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Universal to Offer Music for Free

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-free-as-in-anything dept.

356

wild_berry writes "The BBC reports that Universal Music has signed a deal to make its music available for a free and legally-licensed download. Available from a new music site called SpiralFrog, the deal will allow users in the USA and Canada to listen to Universal's music, which Reuters' news site reveals is paid for by targeted advertising, but no details of possible community or playlist sharing features of the SpiralFrog service. Is the immunity from litigation enough to make up for having targeted advertising on each page and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"

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Good News ... but .... (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999779)

Well, that's good news.

Now if only I were a fan of some of Universal's Artists [wikipedia.org] .

Guess I'll have to wait and see if the big companies follow suit.

Re:Good News ... but .... (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999795)

Maybe they will offer "Double Dutch Bus" for free ! (Remember that debacle on Ebay ?)

Re:Good News ... but .... (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999992)

Um, no. Details?

Re:Good News ... but .... (4, Interesting)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000039)

When iTunes was young, some guy tried to resell a song on ebay:
Here is the story [com.com] .

Artists rejoice! (3, Informative)

ndtechnologies (814381) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000188)

Now the artists have absolutely NO WAY to recoup royalties from their label. Since the money generated from this service is derived from Advertising, and NOT the sale of the music, the artist is officially screwed. If some artists had the power they could re-negotiate their contract to include this, but since most are locked in (and still trying to pay back the massive advances from the label) they won't.

Then... (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999823)

Someone please post a suitable proxy =o)

"The big companies"? (5, Informative)

Artifice_Eternity (306661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999849)

RTFA, please. At least the first sentence:

Universal Music, the world's largest music company, has agreed to back a new venture that will allow consumers to download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.

This is a big deal.

Re:"The big companies"? (3, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000076)

But what if you use AdBlock or a hosts file to block advertisers sites? They won't be getting any money then, will they?


But then I guess that's a win-win situation. People can now, finally, get something for nothing AND stick it to the music companies by not having to see/watch ads to get the product.

The only question is, and the article is short on this matter, will people be able to take the song and put it in any format they want for THEIR use?

This article [redherring.com] does say that DRM will be incorporated into the songs to try and prevent sharing of the music but that still doesn't answer the question. The article also talks about how the ads might be inserted but nothing definite.

Re:"The big companies"? (5, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000083)

download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.
What the article fails to mention is the adverising is the artists singing about a vendors product.....

I cant wait for Elton Johns new single : "Lucy in the sky with diamonds from Jarad"........ [jared.com]

Re:Good News ... but .... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999858)

You'll wait to see if the big companies follow suit?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Music_Group [wikipedia.org]

"Universal Music Group (UMG), formerly MCA Music Entertainment (see Music Corporation of America), is the largest business group and family of record labels in the record industry. With a 25.5% market share, it is one of the Big Four record labels." (Emphasis mine)

Doesn't get much bigger than Number 1.

Re:Good News ... but .... (3, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999886)

Here is a list of the universal artists that were from the wiki article, some of them seem to be half way decent, so i'm not sure what the parent is talking about :-)

2slabz (RebelRock/Universal) 3 Doors Down (Republic/Universal) 10 Years 98 Degrees* Aaliyah (Blackground/Universal) Acroma Afroman Akon Ali & Gipp Ashley Parker Angel (Blackground/Universal) The Bangkok 5 (Execution Style/Universal) David Banner Baby AKA Birdman (Cash Money/Universal) Baby Bash Bee Gees Big Tuck Big Tymers (Cash Money/Universal) Yummy Bingham (Cash Money/Universal)* Blak Jak Bloodhound Gang (Republic/Universal) Blue October Bodyrockers Toni Braxton (Blackground/Universal) Canibus Nick Cannon Chamillionaire Mr. Cheeks Cherry Monroe Tami Chynn Corey Clark (Bungalow/Universal) Jamie Cullum Crucial Conflict Currency Fleming and John Donavon Frankenreiter Mannie Fresh (Cash Money/Universal) Warren G* Godsmack (Republic/Universal) Gotan Project Pat Green (Republic/Universal) Hedley Marques Houston HIM Infinite Mass Elton John Jack Johnson (Brushfire/Universal) JoJo (Blackground/Universal) Juvenile* Brie Larson Murphy Lee Tracey Lee Lil' Romeo Lil Wayne (Cash Money/Universal) Lindsay Lohan (Motown/Universal) Lost Boyz Lumidee Teena Marie Damian Marley Stephen Marley Remy Martin Miri Ben-Ari Monifah (Uptown/Universal) Cherry Monroe Mystic (6) Natalie Nelly Nina Sky (Next Plateau/Universal) Nitty Qualo Prince Raekwon Rakim Paulina Rubio Rasaq Raphael Saadiq Shiny Toy Guns Scissor Sisters Sheek Louch Sister Hazel* Soul For Real (Uptown/Universal) Spax St. Lunatics Sticky Fingaz Tank Terror Squad Timbaland & Magoo Ms. Toi Tum Tum KeKe Wyatt (Cash Money/Universal)

Re:Good News ... but .... (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999952)

Rading that list of products^Wartists I can see exactly what that post was talking about. Except for Prince, but he's using Universal for distribution only [wikipedia.org] , just like he did Columbia before - as usual, Prince is his own world, we just dream of it.

