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Amazon Invests In Dynamic Pricing Model For MP3s

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the fun-models-to-play-with dept.

Music 280

NittanyTuring writes "Amazon recently closed a Series A financing deal with Amiestreet.com, a startup selling DRM-free MP3s with a demand-based pricing model. All music starts out free, and prices increase for popular tracks. Jeff Blackburn, Senior Vice President for Business Development, Amazon.com: 'The idea of having customers directly influence the price of songs is an interesting and novel approach to selling digital music.' What does this mean for Amazon's own intentions to sell music?"

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Novel idea (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161797)

A novel new business idea - the recording industry HATES that.

Re:Novel idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20162019)

Hey slashdot.....why don't you go SUCK MY DICK or COCK!

8==============D~~~~~

RICHARD STALLMAN takes cum shots in the ass!!!

Re:Novel idea (3, Funny)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162237)

Just thought I'd take a moment to supply this poor lonely soul with a brief, though apparently much needed, pre-school level human anatomy lesson, with a bit of English language thrown in for kicks.

The words 'dick' and 'cock' in English are slang terms for the human 'penis', of which only males of our species have one. Further, except in the case of extreme and rare genetic defects, male humans have exactly one penis. Thus using the term 'suck my dick orcock' is illogical as both terms refer to the same male appendage.

Unless of course you have your dick in one hand, and a cock of the avian persuasion in the other...which considering your post may be the smart money ;)

Re:Novel idea (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162033)

yes, but much as they may whine and bitch, this new business model does seem to be grounded in reality. Distributing music for free will now cause your music collection to have less "resale value".

Re:Novel idea (2, Insightful)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162429)

This seems like an incredibly bad idea to me, at least if it were to become the dominant pricing model - but I highly doubt it will.

I mostly listen to artists that don't sell a ton of records, where a big success could be shipping 20,000 or 50,000 units compared to radio acts that can ship millions. I don't know how their model would work in reality, but let's assume these tracks might be 25% the cost of a big radio single. The process values popularity over all other factors, doubly reinforcing it. Not only would the popular act earn more money because they were shipping more units, but also they would earn more per unit. Assuming there are fixed production costs that get paid down (lower % per unit for more popular sales) why should a less popular artist be penalized in so many ways?

A record that only sells 10,000 copies to devoted fans shouldn't translate into less income for the artist than 10,000 shipped units of a pop act. The small time artist most likely needs to money much more than the one shipping a ton of units anyway.

Re:Novel idea (1)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162265)

As opposed to a novel old idea?

Finally (1, Funny)

Duffy13 (1135411) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161799)

I for one welcome our DRM free overlords.

pissed off customers, thats what it means (4, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161803)

You know there will be much whining about people that bought $Song for $PriceA only to find that it fell to $PriceB.

And those that complain that $Friend bought $Song for $PriceA but now its up to $PriceC and its not fair that they have to pay more than $Friend for the exact same item

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (3, Interesting)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161837)

more to the point, what is to stop me from "selling" my free versions when the band gets popular? What if I give them away?

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (3, Insightful)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161933)

more to the point, what is to stop me from "selling" my free versions when the band gets popular? What if I give them away?
Er, maybe a sense of morals or ethics?

Besides, instead of saying, "Yeah, I was into that band before the got uncool," you will be able to say, "Yeah, I was into that band before they got expensive." This is going to be a boon for frugal hipsters and poseurs.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161993)

Er, maybe a sense of morals or ethics?

Not sure where morals or ethics are involved. If I buy something for one price (even if that price is $0), and the price rises, I don't see why I should be prevented from selling it at the higher price. Obviously, to be legal, I would have to delete any copies that I may have of the mp3 after I sell it.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162469)

Obviously, to be legal, I would have to delete any copies that I may have of the mp3 after I sell it.
To be legal? Which legal system is this? Intellectual Property is governed by different laws than physical property.

Personally, I would prefer the creation of some sort of "mass media" license which allows resale, and anything not under the mass media license would have to be negotiated face-to-face between the IP rights holder and the licensee. But no such law exists TODAY, so "to be legal," as you put it, one would have to follow existing IP law.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

alteran (70039) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162031)

>> more to the point, what is to stop me from "selling" my free
>> versions when the band gets popular? What if I give them away?

> Er, maybe a sense of morals or ethics?

