

          Loki had the sense to port only the latter kinds of games.

          I've played Nethack for almost as long as I have been using PCs - on DOS, Windows and Linux. I've played Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri since I got the game for Windows, and was happy to buy the Linux version to enable me to play it in Linux, too. (And also because the Windows version was a budget release, Linux version was a full-price game, and this is the kind of game I really wanted to torture myself with by paying the full price =) =) And undoubtedly I'll be downloading the Linux client for Neverwinter Nights once it's out, because that's again a game that will stay around.

          And yes, I'm getting Linux versions of the games precisely because excessive rebooting is excessive. The single reason I'm not an NWN addict is that I haven't bothered to reboot to Windows that often to play it =)

      • The unpleasant fact is that Slashbots make a lot of noise about free-as-in-speech but their behavior indicates that free-as-in-beer is all they really care about. If it cost more to port to Linux than can be made by paying customers, then it would only accelerate a company's demise.

        So tell me exactly why they needed to have a proprietary format/player in the first place? See, it is music, there is no need to PORT anything. There are verrrrrry widely accepted formats that work regardless of the OS (MP3). So do they release the stuff in a standard format so everyone can enjoy it? No. They monkey-fuck it so it requires their player, their choice of OS, their choice of browser, their choice of Digital Restriction Management.

        So in my vocal opinion, they didn't try very hard at launching a usable music download site, they just tried to fuck their customers in a new way. It didn't work, so screw them.

      • as given. The suggestion was that instead of embracing *only* the majority market they could have *widened* their appeal by embracing the niche markets as well, thus giving them more customers.

        You responded with the commercial failure of a company ( which, by the way, only sold physical media, not net media) that catered *ONLY* to *one* of the niche markets, thus having the *narrowist* customer range possible.

        Not the same thing at all.

        Let me ask you this, have fewer people adopted the use of Shockwave or RealPlayer since they have been made available for Linux, or, perhaps, *more*?

        Which is still alive, Real, or Liquid?

        KFG
    • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <.sether. .at. .tru7h.org.> on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:35PM (#4855353) Homepage
      > Maybe they should have embraced more platforms
      > than just Windows. Every time there has been a
      > story on /. about Liquid Audio, many people bitch
      > about linux or mac support.

      not to derail your totally valid and warranted rant here (supporting all platforms really shouldn't be as difficult as most companies make it sound), but you can HARDLY attribute the failure of a company to what platforms it supports.

      No matter what you would like to SEE happen, windows is by far the most used platform in the world. Remember the old saying, 'you can never lose by buying blue'? The same holds, for the most part, with windows. You can never go wrong by picking windows.

      If a company does fail, it's going to be due to a flawed business model, a poor product, whatever.

      But at this point in time, failing to support mac or linux is not going to be a driving point in a company failing.
      • Popularity of platform is a poor way to judge what platform you should sell to. That makes as much sense as selling a word processor to the Playstation crowd for their large numbers.

        While not absolute, I think it's safe to say that Linux users are much more web-savvy than the average Windows user. I believe Liquid Audio would have gained some headway if they catered to the Linux users. They find no problem being connected to the network, an burning CDs is child's play. Not only that, there are a lot of Linux users who would have supported them because they WANT this type of music plan to work!

        Instead, Liquid Audio spits in the eyes of Linux users and gets the appropriate reviews in return.
        • While not absolute, I think it's safe to say that Linux users are much more web-savvy than the average Windows user.

          Also, much more likely to be too young to have a credit card, or simply too poor. Linux users makes a *terrible* market to sell virtually anything to. Like an earlier poster said, OSS users expect free.

          I think it's time for OSS users to understand that not everything can be free all the time. It doesn't work. It's not universal. Not by a long shot.
    • Re:Serves 'em right (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sweetleaf ( 128859 )
      Liquid _had_ a Mac client for several years. It was dropped.
    • No. Wrong. Linux and Mac support counts for less than 10% of website traffic - in the UK, it counts for less than 1% of website traffic. I'd rather hunt the 99% of users who use Windows, not the 1% who use Apple or Linux, thanks.
    • Liquid Audio did support the Mac [liquidaudio.com]. Of course, they dropped Mac support for version six; they never supported OS X; and the download link on this page no longer actually gets you to a Mac version. But this has more to do with the company's having become completely irrelevant than with Mac support per se.