Re:Good News ... but .... (2, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999897)


Here's a more complete list [universalmusicgroup.com] of Universal Music's artists.

Re:Good News ... but .... (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999915)

You don't like Godsmack? 3 Doors Down?

And Elton John is arguably one of the most popular recording artists ever.

Man, what do you listen to? Barry Manilow?

Re:Good News ... but .... (-1, Offtopic)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000047)

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there
She would merengue and do the cha-cha
And while she tried to be a star, Tony always tended bar
Across a crowded floor, they worked from 8 till 4
They were young and they had each other
Who could ask for more?

At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....they fell in love

(Copa Copacabana)

His name was Rico, he wore a diamond
He was escorted to his chair, he saw Lola dancin' there
And when she finished, he called her over
But Rico went a bit too far, Tony sailed across the bar
And then the punches flew and chairs were smashed in two
There was blood and a single gun shot
But just who shot who?

At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....she lost her love

(Copa. . Copacabana)
(Copa Copacabana) (Copacabana, ahh ahh ahh ahh)
(Ahh ahh ahh ahh Copa Copacabana)
(Talking Havana have a banana)
(Music and passion...always the fash--shun)

Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl
But that was 30 years ago, when they used to have a show
Now it's a disco, but not for Lola
Still in the dress she used to wear, faded feathers in her hair
She sits there so refined, and drinks herself half-blind
She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
Now she's lost her mind!

At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana (Copacabana)
The hottest spot north of Havana (here)
At the Copa (CO!), Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....don't fall in love

(Copa) don't fall in love
Copacabana
Copacabana

Re:Good News ... but .... (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000052)

Not everyone likes popular music. I may use this to pick up some BBVD, and a few others, but that's about it. And I'm fairly certain that a simple torrent would go much faster.

Obscure Music (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000063)

I don't really care 3 Doors Down or Godsmack. Elton John is ok, his album Honky Tonk Chatau is in my collection. He used to write some amazing bluesy Rock and Roll that actually felt like music. His later crap is ... well ... crap in my opinion.

If you want to know who I listen to, it's a very wide variety but I must confess I'm more prone to listen to local bands in the states, UK or Canada. Bands like The Unicorns (now Islands), Spoon, Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzales, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Apollo Sunshine, The Decemberists, Ok Go, The Golden Republic, etc. I really appreciate indie rock these days. Prior to that, all I lisened to was jazz, blues and classical. Anyone from popular artists like David Bowie, Bob Dylan & The Beatles to Nick Drake, Procul Harum & rare works. I'll always enjoy Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, etc. And the classical artists I enjoy are seemingly infinite.

I see that Dispatch is a Universal artist and I love them so maybe there will be some songs I will go there for. I just hope it's all done in reasonable quality and doesn't require a standalone client application that I have to install. I hate those things.

Re:Good News ... but .... (0, Troll)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000078)

You don't like Godsmack? 3 Doors Down?
No.

Seriously, I looked through the whole wikipedia list, and there's not a single band I like.

Man, what do you listen to? Barry Manilow?
I like Snow Patrol, Moth, Utada, Subways, Relient K, Ani Difranco, etc. This whole music for ads thing sounds interesting, but wake me when they have some good music.

What a load of crap (1)

tritonman (998572) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999931)

The ads are probably 30 second annoying junk you have to listen to before the song starts and of course, the list of artists is probably not very good. I can imagine they will put all the lame artists that they are trying to promote on this program and reserve the *good* ones for 30 second samples that you only get to listen to after 30 seconds of ads.

Re:What a load of crap (4, Insightful)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000034)

30 second annoying junk you have to listen to before the song starts and of course
um, so how does this differ from a radio station? (or radio station broadcast over the net / satellite radio?) Obviously there is an 'on-demand' aspect, but really.

Free music *check*: ads *check*: crappy artists *check*:

If it looks like a duck.... then yeah. its not too much different than radio.

Re:Good News ... but .... (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999984)

Now if only I were a fan of some of Universal's Artists.

Ick. That must be why they're free.

WILDCAT IS ON TEH SPOKE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999804)


Pay vs Adverts? Easy Choice (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999806)

Mr Kent, the former head of the Universal McCann advertising agency, added that his research suggested that in return for free music, young people would be willing to endure adverts - as long as the brands and products were relevant to them.

I am one of the young people he speaks of, because I would more than willingly parse thru adverts in order to get free music, as opposed to having to pay for it.

What makes you think those are the choices? (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000012)

Pay vs adverts?

What most people will continue to do is ignore itunes and spiralfrog and simply continue downloading the music for free.
 

Re:What makes you think those are the choices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000138)

I will. I will, because I haven't seen anything I'd want to listen to in the list. (And it's a list of everyone signed on their label, not of the artists whose songs will be there for free.)

Ads? As long as they are not IN the songs (but on the website, or in the proprietary software you need to get them - and NO popups, thank you - just a banner, as in MSN Messenger), okay.

Or, as long as I can edit them out of the songs, and am able to do so for at least 20 at once. (With a custom program, or a script using SOX or such, whatever.)

I prefer the EFF's idea... I'd adapt it into "okay, if you take a 100G/mo contract, we inform you that 5% of the fee goes to the MPA/RIA" at the ISP level. (And sue non-complying ISPs into oblivion once they (MPA/RIA) will have bought a law to be able to do precisely that.)

