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Why AnywhereCD Failed

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the unblinking-look-at-the-business dept.

Businesses 184

An anonymous reader writes "In an obituary for AnywhereCD, which closes in one week, founder (and MP3.com founder) Michael Robertson chronicles how at least one record label wanted him to embed credit card numbers of buyers into songs. A fascinating story about how at least some of the labels still don't get it and why AnywhereCD is about to be buried."

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184 comments

FTA (2, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745651)

Here is the real reason the business model failed:

"I believe that if you give people real value (music or anything else) they are happy to pay."

Re:FTA (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745809)

"I believe that if you give people real value (music or anything else) they are happy to pay."

I believe that if the RIAA members were in the business of giving people anything of real value, there would not exist an RIAA.

Re:FTA (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747015)

It failed because he directly ignored advice of previous failed online music CEOs:

"As long as you're not trying to deliver music to consumers, you should be fine"
--Joe Fleischer, former CEO of iCast.

Never heard of it before now (4, Insightful)

jj00 (599158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746223)

I believe the real reason is that no one has really heard of the service and the site seems pretty amateurish.

Re:Never heard of it before now (4, Insightful)

nwf (25607) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747519)

Indeed, it looks just like a domain squatter site. When I first went there I though it was already gone and replaced by an advertisement site.

Tip for potential businesses: don't make a site whose business model relies on tech savvy people look like a site tech savvy people are trained to ignore.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746315)

Why do people want to spend lots of cash to have a fast internet connection and wait hours if they do not find any value in the content? Everyone I know who have spent hours with a laggy connection because they download Lost episdoes have done it because they wanted to watch them - why on earth else would they do so? The definition of value is that people choose to attain it.

I disagree with the view you present - I see it as a smokescreen for the real issue, which is that people want without paying. To cover this up, they claim the temporarily more acceptable justification that they would have paid if it was easy enough/quality enough/timely enough/service-goody enough. The world was never free of socialism, social-democratism, whatever, and the existence of goods that 'the people' find attractive but cannot attain is an abomination - if that is the case then it's better that they do not exist than they existing for only those with money.

Re:FTA (2, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746537)

Here is the real reason the business model failed:

"I believe that if you give people real value (music or anything else) they are happy to pay."
So THAT's why iTunes never sold a single song!

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746823)

DRM'd crap isn't a "real value". Hence, people flocking to it!

All about control (4, Interesting)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745681)

The reason that Robertson' business didn't succeed is that the record companies are getting tired of dealing with third-party vendors selling their music. They want total control over their content, whether it be distribution, payment methods, and DRM. They want to decide how you buy it, how much it cost, and what you can do with your purchased music. We're seeing this come to light now, with Universal and others pulling out of iTunes and controlling distribution internally.

Re:All about control (5, Interesting)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745929)

And this is where the music industry as it stands fails to see the logical end to their model: If it is more profitable for them to pull out of an aggregating portal site and run their own, then what's to prevent artists from doing the same? Why should artists remain with them in this scenario? Artists could, gasp, make their own deals with iTunes or the like. Odds are that artists will wind up with agents that manage that for them in return for a fee.

I would not be surprised to see this develop to their logical conclusion where there are distribution sites that offer a range of services to artists to distribute their work but do not "own" the distribution or copyrights to those works. This can only help artists in the long run, although the conversion to that environment will mostly likely have some short-term hiccups as marketing etc is worked out.

Re:All about control (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746027)

then what's to prevent artists from doing the same? Why should artists remain with them in this scenario?

usually contracts that state the artists have to pay them $BIGNUM if they decide to cancel the contract before it is fulfilled.

Re:All about control (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746181)

True, but contracts end, and newer artists may not sign up at all. Of course, then they lose the promotion, but I wouldn't find it beyond reason that iTMS would be happy to help out these artists seeing as how they could sell for the same price, and both Apple AND the artist would make more money.