Well, as long as he wasn't selling COPIES, it'd be perfectly legal, not to mention moral and ethical.

Just like anything else you buy that goes up in resell value.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162215)

Well, as long as he wasn't selling COPIES, it'd be perfectly legal, not to mention moral and ethical.
Can someone explain why it isn't "ethical or moral" for me to give copies away for free?

I'm not saying it is "moral and ethical", I just want someone to explain why they think it's not.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20162285)

Can someone explain why it isn't "ethical or moral" for me to give copies away for free?
The simple answer is that I'm sure Amazon will require accepting terms and conditions that prohibit giving away copies before downloading the music. So you would be breaking your word if you gave copies away for free. Breaking your word is immoral and unethical.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (5, Funny)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161963)

more to the point, what is to stop me from "selling" my free versions when the band gets popular?

One could set up an entire MP3 futures trading market! You could invest in MP3's, hoping that their popularity will grow...

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162267)

You could invest in MP3's, hoping that their popularity will grow...
It worked for CDs.


Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (4, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162541)

Wow. So you are telling me I could short Fergie? Quick! Buy 100 PUTs on "Big Girls Don't Cry!"

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (5, Interesting)

yali (209015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161983)

As demand drives prices up, the incentive to illegally copy MP3s will increase; but large-scale infringement would lower demand. So eventually (at least in theory) the prices will hit some sort of equilibrium point. This could be a pretty interesting natural experiment.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162257)

So eventually (at least in theory) the prices will hit some sort of equilibrium point. This could be a pretty interesting natural experiment.
If not for the monopoly provided by copyright law, that equilibrium point would be independent of the music, it would equate to the value of the service providing the music, essentially how easy is it to use the service to get the music versus using the p2p flavor of the month to get the same music.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

Catil (1063380) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162293)

Once the site gets a certain amount of attention and offers mainstream music, the pirates will probably write a script that downloads all the new stuff while still being free anyway.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162077)

I say let you sell your music, that would discourage you from devaluing your music collection by giving it away.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162347)

more to the point, what is to stop me from "selling" my free versions when the band gets popular? What if I give them away?
Whatever is stopping you now, I suppose.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161849)

Wow,

Sounds a lot like Amazon's earlier experiment in dynamic pricing. The backlash against that is why you are always offered 2 book packs at a discount now. It lets you buy a book you would of never heard of for cheaper, without it being a cheaper line item than someone else's.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161873)

Customers should know how the system works before they buy. And if they didn't bother to find out, and they waited too long to get it at the same price, then it's their own tough luck.

I think this is a novel idea, and hopefully it will work well.

My only question is, will they go strictly by number of sales for a song overall, or will they continuously monitor popularity of each MP3 and then reduce the price again once the popularity drops?

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161887)

Yeah I wonder about that from a customer service perspective. However, I think people could get around to liking it.

Initially, I know a lot of people who were very put off by eBay's business model. They were bitter about being outbid at the last minute, or seeing something that sold for $X last week, but now only finding similar items for $Y (where Y is greater than X). However, they don't seem to be going out of business. (Although admittedly they have done more flat-price 'auctions.')

There might be a lot of whining about people who missed prices, but as long as you make it clear to everyone how the pricing works, and initially position it towards 'bargain hunters' (e.g., emphasize the deals to be had on less-popular songs), I think they can still survive, and just tell the whiners to stuff it.

Anyway, it'll be very interesting. I look forward to downloading lots of obscure music at very low prices.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

alteran (70039) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162117)

I agree, this could really work in surprising ways. It would obviously encourage people to browse. Currently, I go to iTunes looking for something specific, and immediately get back off. And DRM means I limit what I do get.

It could get also get people like me who want to rebuy old, not-so-popular stuff to find a price they're comfortable with. It could reinvigorate stale music catalogs.

An intriguing idea.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

radarjd (931774) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161897)

You know there will be much whining about people that bought $Song for $PriceA only to find that it fell to $PriceB.

You mean like people who complain when there's a sale at $Store, and people riot outside because they purchased before the sale? There are demonstrations against Fry's every weekend, after all...

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

dannannan (470647) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162169)

The only ones whining will be the MP3 futures traders [slashdot.org] who are buying in bulk. When you're buying them one at a time the $0.98 price cap means you're whining about pennies.