Re:What makes you think those are the choices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000246)

Or just use emusic [emusic.com] . No DRM, Mp3, way cheaper than iTunes. I love it.

Enough ads! (3, Interesting)

Cybert4 (994278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999819)

I've tried to take a stand against ads myself. I'll subscribe to whatever I need, as long as I don't see ads. The way I see it, subscribing to slashdot (for example) puts money towards content and away from useless ad people. The only ads I want to see are when I do a google search. That's it! I'd rather subscribe (or even better, donate). I'm sick of the ad culuture, and it's got to stop. I won't be using this free music source because I already subscribed to Urge (plays for sure). At least more of that money is going to artists. With this, you have all sorts of ad brokers taking a cut.

Re:Enough ads! (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999956)

That's the great thing about capitalism. If you don't like it you can always walk with your wallet. No one said Universal is going to get rid of CDs. Don't like ads on TV? Buy the season DVD.

Incase you haven't noticed not a lot of money goes to the artist. If artists want more money they just need to switch labels / start their own. Whats that getting a bad deal from indie labels? Well, then what hte records companies are offering artists is the BEST deal.

Re:Enough ads! (1)

Cybert4 (994278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999981)

Or buy HBO stuff. Buying a season DVD of the Simpsons, for example, will only make them think they can make more money selling ads. When Family Guy was brought back, it wasn't on HBO.

Re:Enough ads! (2, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999987)

The way I see it, subscribing to slashdot (for example) puts money towards content and away from useless ad people.

And the money the "useless ad people" give to slashdot and other sites in exchange for page space, what does that go towards, spoons?

Chew on this: the "subscription only" model is the elite and priveleged track. Ad-sponsored sites allow anyone with web access, even from a public terminal, to be "empowered." Think of all of Negroponte's poor, starving 100-dollar laptop children; don't they deserve free, legal music too?

Re:Enough ads! (1)

Cybert4 (994278) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000143)

By giving directly to Slashdot, 100% of the money goes towards content creation. Buy viewing ads, a lot of the money goes to people who create and broker ads. Where does it come from? The prices you pay for the advertised products. People who design and broker these ads are dead weight--money not going to innovation.

Re:Enough ads! (2, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000185)

D00d, you didn't answer my question; here it is again, ad-free for your enjoyment: Should the content on the World Wide Web, and, by extension, entertainment in general, be available only to those who can pay 'extra?'

Re:Enough ads! (1)

Cybert4 (994278) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000202)

What about donations? What about rich people running sites? Ads aren't the only game in town. Look at wikipedia. Look at the BBC even (taxpayer funded).

Not being able to copy the music? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999822)

So when they realize we are able to copy the music, what happens?

Re:Not being able to copy the music? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999855)

An insightful AC...what a concept. I suppose it's fittingly in the conversation about *satan* realizing the market has shifted...

Seriously though, the concept of free downloads, but not writing to CD or transferring to portable players? That will cause the motivation to crack the encryption it's laced with...


Re:Not being able to copy the music? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000023)

Seriously though, the concept of free downloads, but not writing to CD or transferring to portable players? That will cause the motivation to crack the encryption it's laced with...


And, of course, there's nothing to stop you from taking your newly cracked music file and opening it up in say, Audacity [sourceforge.net] and then subsequently editing out the adverts.

From there, you'll start to see them appear on various P2P file sharing networks, and the cycle continues...

Re:Not being able to copy the music? (4, Insightful)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000081)

Er, isn't the music already available on P2P networks? I don't think transcoded crap from DRM downloads will make it in the P2P world when direct transcodes from CDs are already available.

Re:Not being able to copy the music? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000132)

The adverts are on the web pages serving up the song files, not in the songs themselves. I don't think *anybody* would deal with that. Just started fiddling with Audacity this weekend....me likey!


Is it enough? (4, Insightful)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999825)

Yes.

Ads are only a minor issue, I have seen ads all my life I know how to ignore them.

The proponets of free content will whine... but this way the record company gets what they want (money) and the consumer gets free (of cost) music.

Nothing ever has been truely free, if you aren't buying (or stealing) something someone else is paying to put it in your hands for there own reasons. That is the way the world has worked for a long time.

Re:Is it enough? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000036)

but this way the record company gets what they want (money)

Ad-supported websites haven't exactly been raking in the dough.

and the consumer gets free (of cost) music.
...that they aren't allowed to do ANYTHING with.

With TV and radio stations spending 1/3rd of their airtime on commercials, it's questionable if people will put up with the number of ads the RIAA is going to need to fund this idea.

The idea has potential, but I'm not exactly optomistic.

For me, cost isn't the issue. (2, Insightful)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999833)

Cost isn't the main issue I have with digital music. Freedom is the main issue.

I want to be able to play the music that I purchase on whatever device I choose. Period.

If I can't do that, then I won't participate in the service.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (2, Insightful)

Duds (100634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999859)

If it's a free service you haven't purchased anything.

I suspect I'll leap on board this, it might even inspire me to go get the odd CD. I'm with you though, as soon as they expect money, I expect freedom.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (5, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999925)

I'd like to violate every agreement I make for short-term benefit too, but I don't justify such desires on grounds of "freedom".

