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Music Media The Almighty Buck

Real Cuts Prices for DRM-Restricted Music 633

Flint Dragon writes "A story on MSNBC details RealNetworks' next step in converting iPod users from iTunes to their own online music store. Not only can you play music downloaded from their site on your iPod now, you can, for a limited time, purchase music for 50% cheaper (.49/song, 4.99/album)! This is the price that I'm willing to pay for. Too bad it won't last..."
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Real Cuts Prices for DRM-Restricted Music

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:19PM (#9993523)
    To get me to use Real. They'd have to start paying me, and even then it would take some convincing.
    • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:33PM (#9993714) Homepage Journal
      I hear you! With all of the spyware in Real's software and other annoying features, they've lost my trust and that of a lot of other people. As it stands, I only use Real Player when I absolutely have to. And since I'm pretty happy with my iPod and ITMS as it is, I won't be switching anytime soon.
    • Yup. (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think of Real as more or less of a spyware / adware company that packages their crap with a marginally useful media player. To me, no better than KazzaGold. And, since it's marketed to the same crowd of users (i.e. the AOL crowd), I end up paying very little attention to what they are doing at Real.
  • Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aliencow ( 653119 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:20PM (#9993532) Homepage Journal
    Cause we all trust real enough to give them our money even though we don't trust them enough to install their crap.
  • Step 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:21PM (#9993540)
    Hopefully step three is supporting Macs. For me, that's the ???? before step 4: Profit!!
    • by danielsfca2 ( 696792 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @05:07PM (#9995317) Journal
      When I go to using Safari 1.2, I get a page about RealPlayer 10, which makes no mention of, and has no links to, RealPlayer music store or Harmony. When I visit the same URL, spoofing as "Windows MSIE 6.0" (aka "TEH INTARWEB BROWZOR") I get a big promo about Harmony and the .49/song sale.

      Pretty sure there's no Mac OS X version of this whole Harmony thing.

      Does anybody know how this Harmony thing works? Does it import the songs into iTunes so you can play them in iTunes/sync them to iPod as normal? Or does it make you do a separate sync to put the Real songs on the iPod, restricting you to playing them only on the iPod and RealPlayer?
  • Losing Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:21PM (#9993544)
    I thought that these companie barely even made a profit at $1 per song. A limited time low, loss-inducing cost might attract customers for a while but the low switching cost between services means that they won't stay when prices going up, especially if your sound quality is not as good.
    • Re:Losing Money (Score:5, Interesting)

      by daviddennis ( 10926 ) * <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:31PM (#9993674) Homepage
      It's an intentional loss to promote their software. Right now they're losing about 3-4c a share and this is going to widen those losses by about 1c a share.

      I don't think it was a very smart move, to tell the truth, but I suppose I could say it's gutsy.

    • Re:Losing Money (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
      They make no profit because the Producers are charging too much for the music. Eventually price will lower as the producers are forced to bow to demand, or at the very least to not raise prices in the face of inflation.

      The truth is 0.50 a song sounds about right to me now. with expected inflation rates, I would expect it to stay that way for the next 7 years.

    • Re:Losing Money (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ProgressiveCynic ( 624271 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @03:25PM (#9994268) Homepage
      You've bought into the big lie. The cost of producing a great album with modern technology doesn't have to be more than $100,000 - and many great indy records are made for much less. The reason the majors will spend up to a million on production usually has to do with pure waste and greed. (See the Adventures of Mixerman [] if you'd like an insider's view.)

      Since selling digital music requires no manufacturing and only moderate amounts of hosting and bandwidth, the ongoing costs should be as minimal as the initial production costs.

      Anyone who tells you they can't make money selling you digital music at $0.50 each is lying. Movies cost between 10-100 times as much to make as any album of music, yet the studios all recoup their costs (including manufacturing and distribution) from a measly $20 charge.

    • Re:Losing Money (Score:3, Interesting)

      by twofidyKidd ( 615722 )
      It's like magazine subscriptions. Sure they'd like you to pay for the subscription, but at $10 a year for Wired, for instance, it's at the bottom of their list. They want eyeballs, and lots of them, to justify their prices for advertising space to folks like Sony, Chrysler, Nissan, Subaru, BWM, you get the idea...