Re:pissed off customers, thats what it means (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162275)

Yes, just like everyone always complains when they buy something then find out that their friend bought it a week earlier and got it on sale. Or just like how stock market investors whine about having to buy shares of Google for more than their stock market investor friends did yesterday. (Second example is assuming that Google's shares are rising in price. If they aren't, feel free to substitute a stock symbol that is rising in price.)

Won't higher prices = more piracy? (3, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161815)

Won't higher prices mean more piracy? Or is that exactly what this system is avoiding?

By nobody buying a track (which *could* mean piracy) the track's price would come down and then people would buy it?

Wow, I think I answered my own question! This sounds pretty cool - less known music gets more exposure and more popular music gets set at a price people are willing to pay. Now, will they actually have a supply of music?

Re:Won't higher prices = more piracy? (1)

rbf2000 (862211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161921)

According to TFA, prices cap at $.98. I hardly think that's in the "causes piracy" level of pricing.

Re:Won't higher prices = more piracy? (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161953)

I think "harder access to music = more piracy."

Re:Won't higher prices = more piracy? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162029)

You don't think higher price = harder access? :P

Re:Won't higher prices = more piracy? (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162189)

You don't think higher price = harder access? :P

I think, to the potential copyright infringer, that the difference between $0.68 and $0.98 for an MP3 file is not enough to sway their choice. At either of those prices, the convenience of buying and being done with it measures the same against searching for black-market music repositories, filtering out invalid/mislabeled content, etc.

Re:Won't higher prices = more piracy? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162263)

Even when it comes to downloading the whole album vs buying the whole album?
10 songs per album @ $0.98 = $9.80
10 songs per album @ $0.20 = $2.00

It really adds up if you're on a budget and want some new albums. Especially if this ranges from free to $0.98 per song. Perhaps it's not that great of a price barrier for white collar professionals such as ourselves, but the forces of the market cannot be completely thrown out.

All this is moot, though, since I'd still rather own the CD or not listen to anything. Such is life for my picky ears.

Re:Won't higher prices = more piracy? (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162251)

Not really, no.

Free-market piracy inflection point (3, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162017)

If the volumes stay low then the price stays low and the motivation for piracy should also stay low.

As the volumes increase, the price increases and the piracy might increase.

What is interesting is that this model possibly finds the "perfect price". So much for economic theory.

In reality, a pirate will not buy some low-cost stuff and pirate high-cost stuff according to some built-in threshold. Once they have free piracy access to music they will use that for everything they can.

Re:Free-market piracy inflection point (2, Insightful)

nbert (785663) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162457)

I was just about to write something similar before I read your comment and though I had basically the same idea I started to wonder: Can a perfect price be determined if the product is available for free? Right now it works the other way around than how you described it: People buy music if they are not able to download it for free (because it's too rare to be on a torrent site for example). Since there's a price cap in this case it gets even more complicated.

On the other hand I quite like a pricing model in which people pay more for really popular songs. This would be an opportunity especially for open minded people interested in music. For example I often buy CD's and box sets from artists which where cool when my parents where young and it annoys me that they usually are in the higher price range just because the normal fan is older and has more money than the average student.

Yes, but it doesn't matter (1)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162073)

Won't higher prices mean more piracy?

Yes, but it doesn't matter, because *fans* always buy the CDs, go to concerts, get the merchandise, or pass the buzz around to their friends. That's what makes them fans.

The non-fans are irrelevant to the sales ledger, since they would never have bought anything anyway.

The RIAA wants to everyone to pay of course, even if they've downloaded the music but hate it.

But that just shows that the RIAA are fucking morons. They can't distinguish between the economics of virtual and physical goods. Alleged losses to non-fans equate to zero.

Fast Refresh (2, Interesting)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161821)

I for one plan on using my first post skill by downloading as many songs for free legaly as possible. But seriously after they reach over 0.99$ who is going to ever buy that song from them again?

Re:Fast Refresh (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161901)

You bring up a valid point. This could be an interesting market experiment. How much are people really willing to pay? Unfortunately, due to the MAFIAA's history of price-fixing, we couldn't truly know before. But now we can.

Re:Fast Refresh (1)

4solarisinfo (941037) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161907)

after they reach over 0.99$ who is going to ever buy that song from them again
I guess people willing to pay for the DRM free part... Or people who just hate Apple...