They produce the music so they can make a profit. I'm sure it would be great if everyone worked for free, but they don't.

The produce it knowing that they can sell it with certain conditions attached. Then they sell it with those conditions attached. Then people start to claim their "freedom" is being violated, and that they have the right to unilaterally violate those conditions.

Sure, music companies "should" just "trust" people not to give it away to everyone, really, they can't.

So what should they do? Just not make music for profit? Or, you accept that the artist "deserves" a cut proportional to listeners, but that the "record companies" take "too much". Do you know how difficult, and what a crapshoot it is, to promote an artist?

I'm not trying to troll. What should an artist and record company do?

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000051)

Value is created by demand and scarcity. The scarcity of digital music is artificial at this time, due to copyright law. If anyone could freely copy/use/alter digital music then much more value would be placed on *production* and *performance* of music than on *distribution* of music, which is as it should be. Artists would make money from concerts and sponsorships, as well as via commissions for new works. If Britney Spears promised to release a new album free to the world as soon as her fans had placed a minimum of $15 million into escrow, millions of teenage girls would put anywhere from $0.10 to $10 into the fund, the world would get more Spears (yeehaw...) and Spears would get $15 million. She'd have no distribution costs (sites would gladly trade bandwidth for eyeballs, not to mention the P2P channels), so the only thing she'd have to take out is production costs, which wouldn't be *nearly* as high as now. And she could proceed to trot around the nation doing concerts, just like she does now, and keep more of those profits too. Artists who are not Spears, or as popular as Spears, need to get popular by being good in concert and/or good in marketing, and/or willing to sign deals with the lesser devils that would replace the greater devils of today's industry. Variety would increase, live concerts would abound... what a wonderful world it would be.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000151)

Value is created by demand and scarcity. The scarcity of digital music is artificial at this time, due to copyright law. If anyone could freely copy/use/alter digital music then much more value would be placed on *production* and *performance* of music than on *distribution* of music, which is as it should be. Artists would make money from concerts and sponsorships, as well as via commissions for new works

The Dead did that for years; along with selling CDs/LPs/DVDs. Tape and trade concerts all you want, they even did sound checks for fans; but don't do that with the stuff they sell cause it's uncool, man.

Not a bad model - fans feel like they are part of the experience and connect with each other; the band gets a real loyal fanbase and gets paid as well.

If Britney Spears promised to release a new album free to the world as soon as her fans had placed a minimum of $15 million into escrow, millions of teenage girls would put anywhere from $0.10 to $10 into the fund, the world would get more Spears (yeehaw...) and Spears would get $15 million. She'd have no distribution costs (sites would gladly trade bandwidth for eyeballs, not to mention the P2P channels), so the only thing she'd have to take out is production costs, which wouldn't be *nearly* as high as now. And she could proceed to trot around the nation doing concerts, just like she does now, and keep more of those profits too. Artists who are not Spears, or as popular as Spears, need to get popular by being good in concert and/or good in marketing, and/or willing to sign deals with the lesser devils that would replace the greater devils of today's industry. Variety would increase, live concerts would abound... what a wonderful world it would be.

This is still a buy the stuff model - except now the artist gets the money upfront with no assurance a new album will be out or that it will be worth buying. In addition, why should I pay into the fund when the music will be free anyway? If the d/l sites want to trade eyeballs for bandwidth chances are they want to feed ads to those eyeballs as well.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000235)

I think you made a lot of points better than I did, but you made one I deliberately avoided:

In addition, why should I pay into the fund when the music will be free anyway?

While your other objections are true, the model the GP described actually partly circumvents the "free rider"/ no-marginal-benefit-to-marginal-contribution (that attaches to e.g. voting) in that every dollar you contribute slightly hastens the release date of the album, meaning your contribution does count.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000273)

This is still a buy the stuff model

Sure... but it doesn't rely on artificial scarcity. Original aristic work is naturally scarce. You are paying for something you don't have and can't get: access to new music. You *aren't* being forced to pay for 'legal' access to music you already have access to.

Except now the artist gets the money upfront with no assurance a new album will be out or that it will be worth buying.

That's why I said 'escrow'. If it album doesn't come out within a set time period, the money goes back to the fans. As for whether it's worth it...presumably the only fans that would pay into this would be 'true' fans that trust their artist a lot, and like just about everything they produce. I can name 20 artists that would fall into this category for me. I've bought everything they've ever produced, almost all of it sight unseen (sound unheard?) because I didn't want to wait until I heard it on the radio. As soon as it came out on CD I snapped it up. I'd venture that most music fans have several artists in the same category, and I think that is all it would take. Remember, you can pay $0.01 just as easily as $100 (well, once we get micro-payments worked out... or you could use a credit system where you buy $10 worth but spread 'credits' around many artists within the same escrow system)

In addition, why should I pay into the fund when the music will be free anyway?

Again, I think for many fans this just isn't a question they would ask. Music is always a discretionary expense, especially now that it's free for the taking (illegaly) and has been for years. But many, many fans believe the artists should be reimbursed, and don't mind being a part of that. Besides, you could place the donors on a list of people who commissioned the album and that would be plenty for most fans. They might even print all the names in the album art or something, distribute it with the album... it's all digital so again, no extra expense. My point is that it wouldn't take much marketing skill to offset this potential problem.