      Real is trying to get eyeballs to justify their advertising space. Their clientele? BMG, Warner, Sony, EMI, you get the idea. You think they make money from kids buying mp3s? No? Well do you thi
  • ipod problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted&fc,rit,edu> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:21PM (#9993545) Homepage
    Some how I don't think their conversion-to-iPod feature is going to last, at least not once the new revision of iPod software comes out.
    • Re:ipod problems (Score:3, Insightful)

      by almostmanda ( 774265 )
      The idea is, if enough people download music from Real, Apple CAN'T break the compatibility, or they'll anger/alienate a whole lot of people who paid for worthless songs. People will skip the update just so their songs still work. That's what Real is trying to accomplish with the sale...getting a sizable chunk of ipod users to download their songs so that Apple just has to deal with it. I applaud Real for making efforts to be more compatible instead of in the past, when they made efforts to lock us in.
      • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) *
        All Apple has to do is send out a warning that music purchased from other places not selling MP3's will not work, then throw the switch...

        I think the majority of people would blame Real, not Apple - they know where they bought the songs from. It has the potential to be a huge blunder for Real with very little risk for Apple should they decide to counter.
    • Re:ipod problems (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wo1verin3 ( 473094 )
      Apple has already stated this as their intention:

      'Stunned' Apple rails against Real's iPod move []

      Apple threatened to block access to the iPod using Harmony the next time it updates the software used to run the device. The company last week unveiled the fourth generation of the trend-setting music player.

      "It is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods," the company said in its statement.
    • Re:ipod problems (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dasmegabyte ( 267018 )
      Which brings up an interesting point: Apple could easily destroy the effectiveness of this clever sale by tossing a one-off feature into an update that ALSO breaks the shit out of Real's hack.

      Result? People can't play any of the music they paid for, and Apple can shrug their shoulders. "That's what you get for trusting a hack."

      And nobody will ever use Real's service again.
  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:21PM (#9993548) Homepage
    But I'd refuse to take DRM music even if it were free. The Audio Home Recording Act gives me the right to make backups of my music, to make compilations of my music, and to share those compilations with as many friends as I'd like, as long as I don't charge anything.

    ANY system that interferes with those rights is unacceptable to me.
    • by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:27PM (#9993624) Homepage Journal
      But I'd refuse to take DRM music even if it were free. The Audio Home Recording Act gives me the right to make backups of my music, to make compilations of my music, and to share those compilations with as many friends as I'd like, as long as I don't charge anything.

      ANY system that interferes with those rights is unacceptable to me.

      You must like the iTunes Music Store, then, since their version of DRM allows all of that to be done. Right?
    • by farzadb82 ( 735100 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:27PM (#9993635)
      The Audio Home Recording Act gives me the right to make backups of my music, to make compilations of my music, and to share those compilations with as many friends as I'd like, as long as I don't charge anything

      IANAL, but sharing music, regardless of charging anything or not is still a copyright violation. you are, however, permitted to make backups of my music

      • Actually, if you read the act this is all fairly permissiable.

        However, it is specicificallly talking about taped copies and doesn't deal with digital works.

        The digital stuff is a whole different ball game.

        However, I can legally tape some stuff and give it to you.
        • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:02PM (#9994653) Homepage
          "The digital stuff is a whole different ball game."

          That assertion is the heart of the matter. But, it is only an assertion. WHY is it a whole new ball game? If analog tape tech had progressed to the point that perfect copies were possible, I would give good odds that the assertion would not be made. The courts had decided that tapes were legal, and people were familiar with the right to make a copy.

          The assertion is based soley on the premise that digital copies are perfectly reproducible, and therefore a greater threat than lossy tape. I call that premise specious: few people made so many generational copies of a tape that the loss of quality became onerous. The taped audio was adequate.

          The assertion of a difference between digital and analog copying is an artificial one designed to reopen the debate about copying we had thought dead as canasta twenty years ago. And it has been a successful one, but not on the merits. Twenty years ago, politicians didn't require the vast amounts of cash they must use today to get elected and stay that way, and twenty years ago the lobbyists were nowhere near as professional and formidable as they are now.

          I deny their assertion, so the only argument they have left is this: support us, or we come after you and rip you from office. It's an effective one. L. Ron would be proud.
    • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) * <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:27PM (#9993636) Homepage
      You may not be in the minority in Slashdot, but in the overall world, I'd say you are.