      Platform support isn't the reason Liquid Audio failed.
    • Before MacOS X was released, Liquid Audio had a player for MacOS 9. It was one of the very best MP3/Audio players available at the time. There were lots of Mac/ProTools alumnni at LA and they really wanted to promote LA on the Mac platform.

      If you want to blame someone for why they dropped Mac support, I'm probably the person to blame. When I worked there I was doing all the Mac support and I was the one who pointed out that less than 1% of our consumers (Player customers) were on Mac. A higher percentage of producers were using Mac (because of ProTools) but when LA more or less abandoned the commercial music side of the business they trickled off as well.

      Basically, the Mac Player wasn't worth the development effort it took to keep it updated because Mac users represented such a tiny fraction of the user base.

  • - Kazaa still being used.
    - Hell still hot.
  • Than loud water in my ear
  • ...the obligatory "I saw this on FC four days ago" link [fuckedcompany.com]

    And second, it pisses me off that a company's board can legally screw the company and pay itself a bonus out of the remaining cash just before they fsck it to death.

    What about all that reform the pols were droning on about after EnWorldRonCom?!
    • Re:First off... (Score:2, Informative)

      And second, it pisses me off that a company's board can legally screw the company and pay itself a bonus out of the remaining cash just before they fsck it to death.

      It's a corporation. The board--that being, the governing body elected by and composed of stockholders--acts as the "owner" of a corporation. Everyone else works for them, and the whole point of the corporation is to make them--the stockholders--a profit.

      If a company isn't making money, the owners are able to do anything legal to cut their losses and get what they can from it.

      Don't like the system? Think it's not fair? Figure out something better.
      • Don't like the system? Think it's not fair? Figure out something better.
        Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but...
        1. Drop the fallacy that a corporation's only reason for existence is to make a profit. The existence of corporations is a grant by the government for the intended purpose of benefiting society.
        2. Drop the fallacy that a corporation is a "thing" in and of itself. A corporation is not a standalone entity. It is a group of people. It should not have the same rights under any law that individuals have. If "a corporation" does something illegal is there not a person committing a crime?
        3. Ensure equal rights among all members of a corporation, not just the few fortunate enough to be on the board or have the disposable money to afford acquiring stock in the company.
        4. Drop the silly notion that the decision-makers owe nothing to the employees.
        5. Stop saying "it's not personal, it's business." It is very personal when you lay someone off. It is very personal when an employee works for years at a company, devotes much of their life to making the shareholders' lives better...then gets "replaced" with third-world labor because there are no labor laws there requiring decent living wages or otherwise prohibiting companies from employing children, slave labor, or doing things that harken back to a pre-union America.
        6. Require all people on whom criminal charges are filed to utilize public defenders...or require high-profile, high-priced lawyers to forfeit large chunks of their blood money if they don't also provide similar services pro-bono to people who would otherwise be forced to use public defenders.
        7. Et cetera...
        Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
        • Sorry to ruin your little fantasy world, but NO company exists to benefit society, unless they're a charity like the Red Cross or Salvation Army.

          Businesses exist to make money, period. That is the whole point of opening a business.
          • You poor soul...

            Your comment is exactly the fallacy I'm talking about. It needs to stop. You couldn't be farther from the truth and you don't even know it. How sad is that?

            And now, some quotes:
            Corporations cannot exist without the permission of the people. The corporation's existence depends on a charter issued by a state government, a government elected by the people to act in the public interest. It follows inexorably that corporations are allowed to exist, first and foremost, to serve the public interest. - Ralph Estes, founder of
            The Stakeholder Alliance [stakeholderalliance.org]
            The first corporations, given license to operate in the 1600s, were strictly limited in scope and power by their charters. Corporations were kept on a very short leash right through the American Revolution and the early years of the new republic. When a corporation exceeded its powers or ceased to serve the public interest, its charter was revoked and its very right to exist was nullified. -
            www.adbusters.org [adbusters.org]
            If business people resist the notion of legal change, we can remind them that corporations exist only because laws allow them to exist. Without these laws, owners would be fully responsible for debts incurred and damages caused by their businesses. Because the public creates the law, corporations owe their existence as much to the public as they do to shareholders. They should have obligations to both. It simply makes no sense that society's most powerful citizens have no concern for the public good. - Excerpt from an article Published in the January/February 2002 issue of
            And here's [fastcompany.com] an article that expresses itself fairly well.