Re:All about control (1, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746045)

The labels control the radio and most if not all of the traditional channels that people get their music from. If the labels control who knows about the artists, then only the artists that sign with labels will get known. The only artists that have been able to be successful without being whores of the executives are those people who used to be whores but got popular enough that they were able to break away. I don't see any reason this will change in the near future.

Re:All about control (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746623)

What do you think could keep Apple from muscling in right there? Either by paying a radio station or opening their own radio station altogether. If there's one thing Apple is REALLY good at, it's capturing trends and the zeitgeist and milking them. They got style. And teenagers dig style more than anything.

Apple does have the financial background to become a "label" all by themselves. Unless the Beatles object again, that is. :)

Re:All about control (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746697)

Why buy a radio station?
They have the IPhone. How long before that is streaming audio? I bet it hooks right up to any car stereo's IPod adapter. It lets AT&T compete with satellite radio. Throw in iTv for good measure and you have an Apple dominated supply chain.
Not any different that what Sony and Microsoft are dreaming about.
Radio Station? That is so 20th century.

Re:All about control (1)

Kamots (321174) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746633)

Depends how you define successful. Personally, I consider making your living from it being pretty successful. I'd consider doing performances nation-wide (nation-wide being all over the US) being successful as well. Just because you're not aware of the groups doesn't mean they're not out there... it's just typically for relatively niche markets. Take a look at the world of Celtic music for an example.

Re:All about control (5, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746103)

And this is where the music industry as it stands fails to see the logical end to their model: If it is more profitable for them to pull out of an aggregating portal site and run their own, then what's to prevent artists from doing the same? Why should artists remain with them in this scenario? Artists could, gasp, make their own deals with iTunes or the like. Odds are that artists will wind up with agents that manage that for them in return for a fee.

At the moment the Labels still have control over traditional media. So While you could theoretically make a living via web distribution it still requires people be aware of who you are. Word of mouth can do it but traditional media has the power of hype. Word of mouth is a natural hype. Traditional media brokers in an artificial hype.

I think it's inevitable that the internet replaces traditional media but it means the death of the super star. We'll go back to more regional artists with few cross region cross overs if there is a lack of a artificial national hype machine like the labels.

I think that may be a good thing. You don't' need millions to produce good music and may mean that instead of a lottery mentality in artists you'd have more of a real natural industry. Instead of 90% going to the super stars and 10% divided over the desperate numbers of struggling artists you might have a profession where you could actually live off playing music without having to be a superstar or have a second job.

Re:All about control (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746641)

Traditional media brokers in an artificial hype.

Risking being modded flamebait, but Apple is quite good at creating hypes too... So why shouldn't they succeed if they try to cut the studios and signing up artists directly? I could well see them create some kind of "Apple download chart show" on a few networks that only consist of songs downloaded from ITMS.

Re:All about control (0, Flamebait)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746889)

Risking being modded flamebait, but Apple is quite good at creating hypes too... So why shouldn't they succeed if they try to cut the studios and signing up artists directly? I could well see them create some kind of "Apple download chart show" on a few networks that only consist of songs downloaded from ITMS.

Possibly. At this point they aren't trying because the highly sought after content is under label control and doing this would create an instant hostile response. If all the labels opt out of iTune, then Apple has no reason not to proceed.. except for that injunction by Apple corp. Due to a previous legal settlement they can't become a music label as the label Apple corp already exists. There was a lawsuit before and it was settled with an agreement for Apple computers to not enter a mostly music content venture to respect apple corps trademark. Apple computers won the case with iTunes as it's content isn't Apple computers but instead the major labels. But going in as a indie label may be venturing too far into Apple corps space.

Although as time passes the relevance of Apple corps (who managed the Beatles catalog) Trademark may diminish. As almost everyone knows apple computers but not that many are aware of apple corp. I do imagine this is exactly what Apple corp had feared.