      I will point out, though, that the DRM conditions of iTunes music are not as ardurous as you think. You can, in fact, burn a CD with your music on it and that CD is then free of restrictions. You can copy the music to any number of iPods. You can also play the music on up to five different computers, so making a backup of your music is not an issue at all.

      I play my music on my home computer, work computer and laptop, and I'm happy as a clam.

    • That's why I only started using iTunes after Hymn came out.
    • by SirStanley ( 95545 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:33PM (#9993702) Homepage
      Could you please explain to me how you can't do this with DRM'ed music?

      1. YOu can back it up as many times as you like. Right now i have 1 bought DRM song on 3 different computers.

      2. YOu can make compilations. iTunes even provides a nifty little playlist generator

      3. iTunes lets you also burn copies of your play lists TO CD!~!!! or you can hook up your stereo out to a tape deck and go old school with mixed tapes!!!! The DRM does not prevent you from doing this.

      It does prevent you from sharing the raw source of the file with your friends. Since there is no digital compilation format you can't exactly send an mp3 digital compilation to people unless it was one giant file. But who wants to do that?

      You're an idiot.
    • I totally agree with you. DRM music is totally useless. I rarely play music on my PC and when I do I usually stream sites anyways. To have my music locked to say my windows computer only... is absolutely useless for me. What about my mac laptop? What about my car stereo? What about potential mp3 type players I might use in the future? What about my Linux computer at work? What if I want to take some music on a CD into a friends car?

      A non-copy protected CD allows me to do all this, plus the music is non-los
    • I'm right there with you. I can already buy cheaper music that can play on an iPod. No reverse engineering is needed: the format is called MP3, you may have heard of it. The prices range from free to whatever. Finding something I like involves a little extra digging, sampling, and detective work... but I actually find that more interesting than being spoonfed Very Popular Radio Hitz complete with useless yet encumbering software designed around the premise that I am a thief. I keep a few bucks in a Bit
      • by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:54PM (#9995203)
        Finding something I like involves a little extra digging, sampling, and detective work... but I actually find that more interesting than being spoonfed Very Popular Radio Hitz complete with useless yet encumbering software designed around the premise that I am a thief. I keep a few bucks in a Bitpass account, a few bucks in my Paypal account, it's all pretty easy.

        It doesn't sound like it. You said it involves, "a little extra digging, sampling, and detective work."

        Now using iTunes is easy. I don't see how that point can even be debated, the interface is awesome, the songs are what they say they are, the downloads are fast, you can sample 30 seconds of a song before buying (more than most CD stores allow), etc.

        Yet you try to marginalize it by pretending all the music in itunes is "Very Popular Radio Hitz." I'm sorry, but that is just plain old horseshit.

        Then you say that iTunes is "useless yet encumbering software designed around the premise that I am a thief."

        It obviously is not useless. For one thing, it saves me from having to do "a little extra digging, sampling, and detective work." It lets me buy music in a setting where the legality is not in doubt. It makes it easy to do all of this. Useless?

        iTunes doesn't have a "premise that [you are] a thief." iTunes is there to make it easy to organize, buy, and use your digital music.

        It may be a minority but who's spending smarter money?

        In your case, what with all your detective work, digging, etc for music, I would say you're only spending your money smarter if your time is worthless.

        Mine isn't, so I use iTunes.
    • by gnu-generation-one ( 717590 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @03:31PM (#9994323) Homepage
      "I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I'd refuse to take DRM music even if it were free"

      I'll join you in the minority, and say that I'd refuse to take DRM music even if it were free, not only because I want to copy music (preferably beyond that which is allowed by the home recording act, for those of us with MP3 jukeboxes), but also because I want to be able to play it using Free Software. What's the point of having to have a windows computer to play your music on? Why can't I play the music on the same computer that I'm working at?

      Many people won't have experienced this, but if you do ever get your hands on some good music which you can copy (I mean proper copying, without legal restriction or underhandedness), it's a totally different experience to having a CD that you can only play yourself, in your home, in one place at once, not in public, you can't send it to anyone, can't point your friends to a download of the music you're listening to, can't put it on your website to say "great music isn't it?"...

      You've been told for too long that an artist would never make any money from such music, convincing evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Don't believe it.
  • Apple & Real (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daviddennis ( 10926 ) * <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:22PM (#9993560) Homepage
    Could someone tell me why Apple is so upset about Real being able to its music work in the iPod? Apple has said their Music Store is not meant as a profit center, so isn't it better for them (in the sense of selling more iPods) that the store's compatible with Real?