If the d/l sites want to trade eyeballs for bandwidth chances are they want to feed ads to those eyeballs as well.

Sure... what of it? So does Google and you still use them! The point is that you only have to go there ONCE and then you have the song forever. But it's mostly moot anyway... there would be tons of ad-free sites too I expect, run by fans or something. P2P solves the entire problem anyway. Getting things distributed has rarely been much of an issue on the web, if the content is desirable.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (3, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000186)

If anyone could freely copy/use/alter digital music then much more value would be placed on *production* and *performance* of music than on *distribution* of music, which is as it should be.

Well, that isn't quite as it should be. Distribution is much more important than you make it out to be. Your favorite artist -- how did you hear about him/her? There is TONS of crap out there. How do you find the diamonds? You do not have the time to sift through all the garbage. And I think you're wrong about production -- if you can't draw a return from copyright, you can't capture any value off the production, only the easily copiable performance.

Artists would make money from concerts and sponsorships, as well as via commissions for new works. If Britney Spears promised to release a new album free to the world as soon as her fans had placed a minimum of $15 million into escrow, millions of teenage girls would put anywhere from $0.10 to $10 into the fund, the world would get more Spears (yeehaw...) and Spears would get $15 million.

I'm familiar with that idea, but sorry, but that's extremely wishful thinking. Most of them don't have their own money. Mommy will buy them a CD, but she won't make a contribution for them to that fund. Plus, I can imagine the geek reaction: "artist extorts money to produce next CD". I would point out it only works for artists that have *already* separated themselves from the chaff, but you anticipated that:

She'd have no distribution costs (sites would gladly trade bandwidth for eyeballs, not to mention the P2P channels), so the only thing she'd have to take out is production costs, which wouldn't be *nearly* as high as now.

What? Why would this affect production costs?

And she could proceed to trot around the nation doing concerts, just like she does now, and keep more of those profits too. Artists who are not Spears, or as popular as Spears, need to get popular by being good in concert and/or good in marketing, and/or willing to sign deals with the lesser devils that would replace the greater devils of today's industry. Variety would increase, live concerts would abound... what a wonderful world it would be.

Er, no. Wishful thinking is not an argument.

Look, there's a lot of stuff about copyright I don't like either, and I'm not really as pro-IP as I might have come off. But the consequencees of removing these rights is not insigificant, and anyone wanting to remove them should be aware of the costs.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (1)

DerGeist (956018) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000166)

I was writing my comment as you were writing yours. Brilliantly put, yours blew mine out of the water. :-)

I'd like to propose that the issue is the people desire music as a public good, like a state park. It currently has the characteristics necessary: non-excludable, and non-rival (you can't exclude others from enjoying it by your consumption and your consumption does not decrease the overall amount available).

The problem is, labels and artists are accustomed to making absurd amounts of money since Americans generally value entertainment above all else (which is why they'll find anything, anything else on TV when the President is giving a speech).

The anonymous poster previous has outlined the ideal public good strategy: instead of paying the artists for their completed work, the public should hire the artist to create a work for them to enjoy. Then the work, being work-for-hire by the public, becomes a public good for all to enjoy. Money really wouldn't be much of an issue, there are 300 million people in the United States alone (suddenly giving a few bucks adds up).

Hence I say music should be like other work-for-hire art forms. That seems to be what the people want, at least. Obviously the issue here is only your fans will provide money, and the market strategy might be insufficient to support artists if they don't have a large enough fanbase (ie, smaller artists may die off).

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000218)

"So what should they do? Just not make music for profit? Or, you accept that the artist "deserves" a cut proportional to listeners, but that the "record companies" take "too much". Do you know how difficult, and what a crapshoot it is, to promote an artist?"

Honestly, I just don't give a damn about artists getting screwed over by the major labels. Those labels have one business model - try to sell as many copies of an album as possible, and their contracted "artists" are usually just hoping to hit the jackpot, get rich, and move to California to live out their dreams of an easy life. How many recording artists from the last few decades have kept working hard, year-round, after they got rich? Not many. If those mainstream "artists" get screwed and have to go back to being regular people and earning a living because they got greedy and signed a deal with the devil to handle the heavy lifting while they only work a couple months out of the year, why should I care? Rock and pop artists are rarely great figures producing transcendent works that enhance my life. If 99.9% of the artists on those labels all go bankrupt and have to live the life of a normal person, never getting a gold-plated jacuzzi in Beverly Hills, civilization is in no way harmed.

Record companies are only able to screw people because people let themselves get screwed. I rarely hear classical musicians, jazz musicians, or blues musicians complaining about getting screwed by the major labels - because they spend their lives working and living like normal people instead of just trying to get rich and famous. If more pop and rock "artists" stopped chasing fame and riches and actually spent their lives working they could do just fine without the major labels.

Agree, sorta (1)

Cybert4 (994278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999940)

I've used Yahoo music and now Urge subscription. It's quite annoying when your player barfs on you because you haven't tethered (the smaller devices can play on battery much longer than the cutoff point it seems). But still I use it--because I can get any song I want. I use it on my phone, which is always with me (8125).

I like freedom too, but this is the compromise I make. As I've said before, I don't want to support ad people.

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (2, Insightful)

DerGeist (956018) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000045)

Let me start by saying I have no issue with the preceding comment, however that same "demanding idealist" attitude is often echoed by those who are, quite simply, addicted to free content and use their perceived moralism as justification for continuing their actions.