Re:All about control (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747571)

I think it's inevitable that the internet replaces traditional media but it means the death of the super star. We'll go back to more regional artists with few cross region cross overs if there is a lack of a artificial national hype machine like the labels.

So why aren't podcasts/webcasts and other new media "regional"? Ask a Ninja and other internet shows don't seem to have any geographic area....

I think fragmentation will occur, but I think it will be along more niche lines, just as we have lately. When I was a teenager, I listened to a "rock" station. They'd play Pink Floyd and Nirvana's newest stuff back to back. In a short time, there was no "rock" station any more. We have modern rock, classic rock, 80s rock, soft rock, indy rock, progressive rock, alternative, etc.; even good indy stations segmented their shows into similarly narrow buckets, and sometimes even narrower ones, like psychedelic rock in San Francisco from the 60's that never broke into the top 100. When the first radio generation speaks, there was mostly just "radio" -- without so many categories and sub-sub-genres with entire stations devoted to their worship.

Of course, the mystical musicians who found their own genres, will still be forced to wander as they always have.

Re:All about control (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746893)

I would not be surprised to see this develop to their logical conclusion where there are distribution sites that offer a range of services to artists to distribute their work but do not "own" the distribution or copyrights to those works.

I think Garage Band [garageband.com] has been trying to do something like this for a while. My brothers band used it for a while and I know at least one band that made it big, but did so by going through a traditional record label and having only been discovered on the site.

It's a great site to find indie artists. I've heard some good stuff and some complete crap. In general, I enjoy it for what it's worth: something I won't hear on the radio.

Cheers,
Fozzy

Re:All about control (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747389)

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame has been giving away Garageband files of some of his songs for a while now:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=7xF&pwst=1&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=NIN+garageband&spell=1 [google.com]

Re:All about control (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746925)

Well the studios still have studios. The artists may have to pay for them, but not up front, and it seems only if the CD sells. If it flops, is the artist out anything?

Artists still need a label ... (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746999)

Why should artists remain with them in this scenario?

Artists need a label if they desire a certain level of commercial success. It takes a lot of money to promote an artist and bring them to the attention of the mass national or world market. Artists can not afford to do this on the money they making playing in small venues, among their core audience. If they manage to feed themselves they are doing above average, if they can support a family they are so rare they are nearly an anomoly.

The label system persists because there will always be some artists who want large scale success. Of course these successful artists gripe when they think about the small percentage they receive themselves but the truth is they are getting a small percentage of a much larger pie. If you are only getting 5 cents on the dollar, but you are generating several hundred times (or more) the revenue then they are far ahead.. To be faiir to the labels they need a disproportionately large cut from one artist to pay for the dozens of other artists they had *speculatively* financed they did not attain large scale commercial success. Please understand that I am not saying the current label/artist split is correct, I have no way to calculate what the split should be. I am merely arguing that the label system is quite logical and it is economically justifiable for the labels to receive a large percentage due to the speculative nature of their investments.

Artists have almost always needed patrons throughout history. Centuries ago it was the church, royalty, or the wealthy. Today the record label fulfills that role.

I would not be surprised to see this develop to their logical conclusion where there are distribution sites that offer a range of services to artists to distribute their work but do not "own" the distribution or copyrights to those works. This can only help artists in the long run, although the conversion to that environment will mostly likely have some short-term hiccups as marketing etc is worked out.

The marketing required is far beyond hiccup level. What is the source of money used to *speculatively* promote an artist beyond the level I decribed above?

Re:All about control (1)

acroyear (5882) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747175)

Why should artists remain with them in this scenario?

Because there's more to the record label promotional engine than just getting the stuff in the stores.