            I'm so sorry. You are educated stupid and can't compute a timecube. [timecube.com]
    • Does it bother you that you can sell you car for scrap? It's essentially the same thing - the board (representing the shareholders) essentially own the company lock, stock, and barrel.

      • I disagree. Yes, legally as of this writing it is essentially the same thing...but that doesn't make it right.

        A corporation is more than a "thing" owned by the shareholders. This is why the term "stakeholder" was invented. Employees, whether owning stock or not, are a part of the corporation and have individual rights...among them not to be fucked over by the greed of the board because they weren't lucky enough to have money to start out with.

        What this corporate board is doing seems to me like if I bought a car, gave it to my son who worked his ass off and put his effort into repainting it, doing body work on it, and otherwise making it better, then me selling for scrap right out from under him...because, after all, I own it.

        His investment in it, although not monetary, in my opinion counts for something: just like employees' investment in time, effort, etc., count for something. Just because the law says it doesn't, that doesn't make it an absolute truth.
  • between mplayer and xmms, i dont think much people will miss liquid audio (i never heard of it before until today)
  • by base3 ( 539820 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:45AM (#4855128)
    What happens to the people who were foolish enough to actually pay money for music in this locked down, DRM-encumbered format?

    Since the company will be dissolved, this precludes anyone stepping up to ensure that this music will be playable on future operating systems, such as the upcoming Microsoft Windows Goatsex Rights Management Edition.

    The likelihood that these users will be left out in the cold without being able to use what they bought^W licensed in perpetuity is the kind of argument against DRM/Palladium/TCPA we should be pushing.

    • Liquid's strategy from the beginning was to enable customers to burn their own (standard, redbook audio) CDs of purchased music.

      If you have any Liquid tracks you have not yet burned to CD, now would be a good time.

      There have been issues with the service not working with all CDR drives. For those customers limited to on-system playback, the Liquid Player should be able to continue playing your (paid, non-expiring) content until some day in the future when OS incompatibilities prevent it from running.

      If you substantially change your system, make sure to retain the passport.lqp file. This will NOT allow you to move CDR burn permissions to your new system, but should allow playback.

      Chris Owens
      San Carlos, CA
    • Sounds like your average Joe Blow user will not have a reason to be hesitent to accept any more "DRM enabled" technologies into his life.
    • Well, I hope they lose all their music. Then they can kick up a storm with their local pollies, get on the local news, and turn public opinion against DRM.
  • I think something may have been wrong with the Liquid Core [liquidcore.com].
  • How can this be the last post? This same story will be subitted and posted again in a few weeks.

    Kent
  • There have been other Slashdot stories on this topic, but this could be the last one.

    Could more /. stories be posted with this threat? Please? Pretty please?
  • by szyzyg ( 7313 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:48AM (#4855144)
    These guys Offices were right across the road from Napster's offices..... there's something very hostile about the internet music business.
  • I want losslessly compressed audio, downloadable track by track, for a pay-per-song cost, non-crippled, in an open format. When do I get that? If I got that, I would have no reason at all to warez music any more. I'm sure most people agree with me. It's no wonder stuff like LA fails when it's not what the consumers request.
    • I'm sure that most people dont agree with you. Lossless compression is an exercise in futility. The way that music comes out of the studio is not of quality much greater than that of a CD player, as that is the distribution media. (unless you are one of those argumentative analog people) The quality of a CD is a fixed rate (44Khz in a defined frequency response range) So lets assume that you generally dont get better quailty than a CD. At the point at which your CD is played you suffer tremendous loss of sound quality. Unless you have a super hi-fi amplifier and speakers, you probabally can't hear the difference between a quality compressed audio file and an uncompressed one. Try if for yourself. Rip a WAV file and MP3 it to 192kbps. I challenge you to distinguish between them. Move the whole contraption to something like an ipod and I guarantee it. So in short, you can get this service when you create it. But dont try charging for it because your bandwidth will be outrageous and you wont find people to pay.
      • I can generally tell the difference between a 192kbps MP3 and a WAV file, but the whole point of lossless really isn't pleasing the audiophiles, but making it possible to convert into a lossy format of choice. There's a significant quality loss when converting a HQ MP3 to OGG, and the result of converting a HQ MP3 to a LQ MP3 is worse than if you had converted the LQ MP3 from a WAV.
      • On studio speakers, you can definitely hear the difference between (for example) a 2" tape master and a cd of the same music. On a regular stereo, I doubt most people could tell the difference.
      • I can tell the difference even on my crappy car stereo. There's just something about mp3 music that seems to be missing. The music sounds "hollow" if you get what I mean.