Trust me when I say I am no fan of the RIAA's tactics regarding their customers, but at some point they need to make money. If you're willing to buy a DRM-free CD that is rippable, burnable and whatnot and don't mind paying $9.99(on sale)-$13.99+ for a CD, then by all means go ahead. (Unfortunately this means they will be able to again use their common sleazeball tactic of 11 filler songs + 1 decent piece). For those who complain about being "too poor" but still want to enjoy music, I think this is an excellent service idea, so long as it remains non-invasive (ie, no required spyware download).

At the very least they're trying to meet the consumer halfway, it's a lot more than previous offerings which have been akin to "sell us your children, listen to the music in a confined soundproof chamber for no more than 95 seconds and then commmit suicide." Again I remain cautiously optimistic about this latest offering but am acutely aware of the slime-baggery that sometimes sprouts from these services, like invasive spyware, unreasonable terms, or even charade services that are just completely unreasonable phony attempts that they know will fail, so that they can say "we tried, it didn't work!"

Re:For me, cost isn't the issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000207)

You're right, I want to play the music that I purchase on whatever device I choose too. And if this was music that we'd be purchasing, I'd be right there in the picket line with you. But this is free music, and if it's a choice between them just *giving* us this music in some form, or not at all, I choose the former.

Says Who? (1)

intrico (100334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999834)

Who says that users will not be able to put the music on their portable media players or burn the tracks to CD?

Re:Says Who? (2, Informative)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999856)

Who says that users will not be able to put the music on their portable media players or burn the tracks to CD?

The submitter, wild_berry, who, surprise surprise, is yet another Slashdot submitter who fails to understand the articles cited in his own submission. Neither of the articles cited contain any mention of such a restriction.

Re:Says Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000042)

I found this:

Songs and music videos will be available through downloading and theft protection is built into the content, New York-based SpiralFrog said today in a press release distributed by PR Newswire. Non-intrusive, targeted ads will pay for the service.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&si d=a.YLRkBqES74 [bloomberg.com]

Not Bad, but not a Music source (5, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999838)

What they are really saying is that they will let you try listening to their music without paying for it first. If you want to do anything with it, you have to pay.

Which isn't a bad idea, acutally...

Re:Not Bad, but not a Music source (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999908)

Which isn't a bad idea, acutally...

I agree, I'd definately look into using this to try out some new bands by listening to a few songs before I decide to buy their cds which I can do whatever I want with.

Now the question is, how much of my identity do I have to hand over to these people for their inevitable laptop theft so that they can target their ads, and are they going to let me listen to whole albums, or just the best songs that get heavy rotation on the radio anyway?

Ads (5, Insightful)

johnlittledotorg (858326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999839)

I wonder how long it will take them to work the ads into the audio files themselves. 3 minutes of music sandwiched between 2 30 second commercials is probably inevitable.

Re:Ads (3, Insightful)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999881)

Already exists. Flip the scaling of ads to music around, and you have what is commonly known as "FM Radio"

Re:Ads (1)

arrenlex (994824) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999904)

That would be a bad idea, because simple programs like Audacity can be used to strip things like that out in two seconds, and then the people who took out the music would explain to others how to do it. It would simply lead to the common man discovering music manipulation software out of need. Also, less tech savvy users would just seek to the start of the song.

Re:Ads (1)

theelectron (973857) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000003)

You've been watching videos on Yahoo!Launch haven't you?

DRM encumbered? (2, Interesting)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999844)

TFA doesn't say anything about whether or not the music in question is DRM-encumbered. I see no reason at all to believe that it won't be.

So while the music may be free as in beer, it'll likely only be free in the most limited sense of the word.

Thanks, but I'll pass.

Re:DRM encumbered? (4, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999941)

So while the music may be free as in beer, it'll likely only be free in the most limited sense of the word. Thanks, but I'll pass.

You don't watch TV or listen to the radio then? I do: they're free, and they're supported by adds. But it doesn't give me the option to view or listen to the program at any time I want. So sometimes I buy DVDs or CDs.

The proposed service has more freedom than radio, if we disregard DRM for the moment, so what's the big deal?

Plus, if you're one of UMG's artists, you can download your own song twice a day for a source of extra income!

Re:DRM encumbered? (1)

Kalinda (980204) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000290)

You don't watch TV or listen to the radio then? I do: they're free, and they're supported by adds.

Ahh... but you could easily Tivo or record things you see on TV or tape record things you hear on the radio; sure the quality won't be as good, but you could still do it. With TV it depends how good the reception is or if you have satelite and/or HDTV.

I suppose I can't blame them for putting DRM into it since it's free anyhow (and you really can't put advertising INTO a song), despite me being totally against DRM. Now, if I had to pay for it then that'd be different.... either way, I'll probably stay away because DRM doesn't work for Linux users, unless we circumvent it.

Re:DRM encumbered? (1)

hweimer (709734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999954)

TFA doesn't say anything about whether or not the music in question is DRM-encumbered. I see no reason at all to believe that it won't be.

You're absolutely right. From Yahoo News [yahoo.com] :
Digital rights management technology is built-in to all audio and video content

I don't want DRM even if it's free-as-in-beer, but I'd happily pay for non-DRM music even if it costs more than $0.99.