When "all things are done as they should be", the label gets you on a larger tour than just your local region, often opening for a much larger band that the label also manages; the label gets you on a network tv show (like Leno or Today); the label gets your video on what few video stations/shows are still on the air; the label (still) uses payola schemes to get you on the radio (which in spite of EVERYTHING that sucks about it, it still remains the #1 way of getting music heard and thus purchased).

granted, in spite of the fact that the label owns 88% of your record, they will still take as many of these expenses out of your "recouped from royalties" in order to guarantee that your record never makes a profit and they never have to actually account for you, but that's the Labels' side of the Faustian bargain that is the modern record contract, unchanged since the labels first looked at Elvis and said "hey, we could get rich too if we figure out how to clone this guy...".

that's also a big IF on whether or not they'll do any of that at all - with label heads and middle-managers changing on a daily basis in that hollywood-esque hell, chances are that half way through making the album, your AR man has been fired and you won't get shit for support and will be lucky if they even let you keep the recordings you've made to sell (for points, of course) to another label.

Re:All about control (1)

Frizzle Fry (149026) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747237)

The label fronts the money to cover the production of your album. If you are going to cut them out and go directly to the aggregating site with your record, then you and your fellow bandmembers are going to need to pay out of pocket for studio time, etc., in hopes that you will make it back.

Re:All about control (4, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746019)

And they are going to wonder why sales drop further as they pick one form of DRM that many players can't handle.

So they'll sell DRM WMA files and lose all the iPod users, or they'll sell AC4 and lose all the "Windows" compatible players.

AND

They'll piss off people who don't want to go to fifty different sights trying to hunt down the music they want.

And then they'll blame piracy for slow sales.

Re:All about control (1)

kat_skan (5219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746609)

So they'll sell DRM WMA files and lose all the iPod users, or they'll sell AC4 and lose all the "Windows" compatible players.

Or. You know. Crazy thought: they could just sell both.

Re:All about control (1)

goaliemn (19761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747475)

I'm sure they would sell both if Apple would license the AC4 DRM, which microsoft does do for the WMA DRM.

Re:All about control (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746679)

There's two things that I blame for dwindling sales: Crippling DRM that scares me away, since I don't know whether the CD (or DL) works in my choice of player (and before I buy a CD that I can't even return, I don't buy it altogether, why should the risk be on me?), and the fact that it's really, really hard to find any kind of music today (from the big labels) that doesn't consist of "hype today - gone tomorrow" people supposedly being "artists".

Re:All about control (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746225)

The reason that Robertson' business didn't succeed is that the record companies are getting tired of dealing with third-party vendors selling their music.

Yeah, I noticed that Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Wherehouse, CDNow, my neighborhood drugstore, Amazon, Borders, hell, every place I can think of that used to cell CD's has gone out of...wait, no, they still sell CD's.

Re:All about control (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746715)

They do not sell CDs. At least many of those flat devices containing encoded data supposedly being music are not CDs.

To be a CD, you'd have to conform to the Red Book standard, which they don't. I dunno what they're called, but if I was Philips, I'd sue if those things are called Compact Discs.

Re:All about control (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747197)

Well, one interesting thing to note about all of your examples is that all of them sell other things besides CDs. While CDs might be a sizeable portion of their business, it is not the majority share for any of them. I think record^H^H^H^H^H^H music stores would be a better barometer of measuring music media sales because their business health is much more drastically impacted by it.

Then again, the control that record companies most likely want lies within the antiquated model of producing and distibuting a physical, saleable object and not rely upon empowering someone else to reproduce the product, who could theoretically misreport their reproduction numbers. It isn't so much about third parties selling music as it is about third parties reproducing music, authorized or otherwise.

Another shining example of failure to adapt (3, Interesting)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745683)

I have to agree with his biggest point, that people WANT the music, but they also insist on value. This is an area where The Labels have failed to grasp onto the idea of adapting to the medium of the day: the Internet.

Isn't there a theory about failing to adapt and thus failing to survive? Sounds familiar for some reason. (Though, in this unfortunate case, failing to adapt to lack of adaptation lead to demise. Sounds soooo bass akwards!)

Re:Another shining example of failure to adapt (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746015)

This is an area where The Labels have failed to grasp onto the idea of adapting to the medium of the day: the Internet.