    Of course this is of little interest to me since Real's not supporting Macs and I'm certainly not going to switch to Windows on their behalf.

    I don't think Real stockholders are going to think much of the bleeding, and when prices go back to $ 0.99 each I doubt that most people will stay with Real, given their software's general level of obnoxiousness and hard-sell promotion. Apple, for all its faults, has a very classy and nicely done music store I think most people will prefer by a huge margin.

    • Re:Apple & Real (Score:5, Insightful)

      by savagedome ( 742194 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:25PM (#9993600)
      why Apple is so upset about Real being able to its music work in the iPod?

      Because they have to *support* Real's format. When Real's shit breaks on iPod, the users will view it as Apple's fault.
    • Re:Apple & Real (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:32PM (#9993700) Homepage
      Probably because Apple see that in the future the store (more importantly FairPlay) *will* be the profit center. They want to leverage the best selling MP3 player (their iPod) into establishing FairPlay'ed ACC files as a standard. Set the standard, pocket a few cents from every tune sold. This is why Apple just did a deal with Moto. on iTunes and cell phones.

      There's a much better article about this that was published a few weeks ago, but I'm too lazy to look it up.
      • Re:Apple & Real (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 )
        If Apple wanted FairPlay'ed AAC files as a standard, they would have licensed it to Real.
        • Re:Apple & Real (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FatRatBastard ( 7583 )
          Maybe, but I also think that they're pushing iTunes as a future moneymaker as well. Again, this is a very formative time. Apple is in the lead (selling more downloads than anyone else) and its going to want to protect the leverage that comes with that lead. License to Real and Real can still pull this "we'll undercut you" stuff. This is *great* for users, but is no good for Apple. They want to be able to get to the point that they can dictate terms with the records labels / industry.
    • Re:Apple & Real (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clifyt ( 11768 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:34PM (#9993724)
      "Apple has said their Music Store is not meant as a profit center"

      No, but it is nice when it is...

      And I believe last quarter, they actually made about a million on their iTMS division. Its chump change compared to everything else, and not much when you consider what they are spending, but its still nothing to sneeze at because it is profitable.

      Past that, if you buy from Real, you can use any music player. If you buy from Apple, you can use the iPod alone unless you are willing to burn to CD first.

      Personally, I don't see the problem with what Apple is doing. Apple gives anyone the right to put music on their machine in a number of different ways. If they want to protect their content, maybe they should build something into the iPod that doesn't require the use of Apple's intellectual properties. After all, its a bit hypocritical to steal someone elses IP to protect your own.

      I've never seen Apple get pissed off at the Linux on iPod project...I know at least one Apple guy that has this running on one of his iPods and thinks its cool. So -- if you want to build your own OS for the device, Apple isn't stopping you...

      But I agree with ya -- Apple's online service is much better than the competitors who all had much longer in the business of content delivery including paid content delivery and most of these companies were the 'big dogs' (how fucking hillbilly is that phrase) before Apple decided they were going to get into the system.

      Apple didn't force their way to #1 -- they made the better product both in hardware and software.
    • Re:Apple & Real (Score:3, Insightful)

      when prices go back to $ 0.99 each I doubt that most people will stay with Real

      But by then they'll be locked in to their drm system, unless they can find a way to move that music to another one. Of course this is true of ITMS as well, but at least they have the virtue of having the best interface with the widest selection.

      There are two answers as to why Apple should be upset. The first is the long boring one about how Apple is maneuvering for a central position in online distibution of media of all kin
  • how ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by insomnyuk ( 467714 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:22PM (#9993565) Homepage Journal
    I find it exceedingly amusing, and telling, that RealNetworks, after years of pushing proprietary audio and video formats, is now fighting Apple's use of proprietary hardware. They have to market to iPod users because mp3 players using Real format music have been blown out of the water.

    Its too bad their software was always ad-ridden garbage. They will have to do a lot more than a loss-leader sales ploy to get my trust back.
  • Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rf600r ( 236081 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:22PM (#9993568) Homepage
    You mean Apple might sell more iPods? That's terrible news for Apple, because we all know they really make their money selling $0.99 songs.
  • losing money? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vida ( 695022 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:23PM (#9993570)

    so these people are *losing* quite a bit of money on this; or maybe the music industry is pitching in? I am sure they are not really happy w/ iTunes getting as big as it is.