Re:Fast Refresh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20161955)

If a DRM-free version of the same song is available elsewhere for $0.99, no one. And that would make the price fall to around $0.99. My question: will this service offer music that people are interested in? Or are these are these labels too obscure to garnish a wide audience? Imagine how awesome this would be if Sony, EMI, etc. had their stuff on there. Although I do like the idea of consumers driving the discovery and promotion of music instead of the record labels.

RTFM (2, Informative)

brian1078 (230523) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161959)

From the article:

As more people download a song the price rises, capping at $0.98

Re:RTFM (1)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162137)

Yeah sorry, I didn't bother to RTFA until after i posted because I thought the idea of someone constantly refreshing the page to obtain free songs. As for the cap I think it would be a neat experiment if they didn't cap it for how much people are willing to pay for DRM free content. Also it would work without capping if the song dropped a bit of value over time as well.

This could work really well (4, Interesting)

uncreativeslashnick (1130315) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161835)

Have you ever found yourself telling someone, "yeah, I liked that song before everyone else thought it was cool." I can see this model encouraging people to explore and download and try new stuff so that later on, when the price goes up, they can brag about how they downloaded it first, for free, before it was selling for $5 a pop.

It also might open the door for more quality indies to actually make money. People might be turned off by high prices of what the RIAA cartel marketing is pushing, and go for the cheaper indie stuff. Then again, I am probably being too optimistic, as most teenagers will pay any price for "cool"

Re:This could work really well (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161913)

The only problem with it is: will the Music industry buy into it? I mean iTunes has a decent selection, but it's far from complete. How many major record labels are going to be investing in a market where they'll be giving stuff away?

Re:This could work really well (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162401)

I don't know how much they'll go along with the DRM-less part, but the music industry has been asking Steve Jobs for tiered pricing for a long time now.

SWEET! (2, Interesting)

vigmeister (1112659) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161839)

T-Pain will sell for tens of dollars while I can get Manu Katche for cheap!

Finally! All that non-conformance pays off!!

Cheers!

Wait, where am I? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20161843)

I thought all music was free by use of convoluted logic to justify such a thing.

"Logic" is too generous... (2, Informative)

mattgreen (701203) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162185)

Fallacy-ridden arguments and ridiculous drawn out appeals to emotion is a more accurate representation. Remember: you should be able to do whatever you want with information, except if its the GPL! Then you have to follow the GPL!

Umm read the article.... (5, Informative)

Duffy13 (1135411) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161847)

For those who didn't, prices start a $0.00 and cap out at $0.98.

I'm not willing to support copyright.... (1, Troll)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161879)

...but I'm willing to support the creation of music. Therefor in my opinion the model should work the opposite way. Popular songs should be cheaper to download.

Re:I'm not willing to support copyright.... (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161991)

People bitch and moan about the DRM, then a company removes it but sells for $.30 more... people bitch and moan. Then someone comes along and sells DRM-free music for no more than $.98 (and possibly free), but the price will fluctuate... people bitch and moan.

Why do we expect anyone to give us what we want?

* All prices USD.

Re:I'm not willing to support copyright.... (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162197)

Why do you expect me to change my beliefs or move the goalpost?

I never supported DRM and I don't consider it acceptable. Media without DRM is better, but not automatically good. I'm okay with a higher price, given that it goes towards the creation of music, not to some publisher that doesn't do anything useful. Fluctuating price is okay, actually I like that...

I might even download the free songs and just donate to the bands I like for their efforts. In my opinion the more popular a song, the less it should cost simply because then the creator has had the chance to recoup his costs. It doesn't mean that popular songs wouldn't bring in extra or more apart from money to cover the expenses, but it wouldn't bring in many many orders of magnitude more - undeservedly - in my opinion.

Also, please let me not argue about the fallacy of attributing many different viewpoints to me. Different people moan about different things.

I don't expect people to give me what I want. But I don't expect to give my money to them if they don't give me what I want. I'm especially careful of supporting companies and I try to make an informed decision in most cases, that not only is about the product, but also about the behaviour of the company I'm giving my money to.

Re:I'm not willing to support copyright.... (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162341)

But there's an inherit flaw in your logic of popular songs being cheapest... if the least-popular cost the most, they're never going to come down and that is because.... nobody is buying it! So the artist still isn't making money!