Isn't there a theory about failing to adapt and thus failing to survive? Sounds familiar for some reason.

Well, the Labels want to make sure that they get paid every time you listen. If they can't do that, they'll try to ensure you only get to play it if you have the original CD (or if they can install a rootkit on your machine, or what have you).

See, you only have to adapt to survive when you can't have the environment around you modified. When you can get laws passed like the DMCA which allow you to make it a crime to do things that used to be covered under fair use (or, indeed, try to legally remove the concept of fair use altogether), you don't need to adapt.

In their current business model, they can change the reality around them. I'm with you, hopefully "adapt or die" will have to apply to them. But, I'm not holding out any belief that they're willing to accept any scenario in which I buy music, digitize it, and then listen to it on any device I want to when I want to without further requirements imposed by them. To them, they want complete control of how I use it once it's in my hands.

Cheers

Give me 320kbps VBR Downloads (0, Flamebait)

fishyfool (854019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745697)

for a good price, and I'll buy. Keep the CD, I'll burn my own. As much as Robertson tried, he still didn't get it.

Re:Give me 320kbps VBR Downloads (2, Insightful)

Indecision Bob (52021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746033)

Personally, I find it just as much hassle to burn a cd of everything I buy as it is to rip a cd of everything I buy... And you don't get no artwork...

No Thanks: Re:Give me 320kbps VBR Downloads (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746075)

Give me lossless compression please, although uncompressed is fine too.

Re:Give me 320kbps VBR Downloads (1)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746241)

Give me the CD and forget the MP3s and buy 'em right up.

I guess you don't get it either.

AnywhereCD ??? (5, Funny)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745699)

I think I can offer a better reason why this company failed:


Raise your hand if you both a) have heard of AnywhereCD and b) purchased anything from them.

Re:AnywhereCD ??? (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745747)

Even worse, he actually things his "going out of business sale" price of $7 is a good deal for his crappy inventory. I wonder if he'll be shocked when nobody buys.

Re:AnywhereCD ??? (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746647)

I probably will. In 3 minutes of cursory browsing I found at least 3 albums I'd like. It's really too bad that word of this business didn't get out more, as fishybell alluded to. I'd have definitely been a regular customer, but yeah...never heard of them before just now. He clearly doesn't get advertising these days, as he talked about how he didn't get media coverage. All it takes is getting the front page of Digg / Reddit / del.icio.us/popular once or twice in 6 months and most internet users will know about you - screw old media coverage.

Re:AnywhereCD ??? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745767)

Exactly. I went to the website to check it out (and hey, $7 albums aren't a bad deal and I'm willing to risk a few bucks on him closing up shop early and taking the money and running for a deal) and about the best I can say about it is that it looks "clean". While I like clean design, if I had stumbled across this website randomly I doubt I would have bought anything from it. It looks like a phishing site on the front page. The selection is also very thin, so if you're looking for anything specific you are almost certainly out of luck.

Re:AnywhereCD ??? (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746495)

Agreed, as nice as it is that it moves quickly, it looks like it's sparse because not a lot of effort was put into it, i.e. illegitimate somehow. Also, I'd like to browse through their catalog by artist, but it's just a random jumble with no option to sort the list. I'll pass.

Re:AnywhereCD ??? (0, Redundant)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746763)

From TFA:

After signing the contract we invested months of labor and resources into building the technology to amass the digital inventory, creating the web site, constructing the e-commerce system and testing the process.
Months? How many months does one have to work to get quality content like this? [anywherecd.com] Somebody gotted robbed.

I have found 7 albums so far in their inventory that I would like to buy. Unfortunately I didn't realize the cost was $7 + $3 S&H. That's kind of a big shipping premium there. Buying multiple CDs doesn't drop the shipping price one thin dime. I would much rather spend $7 on the mp3's and save $3 S&H. Had they done just that, I would be spending $50 there right now.