    MS conspiracy theorists will have a feast.

    *somebody* has to be pitching in... isn't real a fairly small company?

  • Good Move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hawkeye477 ( 163893 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:23PM (#9993571) Homepage
    This is a great move by Real. I will definatly be a buyer since there are many albums that I have been on the fringe of buying but have now wanted to spend 12-15 bucks on, but would def be wiling to spend 5.

    This move will help increase competition in the market and I think will be beneficial to the consumers in the long run. As much as I like Apple, I like good old competition more cause it means better products at lower prices! Gotta Love Capatalism!
  • by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) * <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:23PM (#9993581) Homepage Journal
    ..then a new 'firmware' update comes out for the iPod and your new library quits working...

    Until the dust settles I'd not buy anything from real in hopes of it working with my iPod. Not like they support my platform anyway (Mac)
  • Whatever. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wheany ( 460585 ) <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:23PM (#9993582) Homepage Journal
    Real, have you looked at your player software?

    And is there an easy way of downloading your free player without you trying to get me to download your non-free player every step of the way?
  • Capitalism works! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aelbric ( 145391 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:23PM (#9993583)
    No matter if you as an individual have issues about either of these companies. This is a good example of the free market working as intended. Too bad all industries don't compete internally like this.
  • by SynKKnyS ( 534257 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:24PM (#9993585)
    How much is RealNetworks losing money from each song they sell? The article mentions an analyst saying they will be losing money. How much of the $0.99 does Apple pay out to the record industry?
  • by tao_of_biology ( 666898 ) <tao DOT of DOT biology AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:24PM (#9993586)
    Apple "updates" the iPod?

    Real seems to be implying some kind of guarantee that their music will play on the iPod... Apple has already stated that won't be the case for much longer...

    Will users with iPods who buy these cheapo songs be left holding the bag (a bag of useless songs), or will songs they buy and upload to their iPod now work no matter how Apple "updates" their iPod?

  • by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:25PM (#9993596) Homepage Journal
    And still morally wrong and illegal to steal. How do we expect the RIAA, MPAA, etc to embrace technology when the most public geeks make comments like that? Sure music is overpriced and a lot is crap, but it's still stealing. At least iTunes and Real are going about this the right way.

    That said, I'll NEVER install anything from Real on my system. It's as bad as Bonzi Buddy to get rid of.

    Burn karma burn, slashdot inferno...
    • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:32PM (#9993697) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      Sure music is overpriced and a lot is crap, but it's still stealing.

      That's right. And we should resist the efforts of the theives who write those contracts and suck all the value out of music...

      Oh, wait. You meant that copying music was still stealing, not that music itself is stealing (in addition to being overpriced and largely crap). Oopsie. That's a different argument. :)
    • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:38PM (#9993769)
      You're right - Gnutella is stealing. I'll give back everything I stole right now.

    • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:47PM (#9993865) Homepage
      You all can use whatever moral thermometer you want to justify downloading music you haven't paid for, but it all still comes down to the fact that you take posession of a song/album that RIAA companies sell for $x.xx, but they don't collect the $x.xx from the sale of that song/album.

      And don't give me that typical crap line of "I wouldn't have bought it anyway, so I'm not depriving them of a sale." If you don't really want it, or can't afford it, that doesn't justify copyright infringement. And I fully support the RIAA's actions against you, because by your own admission, you are not their customer.

  • by overbyj ( 696078 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:25PM (#9993607)
    is the fact that Real has already announced that they will lose more money this quarter because of this stunt. (Here is the link to CBS Marketwatch: 0A42057C-77BB-4F6A-AA44-3BAF401EFEC9%7d&siteid=mkt w&dist=nbs)

    Take a look at their stock price today too and see what investors are thinking about this. (see it on the MSNBC link page). While I like the idea of cheaper music, this really smacks of desperation.

  • by EvanKai ( 218260 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:26PM (#9993614) Homepage
    Who is going to buy DMR'ed music from a company that is struggling financially with no guarantee that the RM part of the DRM will function in 6 months.

    Their ads should say...
  • All of mp3 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LilMikey ( 615759 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:26PM (#9993618) Homepage
    Bah! Still ~10x higher than And they give you the real non-DRM non-proprietary crap... Even lossless if you like.