Excellent Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999877)

What an Excellent name, put the frogs in a lukewarm pot, and slowly increase the temperature. Pretty much, the sheeple will get used to getting things for "free", by accepting "targetted" ads.

All they have to do to get these "free" things, is release tons of personally identifiable information.

Just look at gmail/hotmail/etc.

Anyone can read/datamine your mail , etc.

Welcome to 1984, all hail big-brother.

What rock have you been under? (0, Offtopic)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000000)

You don't need to look online for the free-due-to-advertising model. There have been advertisers giving away free, unrelated product for decades, if not centuries in return for eyeballs. Ever listen to the radio, or watch TV? People are already used to this stuff...the water is already boiling.

Aside: Advertisers are the scourge of the earth, and they may actually rank _below_ lawyers, as at least some lawyers are honest. No, I haven't met one personally, but they supposedly exist whereas there are no honest advertisers almost by definition. Advertisers are at the root of most sports-related inflation. They get owners addicted to the cash like heroin, then claim they need to have more and more exposure to geep that cash coming. as the money filters down, everybody gets greedy, and you end up with $8 beers, $5 hot dogs, $300 bleacher seats, and some guy who can't even spell his name making $80M over 4 years right out of college because he can run a 4.2 40 and throw a pigskin 80 yards.

Congratulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000117)

You made the 1.6 millionth post.

finally. (4, Interesting)

jnf (846084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999894)

I've wondered how long it would be before a consultant somewhere said, 'you know, we should adapt or we risk dying', and this is what it is, finally a company with a financial interest in the matter is sitting down and trying to hash out an idea of how to make the new medium work for them.

I will probably go watch some ands and not hear the music (as it will probably require windows) just to show support for a company that is taking some initiative. I hope it makes them billions of dollars and all the other companies sit and wonder why they didn't think of it.

Re:finally. (1)

jnf (846084) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000019)

s/ands/ads/

Not a replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999898)

"Is the immunity from litigation enough to make up for having targeted advertising on each page and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"

I like to listen to my music in the car, while I'm going to sleep, as I'm reading a book, whatever. I want it indexed, in my format-du-jour (currently flac), and I want it on whatever device is handy. This does not provide that.

However, there are other times when I don't want to listen to my music. I might get a sudden urge to listen to some random song that I don't normally care about, want to check out a band, or want to simply show someone else a song I found but don't have handy. This is when I use things like Purevolume and (God forbid) Myspace. If this provides a similar service, then yes, I will gladly endure advertising to listen to the music. A service like this can only complement my music collection though, not replace it.

Linux Suppport? (1)

aweinert (969529) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999901)

Having switched over to Linux, my primary concenr with this site is will this service work on Linux? Given that the songs are bound to be DRM laddened, I find this unlikely. And even though its free as in beer, the song selection sounds like it will be very limited,at least for now. (I only saw a couple of bands I would possibly listen to in the list of Universal's Artists.)

http://music.edu.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999926)

Almost as stupid as http://music.edu.org/ [edu.org]

Trap? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999927)

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that this is the same doomed business model of the dot-com bubble?

Does Universal actually expect to make money off this, or is this a "straw man" venture designed to fail in order to show shareholders and politicians that strict DRM is necessary to guarantee profitability?

It's much older than that. (3, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000089)

This is an attempt to bring the old business model of terrestrial radio to the Internet. It's no different than listening to a commercial radio station's Internet stream, apart from the lack of cheesy locally-produced ads for Slappy's Bait Shop and Ice Cream Stand.

For those unfamiliar with Terrestrial Radio, it's that thing with all the monopolies that is being pummeled by the more interesting stuff on Internet Radio and Satellite Radio.

Oh damn you can bitch about anything can't you? (4, Insightful)

merlin_jim (302773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999934)

Is the immunity from litigation enough to make up for having targeted advertising on each page and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"

As if you even needed immunity from litigation, or you had some intrinsic right to this music. The only people that need immunity from litigation are those breaking the law

Here's a content producer. They want to GIVE you their content for free online, in a distribution model simliar to one that most of slashdot has been having wet dreams about since Napster 1.0 was released. Shit know when you got it good and stop your bitchin lol!

If someone wants to give me something for free I'm not going to whine just because they want me to do a certain thing with it - free restricted music is better than no music at all...

Re:Oh damn you can bitch about anything can't you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000184)

You haven't been watching the SCO v IBM/World litigation, have you?

There is no need to be guilty of breaking the law in the US to fall foul of it.

More details? (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999938)

Both articles are a little scarce with exactly what you can do with the music.

Is it like Yahoo's service, where you can "download" the song and play it whenever you like, but you can't burn it to a CD? And if you want to move it to an external drive, you have to pay extra?

Or will this be a complete file that can be downloaded to my PC and media-shifted? (preferrably CD-burnable, and I'm sure someone will figure out how to get around whatever DRM they put on it).