Re:AnywhereCD ??? (1)

mbrinkm (699240) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746771)

I agree with you on the looks of the site and the selection.

I would also add the site lacks a lot of functionality that I require for an online music store that I would frequent for purchases. It doesn't have a description of the album other than the tracks, cover, and title. No reviews, description of the music within the album, no "similar to these artists". Basically, if you're not positive that these albums are exactly what you want you would have to look elsewhere to make sure, then come back to buy it (which you wouldn't do). The browse functionality is absolutely awful. The genre selection for the browsing does not allow for drilling down for more specific interests (again limiting any musical exploring you may want to do).

Add those problems to the limited advertising, limited selection and the "phishing" look of the site; it's no wonder the place is going under.

It's too bad that there are so many problems with it. The concept is one that I would be interested in supporting. It could be improved upon (lossless compression & OGG in addition to MP3 as a choice, singles discs / downloads, etc.) but it covered my main dislike of downloading MP3's (trading a CD quality track for a lossy compression download usually encumbered with DRM) with the purchase both aspect.

Did you look at the store? (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746029)

The site [anywherecd.com] looks awful. Maybe the selection used to be better, but what I see there now certainly doesn't warrant excitement or press coverage. I generally find the work that Michael Robertson does interesting but this isn't a project I'd have taken much notice to on it's own merits. At least not as it currently stands.

Re:Did you look at the store? (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746263)

The site looks awful.
My first impression was the site was one of those fake sites with no original content other than keyword ads. The tabular list of category keywords is always a cue for that. And, the yellow banner image looks exactly like a typical banner ad so I completely ignored it at first, which I doubt is intended because it's actually content.

The design of the site is extremely lacking. I doubt it required more than 20 minutes work. It's hard to take a site seriously when they're unwilling to spend any real time on presentation.

"Dont get it"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20745703)

A fascinating story about how at least some of the labels still don't get it
If the labels are the ones not getting it, how come they are still in business and AnywhereCD is tanking?

Don't confuse good business with ignorance. Just because they act like assholes doesn't mean they don't know what they are doing.

Re:"Dont get it"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20745783)

If the labels are the ones not getting it, how come they are still in business and AnywhereCD is tanking?

Hmm... because Anywhere CD hasn't bought the laws necessary to prop up its business model? Just a guess.

Re:"Dont get it"? (1)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746025)

"If the labels are the ones not getting it, how come they are still in business and AnywhereCD is tanking?"

...BUT the labels are starting to tank. small labels are folding by the dozens and the big ones are hemorrhaging and don't get why they are gushing blood. It does come down to the simple fact of they "just don't get it". Maintaining an old school mentality in a new world that is changing faster than they can send out RIAA letters to colleges is just not going to cut it. It is going to take a maverick(insert Top Gun references) to work at a label and "get it", thus lowering prices, putting music out there for the masses, and working with what people truly want and how they want it.

Seemed like a good idea... (5, Interesting)

bteeter (25807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745711)

I'd never heard of them until today - and I practically live online. They must not have been marketing all that much for me to have not even heard of them.

In any event, it sounds like AnywhereCD had a pretty decent business idea, except maybe that it should be the CD as the "addon" instead of the downloads.

I wonder if Apple or any of the other major retailers will ever offer an option like "buy this digital album for $x and for $y more get a CD copy". I don't see why not. CD's are so cheap you could sell them as add ons for say $5 dollars more than the download and make a nice profit. Plus the buyer will have the permanency of the CD.

Re:Seemed like a good idea... (1)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746237)

$15 for 100 blank CDs is as much permanence as most people need. If you want true longevity, get the vinyl. I've seen vinyl that comes with free MP3 downloads of the songs, at shows. That seems like a good way to do it.

Re:Seemed like a good idea... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747005)

get the vinyl.

The what? Is that the name of a group?

Oh, got it - the thingy with the little arm that I threw away a decade or two ago.