    And their legality is just 'questionable'.
    • Re:All of mp3 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clifyt ( 11768 )
      "Bah! Still ~10x higher than "

      Bah! The music companies are actually getting paid unlike the pirates at all of mp3 dot com. You REALLY don't think its legit do you? Seriously? Its out of the same country where you can buy adobe products for $5 each from sites that look just like this and claim they are all legit as well. You can get photoshop in lossless formats as well!

      I work for musicians...they don't get paid anywhere near the amounts people think they do -- and they have to pay for p
  • by deviantonline ( 542095 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:29PM (#9993652)
    paying $.99 to download a song that contains probably less than 10% of what the cd recording contains is something that i will never do. to me, paying for compressed music is a fools game.

    lowering the price to $.49 or less per song seems more reasonable to me. people dont understand that by purchasing music online in mp3 (or equiv) format that they are ok with crap sounding music and if they are ok with that, what is going to keep record companies from spending less money on production when they know the music is headed for a compressed format anyway?

  • Almost makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zeus_tfc ( 222250 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:31PM (#9993678) Homepage Journal
    After reading the headline, I thought, "Wow, for once this makes sense." What I mean is, they are selling an inferior product at a lower cost. This is standard business practice, and as long as they openly admit to the DRM, I've no problem with it.

    Then I RTFA and changed my mind. This isn't giving the people a choice of an inferior product for a lower cost, this is a "sale" to try and win people away from iTunes. It's only supposed to last an undefined "limited amount of time." Probably until they feel they've won enough customers from apple. I guess it still makes sense business-wise, but I don't like it as much.
  • Audio Quality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Philosinfinity ( 726949 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:32PM (#9993688)
    While better audio codecs have been advanced (MP3, ogg, FLAC...) it seems that the real audio format has maintained its position at the end of the pack. While I am not such an audiophile that I feel like researching expert information on audio quality, it seems that I notice a great difference when listening to an .ra file as opposed to an MP3. Getting half the quality for half the price seems like a wash to me. That is, unless they are either distributing music in another format or have advanced their own encoding process. However, even an advance in the Real Audio format seems negligible. While it is nice that the files are currently compatable with the iPod, it still seems Real is taking the "too propritary" road. Now before I get tossed into the flamebait category, I do understand that iTunes, MusicMatch, and the rest of the competition is fairly proprietary in their own right. But iTunes, and to a degree MusicMatch, are quite a bit less intrusive applications than RealPlayer. Further, does anyone remember the user privacy sagas that Real has been through? Does anyone really trust Real to safeguard your information? I don't know about the rest of you, but Real lost my trust a long time ago. They could give out $0.01 songs and $0.10 albums, and that alone would scare me away.
  • (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:33PM (#9993713)
    I still use my ultra-cheap alternative: They operate using a Russian broadcast license...

    Instead of 99 cents a song, you pay a penny per megabyte. Often you can pay as little as 5 cents for a 128 bit MP3. Other formats and bitrates are available.

    Best part? Since it's a Russian "broadcast", the RIAA doesn't get any of it. Tasty!
    • (Score:3, Informative)

      by prostoalex ( 308614 )
      It's legal in Russia only, since Russia copied the US copyright system and allowed compulsory licenses requiring minimal fees to the labels, and basically anyone can set up a music shop. US at some point abandoned that system due to heavy lobbying ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H need to optimize its legislature.

      Thus any CD sold in Russia usually has "For sale in Russia" label on it, since technically the music is not licensed to be distributed outside of the market. Once the service becomes popular ( is another
  • Questions.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCeltic ( 102319 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:39PM (#9993780) Homepage
    Ok, I'm sure this is all covered somewhere at the two sites but...

    1. Can we copy the file we bought to different devices (i.e. PC/ipod/mp3 player)?
    2. Will it allow us to modify the format to/from mp3/wma/ogg/etc?
    3. What is the quality compared with "normal" downloads (from gnutella/limewire/etc)?
    4. Can we "re-download" a song if our copy get destroyed/lost/mangled?
    5. What other advantages/dis-advantages are there?

    • Re:Questions.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stubear ( 130454 )
      Buy the original CD and save yourself a lot of trouble.