I'm not singling you out either, I just find it amusing that everytime a new step is taken, another set of people (who may not have had complains about DRM, or the non-DRm being more costly, etc) come out and voice a complaint. Even if they are different groups of people, they are all the same to people following the situations.

Re:I'm not willing to support copyright.... (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162201)

For the most part all of this bitching and moaning has nothing to do about a fair price. Lets face it, people want music, they want it for free and they want to do it legally. But like the old axiom of "fast, good, cheap. Choose 2", these three elements can never come together in a situation where it is win-win for both the listener and the musician.

Most of the time when I see people on Slashdot talk about how things are "working out" with new music distribution models they normally forget to include the musician in the equation.

I don't care what anyone thinks about this. An artist shouldn't be forced to tour to pay the rent. Is it hard to accept making a lifetime's wage for a few years of work? Sure. But on the other hand it shouldn't be asking too much for the artist to cover the cost of overhead for putting out music, keep food on his plate and make a bit extra without having to live in the back of an Econoline van.

So most of the DRM/Copyright arguments has nothing to do with creativity or a society bolstered by its art. It mostly has to deal with people being greedy and not wanting to shell out for what they've taken.

Blame the RIAA all you want, but people deserve to make a buck when they've produced something that you're willing to listen to more then once or twice.

/rant

Backwards economics... (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161883)

Early adopters are usually the ones who subsidize the latecomers. This is entirely backwards, as the latecomers are subsidizing the early adopters.

Will all the cool kids be saying, "I listened to , back when they were only 5cents a track"? It would be worse than people obsessed with their low Slashdot UID!

Re:Backwards economics... (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162023)

It would be worse than people obsessed with their low Slashdot UID!
Yeah, those people suck...

The way I see it, this is less "latecomers subsidizing the early adopters" and more a matter of blurring the line between promotional distribution and retail distribution. Pairing it up with an effective rating and recommendations system would make it particularly powerful--get something unknown for dirt cheap, or pay a little more for something that has some chance of matching your tastes. They should pair up with MovieLens.

I think (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161885)

I think they named this: "Operation Screw The Little Guy".

Love it (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161891)

The stuff I like will cost 0.01 while the popular spooge hits the cap. I love you, free market. :)

Re:Love it (5, Funny)

kpainter (901021) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161937)

I wonder if they will pay me to download Yoko Ono tracks?

Re:Love it (1)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162027)

Just because a song is popular doesn't mean it's "spooge".

When your songs get to a certain price, will you delete them because they're too cool?

Awesome (1)

eboluuuh (1139173) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161905)

Much better than iTunes' $0.99 per song, $9.99 per album approach. Now, if only I had money.

This could actually be nice for some people (4, Funny)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161925)

Those who prefer to listen to non-mainstream artists would get cheaper music, while those who prefer to listen to mainstream artists would pay more for it. It almost sounds like a tax on lack of musical taste to subsidize music geeks!

Re:This could actually be nice for some people (1)

Duffy13 (1135411) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161967)

Well it would only effect those who actually use these types of services, and it's still technically cheaper then itunes. So either way it beats the competition. (Barely for popular music.)

Re:This could actually be nice for some people (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162139)

Now indie snobs will have a genuine reason to gripe when their favorite dreary crap picks up a larger audience! It'll actually cost them money instead of just snobbery rights about how they were fans before whatever single got radio play...

Re:This could actually be nice for some people (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162221)

Now indie snobs will have a genuine reason to gripe when their favorite dreary crap picks up a larger audience! It'll actually cost them money instead of just snobbery rights about how they were fans before whatever single got radio play...

Funny, for those of use who like to see bands play live, this is exactly what we have to deal with as a band gets bigger. There are more than a few bands that I've seen for free in small clubs or coffeeshops in their early days, only to see their popularity take off to the point where I'd have to pay 25-30 bucks or more to see them in some sports arena.

Re:This could actually be nice for some people (1)

Chido-Wan Kenobi (628511) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162329)

I think we need to take a collective deep breath and think about this some more.

Having market demand set the selling price of tracks is, I believe, a great idea. Let's see:

1. Commercial/mainstream records will be sold at about the same price they are sold right now. Hence, big recording companies would make the same amount of money, and they won't care about the change.