        When I play the regular cd, the music has presence, and you can immediately tell the difference.
        • I dont know for a fact, but that definitely sounds like something that could be solved with a proper EQ setting. I dont know how you connect your MP3s to your car, but if it is some high resistance analog adapter thing, that's the first thing to look at.
  • Buh BYE! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by rot26 ( 240034 )
    Thanks for coming, it's been real, it's been great, but it hasn't been real great.

    And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, ok?
    • Why should we care? Liquid Audio to me was only another annoying, proprietary, DRM mess. Never helped me on my Linux laptop or Mac Cube. RIP.
    • Liquid audio was always a pain in the butt. Songs would be outside their "play dates" so after 6 months or whatever, your files would suddenly not play. Argh, they bit so hard. Death to Liquid Audio, thank you very much.
  • Unethical Stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaytonCIM ( 100144 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @11:55AM (#4855182) Homepage Journal
    Liquid Audio sued two dissident shareholders, including MM Companies Inc., for allegedly violating federal securities laws in their efforts to block the online music company's planned merger with media distributor Alliance Entertainment Corp.

    The merger died last month and two MM Companies executives now sit on Liquid Audio's board of directors.

    Liquid Audio's suit against MM Companies has been dropped, Doig said.


    Does that seem a little unethical to anyone else? Maybe what is killing Liquid Audio is poor management and outside investor influence.
    • Maybe what is killing Liquid Audio is poor management and outside investor influence.

      Oh no, the people that OWN THE COMPANY are exerting their influence.

      I don't know what you believe in, but I think the owners of a company should have COMPLETE control of a company, irrespective of them being "outside investors" or not.
    • The company exists for the outside investor; that's the whole point. It's not like a bunch of people with money decided to erect management their own private fiefdom within which to while away the days. Liquid Audio existed at the bequest of the shareholders; if those shareholders have something better to do with their money, then it's entirely their right to liquidate the whole thing.

      Probably what's killing them is the usual: making something that people don't want to buy. It's impressive that they've hung on this long; it's even more impressive that for once the shareholders aren't going to let a company continue to pine away and die like they usually do.

  • by mikers ( 137971 )
    Would Liquid Audio be a good purchase for one of these here big '5' labels?

    They are the ones who are using this stuff the most. I could see one of them buying it (or a puppet technology company owned by some company that all the labels have their fingers in) just to continue along the 'all your music are belong to us'.

    This might just be a ploy to get the labels with to cough up some money by threatening to take away their favorite DRM technology.

    Might work eh?

    m
  • FMJ (Score:5, Funny)

    by All Names Have Been ( 629775 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:07PM (#4855232)
    There have been other Slashdot stories on this topic...

    ... there are many like it, but this one is mine.

    With apologies to Stanley Kubrick.
    • Wonderful movie, wonderful director.

      Unfortunately though, you can't give credit for that line to Kubrick.

      "My Rifle" is a poem much older than FMJ. Don't know who wrote it, but the USMC has been having recruits learn it for decades. I'm post FMJ, but they sure made me learn it... I've forgotten the listed author.

      I'd guess putting it in the film was Ermie's idea.