      1. Can we copy the file we bought to different devices (i.e. PC/ipod/mp3 player)?

      This is the beuaty of ripping the songs straight from the CD. I can rip copies to AIFF or WAV and then convert these high-quality versions to any format I want, even copies of the original CD so you can keep the original safe.

      2. Will it allow us to modify the format to/from mp3/wma/ogg/etc?

      Why would you want to convert a lossy format to another lossy format? Again
  • Good for consumers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @02:48PM (#9993875) Homepage Journal

    While I have no intention of buying anything from Real (they don't support Mac OS X with this scheme), and I've never bought anything from iTMS (as I live in Canada), as an iPod owner I'm still somewhat excited -- this may be good for me as an iPod owner inn an indirect way.

    Apple has in the last few weeks released two iPod firmware updaters (one of which was released in the past week) -- but both have contained updates only for the 4G iPods. I bought my iPod two months too soon, and thus own the 3G iPod, for which Apple appears to have no interest in providing any software updates for.

    However, if things go as many here predict, Real may force Apples hand in pushing out firmware updates for the older iPods to ensure they don't work with Real's system. And to ensure users actually apply these updates, they'll have to offer some form of incentive in the form of new features or other improvements beyond breaking compatible with Real's Harmony.

    So if Apple does do something about this, iPod owners (particularily hose of us who don't have the new 4G iPod) may end up winning anyhow :).


  • by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @03:18PM (#9994196)
    The original "signatures" are entertaining: r4apple []

  • by Warlock7 ( 531656 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @03:47PM (#9994485)
    This whole thing is about DRM ubiquity. Real is scared to death of the Windows DRM so they go after Apple. Makes sense in a twisted sort of a way.

    Real and Virgin are going after Apple for "not licensing Fairplay to them". The more likely scenario is that Apple wouldn't license Fairplay to them unless they used it exclusively and both Real and Virgin have their own DRM schemes and that wouldn't help them to get their DRMs into the market. Apple licensed Fairplay to Motorola. I'm sure that it is an exclusive contract that means that more users will be using Fairplay.

    Real wants people to use their DRM and so does Virgin. So, they both complain that Apple refused to license Fairplay to them, when the more likely scenario is that Apple refused to license Fairplay to them without them agreeing to the contract, like Motorola did.

    So, Real releases Harmony, which will allow their DRM'd files to be played on the number one media player, the iPod, by faking out the Fairplay DRM software to think that the Real DRM is the same as the Fairplay DRM. Whether this is legal or not stands to be proven. Then Real undercuts the standard prices by half and sets about creating FUD about how Apple is evil and won't let them play together and starts a "freedom of music" site designed to attack Apple only. Seems far fetched.

    Virgin meanwhile attacks from their end, in France, and says that they've been shut out by Apple, the obvious monopoly (hardly) that they are.

    This is a DRM war. The one that has more media that supports their DRM out in the market is going to win in the long run.

    A couple of points that the Real site is misleading about:
    1. The price to burn a track to CD is $0.79 not $0.49.
    2. The price per album is 1/2 of what it cost before, as low as $4.99, so not all albums are $4.99.

    Seems that they are trying to open the iPod to their proprietary DRM format, which isn't really open at all either.

    Also bear in mind that Apple is guaranteed to release an update to the iPod software that will disable the Harmony software from helpiong to keep the DRM working on the iPod too.

    iTunes also has over 1 million songs in their library while Real has almost 7 hundred thousand.

    Who will win? Only time will tell. Seems to me that Real is playing dirty to try and make a minor inroad that won't pay off in the long run. How long can they support losing money in order to try to bring people over?
  • by jerimiah797 ( 801345 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:22PM (#9994865)
    Enough guesses. Here's a quick summary of how this Harmony stuff works so we can all be on the same page. - Real does not change any software or firmware on the iPod. - Real's store tracks get re-wrapped in FairPlay, then transferred to the iPod. There's no way for the iPod to tell the difference between an iTMS-originated track and a RealMS-originated track. They are functioally equivalent. - Just like iTunes, you can burn CDs from the tracks you download from the RealMS. -The download quality from Real is actually BETTER than iTMS - 192Kbps vs. 128Kbps. This means that when you burn the tracks to audio CD to 'clean'/(backup/share with your friends/whatever) you will end up with a better sounding audio CD because you have a more detailed (higher bitrate) source file. Nuff said. If you don't get it now, you never will.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)