Rock on ... for a price

Another "all you can eat" music service enters the muddied waters.

The general lameness of "subscription-based" on-line music services has been addressed in These Very Pages in the recent past. Napster's "all you can eat" model really chews goat when you realize that you are paying 180 bucks a year for music that you do not own. Hope springs eternal however, especially with the venture capital crowd, and a familiar name has jumped into the subscription fray. The Yahoo! Music Service (yes, that Yahoo!) is following the same model as the "new" Napster, but at the cut-rate price of seven bucks a month - half the price of Napster. It's even cheaper (five bills a month) if you pay for a year up front.

Sounds like quite the deal ... five dollars a month for all the music you can download. But - some of the basic problems with subscription services remain:

- you can only use a media device or desktop player that uses Microsoft's "Janus" rights management system. So no iPod, Linux, or OSX users need apply.

- it costs a lot of money from the vendor end to get on board with Janus. You wont find anything from small labels or indie artists here. Mainstream dreck only.

- you don't own the songs, so you can't back them up or burn them to permanent media unless you pony up an extra 79 cents per track.

- you don't own the songs, so if you stop subscribing, your songs stop working. Opt out after two years and you have paid 120 (or 154) bucks for, well, nothing.

- you don't own the songs. Period.

So where will this fit in? Who knows. Napster has been doing about zero business, and the level-headed would think that this would end up in the same boat. Dimwits and simpletons are everywhere, though, and a lot of them use Yahoo! so the brand might be the key here. I am reserving judgment on any possible success or failure until I see where the wind is blowing.

Did I mention that you don't own the songs?

Posted: Wed - May 11, 2005 at 07:44 PM