      As were most of the best lines. Part of the genius of Kubrick... he'd found that his (former DI) consultant could just rattle off amazing rants at the drop of a hat. Not only that, but he scared the hell out the actors. So he gave him the part, and told him to let it rip. :)

  • Well no wonder (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:09PM (#4855241)
    From their web page:

    "OUR SITE IS OPTIMIZED FOR INTERNET EXPLORE (sic) 4.X OR BETTER AND NETSCAPE 4.X OR BETTER"

    Ignoring the AOL-ish use of capitalization and the misuse of the word 'optimized', I'm using Galeon 1.2.6, which I think is better than either one of those, but I still can't get into the site.

    I guess their non-sighted customers aren't important either, since the above notice is provided as a gif.
  • ... about liquidating Liquid Audio.

    That is all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:21PM (#4855288)
    Liquid Audio sold its intellectual property to Microsoft in September. If the company goes under, you'll see support for their format in a Windows Media Player Update or Plugin.

    http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,105501 ,0 0.asp
  • This just goes to show that another service with crappy audio streaming is going down the toilet. I'm not paying for an audio service unless it delivers 16/44.1 sound or BETTER. I don't use kazaa or any of that dumb mp3 stuff, Id rather have the quality of my sound. Betcha when someone comes out with a way of nicely streaming 24bit sound then the music service will do well, until then see ya...
    • What you fail to realize is that you probably do not make up a very large section of the market at all. And while I'm sure that LiquidAudio would have absolutely loved to have you, WookieOnTheRun, as a customer, I honestly doubt that any company is going to fail or succeed based on whether or not you are a paying customer.
  • Liquid Audio was a fair attempt, but with competition both from the free filesharing networks, and a reluctance from the music industry to support new technologies that might challenge - or at least confuse - their existing business models, LA never really had much of a chance. Indeed, towards the latter period of this company's history, it seemed more content to persue lawsuits than attempt to dig itself out of a hole it was already too deep within to climb out.

    All of which is a pity - a genuine Internet based electronic music (and content in general) distribution method that can raise revenues and other incentives for artists while making it cheap and affordable for people to obtain content is a wonderful thing. It can happen, it must happen: Distribution costs right now far out-strip revenues for artists (typically a few percentage points of the cover price of a CD will go to the creator) while prices continue to rise as the costs of bricks-and-mortar delivery methods rise above and beyond inflation.

    Challenging the status quo - creating new networks that independent artists can use and which afford reasonable benefits for those who would otherwise have not the time to produce wonderful content - will not happen by itself. Resources need to be devoted, and unless people are prepared to actually act, not just talk about it on Slashdot, nothing will ever get done. Apathy is not an option.

    You can help by getting off your rear and writing to your congressman [house.gov] or senator [senate.gov]. Tell them that open, non-proprietry, content distribution are important to you - that you believe it is important for strong alternatives to the existing music distribution systems exist so that all voices are heard, not just those a small minority feel are the most profitable. Let them know that SMP may make or break whether you can efficiently deploy OpenBSD on your workstations and servers. Explain the concerns you have about freedom, openness, and choice, and how locked up networks destroys all three. Let them know that this is an issue that effects YOU directly, that YOU vote, and that your vote will be influenced, indeed dependent, on his or her policy on open distribution networks.

    You CAN make a difference. Don't treat voting as a right, treat it as a duty. Keep informed, keep your political representatives informed on how you feel. And, most importantly of all, vote.

  • Curious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:25PM (#4855312) Journal
    This seems curious, given that Microsoft just bought [theregister.co.uk] 20 or so of Liquid's patents for "digital watermarking, content distribution, audio encoding, loss-less compression and transferring audio to digital playback devices". Maybe Liquid was just trying to raise cash, but where MS is involved one has to wonder if there's something else afoot. Maybe they told Liquid to sell or they'd stomp them. Maybe Liquid knows that their days are numbered once the beast gets into the business. Maybe Liquid feels that DRM is a lost cause and is getiin' while the getin's good. I've got a headache, so someone else can do the math, but this has to be more than a coincidence.
    • The writing was on the wall back when Windows Media 4 (I think) came out in 1998. Microsoft was entering into direct competition with Liquid Audio and LA pretty much knew it was fucked.