2. Indie bands will have their tracks sold a lot cheaper. This is not bad, I think. If your band was going to sell - say - 1,000 tracks at $0.99, that means your sold $990. However, if your selling price is $0.50, you JUST MIGHT attract more than 1,000 buyers; young people are usually on a fixed budget. If they sell 3,000 tracks at that price, they'll get $1,500! And if this larger number moves their price up towards the $0.98 ceiling - well, I guess that means they are on their way to success.

In conclusion, I think this is a great idea. Which is precisely why someone will find a way to object to it.

Might this help the long tail? (5, Interesting)

Otis2222222 (581406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20161977)

I'd like to see a model like this. Ever since I installed a satellite radio receiver in my car, my musical horizons have broadened significantly. A lot of the artists I hear on some of the more obscure channels aren't indexed on iTunes or even available on illegal services like Limewire. This mostly applies to older music that is out of print, or never made it to CD.

It would be nice if there was a service like this that had just about anything ever recorded digitized and made available for download. Let the market sort out what's popular and what isn't, but give us access to EVERYTHING.

In this day and age, there is no reason why virtually every album ever recorded isn't available to buy a digital copy of.

obligitory Blues Bros. paraphrase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20162061)

I'd like to see a model like this. Ever since I installed a satellite radio receiver in my car, my musical horizons have broadened significantly.

No he listens to both kinds, country and western.

Re:Might this help the long tail? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162141)

Ever since I installed a satellite radio receiver in my car, my musical horizons have broadened significantly. A lot of the artists I hear on some of the more obscure channels aren't indexed on iTunes or even available on illegal services like Limewire. This mostly applies to older music that is out of print, or never made it to CD.


Huh? Some guy is spinning vinyl into a ADC for (digital) satellite uplink? That doesn't sound plausible.

I happen to know that Echostar's "CD channels" are actually fed by CD changing robots. I suspect this is the norm.

-Peter

Brilliant (4, Funny)

harvey_peterson (658039) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162001)

The screw-you pricing of the airline industry and the crappy product of the corporate music industry.

Can't fail.

And you wonder why? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162007)

Now, for everyone who wonders why cookie cutter pop songs sell....

While it's somewhat neat this is only going to make the unimaginative pop artist richer and the indie artist poorer. When this model goes live and pop goes for $$$$ don't sit there and ask why big labels only seem to produce pop. At least with the old static model the indie artist could still make a buck off a few sales instead of having to have half the iPod owning population buy their song to finally make the rent.

Or in a much shorter form: If you're a small artist with a small fanbase you're best off to avoid Amazon. Regardless of talent.

Re:And you wonder why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20162103)

Please explain your reasoning to all of us. By the price being lower for independent artists, more people will be willing to give the music a try. If they do, they may become fans, which will result in growing popularity for the artist and more prospective concert attenders and music purchasers (whether a disc or a download). If I were a "small indie artist", then I'm pretty sure I would want to be a part of this, to help improve my popularity. After all, isn't the goal to become famous and sell LOTS of music?

Re:And you wonder why? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162269)

But in the mean time you have a ton of debt you're trying to keep in control hoping for your big day to happen.

Music production costs and if they never get a big enough fan base to make these songs pay out more then a couple of cents per download these guys are going to give it up.

So what will we have? We'll have the same old pop names riding high, getting more of the publicity while smaller indy artists will struggle. And even if they get a bit of recognition? Great, they're going to make as much over 200 downloads as some other artists (as in pop) are going to make in a half a dozen. This is the same record company scam done in a new guise. It has nothing to do with paying an artist, it has to do with making the unpopular artist suffer until they're dead broke and have to give up the business. The best part of it? Amazon doesn't have to pay out! At least with the record companies they put some money and services up front.

Re:And you wonder why? (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162229)

At least with the old static model the indie artist could still make a buck off a few sales instead of having to have half the iPod owning population buy their song to finally make the rent.


No, there are two reasons why it won't work like this.

First, if 'half the iPod owning population' buys an indie band's song, the price would go up dramatically... I'm sure at this point this popular song would indeed be $0.98.

Secondly, indie artists are going to make a much better percentage of profits than pop-culture icons. We've all heard about artists getting screwed and record companies getting the VAST majority of profits for CD sales... I don't know what profits yielded from digital sales are like, but something tells me it isn't much different. The label's 95% cut is something your local rock band doesn't really have to worry about.

I personally believe this is a great idea. I'm interested to see how it pans out.