Re:More details? (1)

Alarash (746254) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000147)

Yeah, I'm wondering about that too. As I see it, we have these options:
  • Music is not downloadable, but streamed. You make your playlist online and listen to it from your browser (supposely with a crappy player IE-only compatible). Possible.
  • Music is downloadable, DRM'd, and you need to wait a while in front of ads in order to download. Hopefuly you can "pack" them in a RAR (or more likely ZIP..) file so you don't spend more time waiting than downloading. Unlikely
  • Music is downloadable in a proprietary format, and you can play them only in a proprietary player displaying ads. Will work only on Windows of course, and maybe on Mac OS. Likely
  • Music is downloadable, DRM'd in an open format, you can download a bunch at the same time after watching some ads, and you can play them on any platform because it's an open format. Unlikely.

Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15999965)

This is a pretty good idea. Seems like it is based on the Real Rhapsody model (which is worth the $9.99 / mo to listen to as much as you want) except that the streaming is free.
It will be like on demand radio, and if I like a tune, I'll buy it.

Good for Universal, they seem to 'get it'

Hmm (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999970)

My knee-jerk reaction was "Of course not", but this actually makes sense. At least now the "I only pirate to decide whether to buy it" crowd has no excuse any more.

Re:Hmm (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000232)

At least now the "I only pirate to decide whether to buy it" crowd has no excuse any more.
They'll just switch to "I have to hear it on my MP3 player to decide whether I like it enough to buy it." Or, how about, "They're giving the music away for free, so I should be able to download another copy and use it any way I want?" And, of course, don't forget "targetted advertising is violating my privacy rights, so I'm entitled to do whatever I want with their products."

What about... (1)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999977)

the analog loophole, eh?
With Audacity, one can record using the setting "What U Hear" which records not from the mic, but from the output of the soundcard. Encode to MP3, burn CD, sync to iPod, there ya go.

CD Burning (1)

pegr (46683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999986)

"...not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?"
 
Oh yeah? Watch me!

Lindsay Lohan (2, Funny)

spidereyes (599443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15999996)

I can finally download Lindsay Lohan's albums instead of being THAT guy who buys them at the store. Now, if we could only get Hanson to sign with Universal the circle would be complete.

I can't get into this (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000013)

I really don't get downloading music. Sure it's cheap, but it's not at the bitrate or in the codec I want.

What form will this free music be in, 128k WMA?

Survey says... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000016)

"...and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player"

I just took a look over @ VegasBigBoard, & the odds of that remaining a true statement for more than one month are level; less than one month is holding at 16:1; less than one week just moved up from 4:1 to 6 1/2.

I considered waiting and coming in when one week hit double-digits, but decided on a hedge and dropped some now, just to make it entertaining...

Does this mean...? (1)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000020)

That they have withdrawn there support of RIAA suing or is that just wishful thinking?

Woncer what DRM they will use... (1, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000048)

AAC is Apple-only. WMA has been cracked. What are they going to use for DRM? Sony ATRAC? (UGH!!!!)

No listening for you, sir. (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000062)

not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player
Oh, and it will not be playable through speakers or headphones. Sheesh, I mean, that way people could benefit from something without paying for it, and that surely cannot be a good thing!

Works for me (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000095)

Let me listen to the songs on my computer so I know if I like them enough to spend money, and when I do I'll buy the CD. Recently I went hunting for Power Metal bands (they're getting hard to find w/o mp3.com :( ) and couldn't find one band who didn't have either 30 second clips or edited their posted songs because, god forbid, I listen to an mp3 instead of buying their record. That might work for a truely excellant band like Freedom Call or Hammerfall, but for a middling band just hitting it's stride? It's just hard to get excited about a 30 second clip, and having the band yell at me "don't steal this mp3" half way through doesn't help either.

Congratulations Universal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16000104)

...you've invented radio!

Re:Congratulations Universal! (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000196)

hehe good one

but I really think we should all participate to show the RIAA that this works better than sueing their customers the pants off

Product placement (2)

sjonke (457707) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000111)

Why hasn't the product placement concept come to music yet? Since people are downloading music for free from all kinds of sources and there is no stop to it, why not put the advertising in the music? I can't imagine that Brittany Spears would complain about having to incorporate "Coke" or "Victoria's Secret" into a song. Here is an example product placement in a popular song:

I am going to the corner, gonna buy some iPod bling.
Would you pardon me if it's a black 60 gigabyte t'ing
Good golly, miss Molly, sure like to ball.
When you're rockin' and a rollin' can't hear your momma call.

Name change? (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000136)

Given the quality of music us Brits seem to enjoy they should change to

Crazy Frog

ding ding dididing....

"The internet is very much a viable media" (1)

impus (995219) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000153)

MediUM! "Music industry legal specialist" indeed...

Is it enough? (1)

localman (111171) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000239)

and not being able to write the music to CD or a portable player?

Not for me. I'd rather pay for the convenience of freely usable music than get usage-restricted tracks for free.

Cheers.

I wonder.. (0, Redundant)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000252)

..what format the ads will be in. Java? Flash?

We'll have to see if Mike's ad-blocking hosts file [everythingisnt.com] will strip them.

Here's [universalmusicgroup.com] a listing of Universal's lables and a partial list of their artists.

Too bad the jazz artists suck, with the exception of Herbie Hancock.

Both links pop in new browsers.

Won't work with iPod (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 8 years ago | (#16000275)

They have some DRM scheme, probably WMA, on these files - the article mentions that people will need to visit the site once a month to maintain access to their downloads. That means that this won't work on an iPod, which means that some 80% of the market is already excluded. At whom exactly is this targeted?
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