      LA certainly gave it the college try in attempting to bring major labor music to the masses, but they failed. Pretty much entirely due to a lack of cooperation from the major labels who were constantly trying to hedge the various internet music companies agaisnt each other. They didn't want to end up being "locked in" to a particular company like what happened with MTV.

  • some rumors leaks leading to this liquidation?
  • by TPS Report ( 632684 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @12:43PM (#4855421) Homepage
    Liquid Audio's days are numbered [...] The board voted unanimously in favor of a $57 million stockholder cash payout. They would rather sell the company, but if there is no buyer then they would probably have to liquidate the company.
    Interestingly enough, I was reading this month's issue of CPUmag [computerpoweruser.com] , and they said Liquid Audio [liquidaudio.com] had already sold the majority of the patents they hold [liquidaudio.com] - to Microsoft [univie.ac.at]. MS is letting them (indefinately?) use the technologies and patents Liquid Audio came up with, but Microsoft owns the patents now. Yes, really. Now that I see today's story, I wonder what company they had in mind to "make a $57 million stockholder payout".. :) I'm sure there's at least a few patents MS will find useful enough to include in Windows Media Player 9.x. Did anyone else notice that Windows Media Player 9 is not uninstallable? [com.com] Welcome to step one of forced Digital Rights Management. Step two, coming soon: The "do not enable DRM" checkbox in WMP will accidentally disappear in future versions. Step three: Welcome to Palladium [cam.ac.uk]. Fun times. :)
  • Another crippled proprietary format bites the dust!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      IN SOVIET RUSSIA the _dust_ bites the crippled proprietary format!
  • My company (Score:2, Informative)

    by cherrypi ( 71943 )
    My parent company (AEC - I work for allmusic.com) was in talks to merge with Liquid Audio... purely for a cash infusion into the company, but the stockholders wouldn't let it happen (in exchange for AEC stock - which in the long run probably would've been better than this nominal cash payout). Just something you should know if you're interested.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Folks,

    I worked at LA for a couple years (during the boom years through the IPO).

    First of all, Liquid was fairly revolutionary - back in 97 (pre-broadband, cd writers were burning at 1x speed and fairly expensive) we were distributing compressed music for playback and cd creation.

    It was sometimes difficult - Gerry Kearby, the CEO, was not always easy to work with and was always courting the music industry. He once said "Empower those in power," while also espousing an "empower the little guys" ideology. That conflict was frustrating - we had a chance to become the premier indie online record distributor but instead were constantly fighting with the majors to distribute their music.

    LA was also a mix of antiquated and visionary. MP3 was added _after_ Dolby AC3 and AAC compression - again, siding with those in power while the populace went for the simple solution.

    Complicated licensing, expensive ($20k+ servers), and other such issues slowed adoption. Plus, a purchased song was priced at $1 or more - basically the same price as a physical copy - without liner, art, etc. So you could pay more for less or you could napster it, which is what most people did.

    It was a wild ride - I wish GK and crew had went further with enabling creation and distribution and less into property rights, but I enjoyed it. Not the mention the perks - jam sessions, Electric Barbarella 24x7, and busting webmoves with MC Hammer's webmaster! =)
  • There have been other Slashdot stories on this topic, but this could be the last one.

    I'm pretty sure there will be another one. Oh, it depends if you are drawing a distinction between 'postings' and 'stories'.
  • No Mac OS X version. Plus it was not digital music lover friendly, they started to come around though. Just give me a service like eMusic with a better library. Hell I'd even wait two months after new stuff comes out before they post it for downloading.
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Tuesday December 10, 2002 @06:48PM (#4858698)
    Broadband. You can't listen to shit with 56K analog, and the vast majority of all Net users don't have anything coming even close to an uncapped, unlimited high speed pipe. I would have gladly paid for it when I had a job that had broadband. Hell, I used quite a bit of streaming audio when I worked (mainly launch.com), but as soon as I got home, fuck it. They were waaay too early. Something like this will fly in about 10 years when broadband is more ubiquitous then it is now.

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