Amazon music stock market (4, Insightful)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162009)

Who wants to start this? I'm selling options for indie band A at 35 cents a song.

Re:Amazon music stock market (1)

jmanforever (603829) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162489)

"I'm selling options for indie band A at 35 cents a song."

GREAT! I love A. I have a CD of their album "Hi-Fi Serious" - it's great! Definitely worth .35 a track.

Interesting and novel? (1)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162051)

The idea of having customers directly influence the price of songs is an interesting and novel approach to selling digital music.
Yeah, having supply and demand affect the price of your wares must be really frickin' strange.

brilliant (1)

Srsen (413456) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162099)

So your whole business model is really based on the concept that your product has no intrinsic value. The act of selling music is the only thing that carries value, not the talent and effort that went into producing it?

Bible and/or Scientology (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162101)

Dang it...I need to record some audio books of the bible or the dead sea scrolls...heck even Scientology....

I'll make a ton as the same 'customers' buy it again and again...

I better include a sony rootkit just to make sure....

No way the Big Four go for this (3, Interesting)

Arathon (1002016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162127)

There just isn't. Because this can't possibly mean more money for them, if prices cap at 0.98. And if they didn't cap there, no one would buy the more expensive tracks from them anyway. But unless these "trail-blazing" people either forfeit all profit for themselves in order to transfer it to the recording companies, or come up with some other, novel way of incentivizing this process (theoretically, at least using a simple model, averaging 50 cents a download) which will halve their profits compared to what they get from iTunes, there is NO WAY the Big Four will go for this.

On the other hand, maybe the simple model isn't true, and maybe popular = most everything that the average buyer buys, in which case it won't look any different to the average buyer, so except for the DRM-free part (another deal-breaker for the Big Four), why should the average buyer care?

Re:No way the Big Four go for this (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162299)

there is NO WAY the Big Four will go for this.

So? Fuck em, we don't need them.

Lots of good music on Amie Street (2, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162159)

This is really good news. There are some good songs to be had on Amie Street for not much money. So far, I've bought 91 songs and have only spent $6.29. That's about 7 cents per song. With no DRM at all. Beat that, iTunes! ;-)

Oh, and if you happen to be interested in what I'm listening to, here's my playlist: http://www.jasons-toolbox.com/what-im-listening-to .php [jasons-toolbox.com]

The other way around? (1)

Seiruu (808321) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162167)

Wouldn't it make more sense to actually start at the highest threshold, and then move down the price based on how popular it is? Essentially creating a chain reaction of making songs that seem not so popular very popular to try?

And as incentive for those who bought the first ones, since they were the guys that discovered and pushed the price down in the first place (and made it more popular), give them credits for their next purchases?

Wouldn't that be a natural filter for crappy music and boost good music?

Re:The other way around? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162233)

Who's going to pay 0.98 for an unpopular song when they can get a popular one more cheaply?

Re:The other way around? (1)

Seiruu (808321) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162411)

Ah there's that. Good point. Ugh, ad hoc thinking isn't really good :p

Re:The other way around? (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162387)

That's what occurred to me at first too. You'd think they'd be taking the opposite approach for several reasons:

1. Music is a volume-based profit model. If fewer people buy it, you don't recoup the cost of development and distribution unless you charge higher prices. So the more popular music is, the less it should be priced because you're going to make up for that price difference in volume.

2. Piracy is mainly a "problem" with popular music. If you're into some obscure Indie rock band, you're probably one out of 10 people who will download it illegally. That's not a big deal. On the other hand, Sir Justin's latest album (he's still making music right?) will be downloaded by every teenage girl out there and many of them are going to download it from the "bad" sources. So it stands to reason that it's with the more popular stuff that you want to give consumers incentives to use your service vs, say, bit-torrent. A lower price is a primary incentive. Perhaps not free, but if you get 10 million downloads a day when Avril releases a new album and each was priced at $0.05, that's still $500k a day of income. Compare this to pricing it at $2 (I'm assuming this is the top cap), at which point, according to the music industry, the big bad pirates will come along and let those 10 million downloads be free (because we all know that everyone will choose to download for free vs buy and every who downloaded for free would've bought). That's $0 earned vs $500k/day earned.

3. Marketing costs less for bands that are already popular. If you were pushing some new-comer rock band that nobody knows, you'd have to spend a boatload of money to advertise. Compare this to the latest P'Ditty album, which will practically advertise itself. It only makes sense that less popular music will cost more to promote/create and therefore, should be charged more.

All of this is under the assumption that the music industry is trying to fairly price its products based on cost and market value. Of course, if they were unrealistic about how the world works, overly greedy, and thought that they could arbitrarily charge whatever they want and have government legislation grant them a legal monopoly, then they may not care about fair pricing and simply think:

profit = number of downloads * price-per-download

OMG, if I make price-per-download grow as number of downloads my profits will be exponential!!!!!!

In Other News (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162205)

In other news, the store announced that they would introduce music in order of popularity.

I was into them before it was cool (1)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162209)

This is great for people who like to brag that they were listening to a band before they were popular. Now you can say, "Oh yeah, I was listening to them when their tracks were free. The fact that you paid $0.98 for them shows how much of a poser you are."

Popularity Tax (1)

marms (134726) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162273)

Cool, a Popularity Tax! So the masses would pay more for those craptastic pop songs and American Idol drek. Whereas, us Metalheads, Punks, and fans of other less popular genres will be getting sweet low prices. Sounds like a most excellent idea, Ted! [guitar-riff]

[Note: I was tempted to call this a "Stupidity Tax", but that just seemed overly cruel to the followers of Pop - they have their own problems.]

My $0.98 with of MP3.. .err.. comment (2, Interesting)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162321)

I think this is a great idea in the fact that it's a new idea. But, I'd prefer the business model be reversed.

If "Mr. Super-Cool" sells 1000 tracks a day at 0.98 then the artist makes some good money, but what about "Mr. Not-So-Cool"? His track sells for free, or very little, and the artist gets nothing, mostly because he's not popular. What if it was revered, AND you provided a library that was practically every song known to man? I'd gladly pay 98 cents for a song that I just can't find anywhere, legally or illegally. With a reversed model, maybe that poor Not-So-Cool guy could make a living even though he's not on one of the 'big' recording labels.

Or as an alternative, have it set up so the more tracks you buy, the cheaper they get? Buy x tracks a month and get y% off. Why not let the customers "buy in bulk" and save? Isn't that what our economy is all about? Buy a gallon of Mayo and save some $$$ instead of buying 10 smaller bottles?

Re:My $0.98 with of MP3.. .err.. comment (1)

shvytejimas (1083291) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162533)

I think the idea is good as it is. It is logical for a starter artist to earn less and get more exposure because of the low price. Later on, if the music is well received, popularity would rise along with his income.

No more supply/demand? (2, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162377)

This has interesting economics, clearly designed to help Amazon, but might also help smaller artists. I think I like it, but not sure.

There's no such thing as supply and demand in this model. There's only demand, and the supply is endless. So why does an infinite supply with a finite demand not equate to free? Bandwidth? They certainly can get some advertisement into the pages of popular sound downloads.

This seems almost backwards ... you'd think it'd be cheaper to d/l a popular song and make up pagehits with ads, but perhaps this makes smaller artists get more exposure.

The critical question. (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162399)

TFA doesn't say whether these are in fact MP3 files, and the critical question is: will these songs play on an iPod? If not, this business is doomed before it starts.

-jcr

Re:The critical question. (1)

Arathon (1002016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162477)

Yes, they will play on an iPod, and though I can't find the actual confirmation on their site that says they're .mp3s, it's pretty much a given that they are, because DRM-free files are nearly always .mp3 (because, as you point out, that's what drives sales).

This wont work! (2, Insightful)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162487)

Okay, first, the old artists taht sell few songs at any given time, but still do constantly sell, no longer get any money. Plus, the industry doesn't make any more money than they do now, cos its capped.

Song costs $0.00 - I buy it
Song costs $0.20 - I buy it
Song costs $0.40 - I buy it
Song costs $0.60 - I buy it
Song costs $0.80 - I buy it
Song costs $1.00 - I bugger off to the itunes store

Well, I wouldn't, but many people would and you get my point. And this effectively means, this service could never reach the same average sales cost.

BRILLIANT! (3, Insightful)

scribblej (195445) | more than 7 years ago | (#20162499)

I'm already working on my script to download all new music the minute it hits the service -- before it becomes popular.

I can't wait for the madness that will hit once my script becomes popular in usage.

(Note, I'm not actually writing such a script, but someone will.)

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