But getting a mastered CD with artwork and a cute little box (or a mastered record with artwork sized so you can actually see the details) isn't a bad thing. Just not sure where I'd put them...

Re:Seemed like a good idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20747501)

I'd never heard of them until today - and I practically live online.

Same here. And I don't just live online. As a half-time DJ and music collector I buy piles of CDs and vinyl all the time - basically all of it online. At this very moment there are maybe three or four different orders being shipped to me and that's nothing unusual. If you have some good discs for a fair price, I'll definitely take a look.

Now, this fair price thing...while reading (yes, really) Michael's article I immediately spotted something:

To entice the labels my strategy was to pay the wholesale price for CDs plus give them $2 for the digital tracks.

Most of the labels refused. That's why the catalogue was "crappy". They wanted more. Possibly more cash, possibly more restrictions. Whatever. The unfortunate side is that even that $2 was a lot more than I'm willing to pay for mp3s on top of my CD purchases.

OK, I'm a geek. I've used MP3 since 1995 or so and a dozen other digital formats as well. I have no problems ripping and converting my own stuff - but does anyone else either? I mean, even Windows Media Player probably has a big red button which copies a CD to a format it can play. I'd assume most portable MP3 players also have a ripping/converting software which loads a CD to the player without any hassle. Why would anyone pay $2 for a job which is trivially easy to do? Maybe it could have its uses with those broken CDs which don't play on a PC without geekish trickery. But then again, why would a record label offer restricted CDs which eventually come with a near-perfect quality non-DRMd digital copy?

I simply don't believe that this one small shop could offer competitive prices when there are several mega-warehouses selling CDs online (including the very latest ones) for less than $14. Most of them give free or half-free shipping. This one asked...what? $3 per disc? I didn't even find the cost easily.

So, the bottom line seems to be "the same CDs as elsewhere for higher prices" and that's it. The 192 kbps MP3 is a nice bonus but pretty much unnecessary to anyone who can operate the simplest ripping software. (Besides, I prefer making my custom files in lossless, VBR, OGG or something similar.) Why should I bother? The labels killed this concept already before it started and the pale shadow which finally launched wasn't advertised at all. Nobody seemed to care either and I can't blame people for that. There's little reason to pay extra for nothing.

Oh well, maybe I'll grab some $7 CDs if I can locate the shipping costs and they're reasonable. You can keep the MP3, though. Not even worth the bandwith it'd take.

Not even /. covered it (4, Interesting)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745741)

Sadly, few press outlets covered our grand opening. Looking back I suspect there were probably many contributing factors.

I did a search for anything here on the /. and, other than this article, nothing came up. I guess that not even /. wanted to cover a new (and rather interesting) online music store.

Re:Not even /. covered it (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746063)

Probably he never submitted it anywhere. Even Google doesn't know much about this site; the first page is all new articles about how it is shutting down. I'm wondering if he did any advertising at all (even free advertising by submitting articles to Slashdot and the like)?

Warners Seems To Be The Smartest Label (1)

illectro (697914) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745753)

The idea for anywhereCD was great, maybe a decade ago, I remember a few digital music companies tried similar things but nothing ever on the scale of this. However now the labels are starting to change from their 'sue everyone' attitude which has helped contribute to the digital music monoculture where you play with Apple or you don't play at all. Perhaps most radical is Warner brothers who have basicly made their whole catalog available for free, online at imeem.com [imeem.com] - a couple of months ago they were suing imeem [theregister.co.uk] over its 'youtube for music' model, but then they surprised everyone by signing a deal.

Record Labels hate all things digital (2, Insightful)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745841)

unless it comes wrapped in a mountain of DRM. Let's face it - the entire recording industry's existence is based on its ability to gouge artists on one ends and consumers on the other. They could get away with this because they controlled who had access to their expensive studios and who could get heard on the radio (Payola lives to this day), what was carried in stores, and more importantly what was promoted in stores. The value of each and every one of these points of control is diminishing by the minute. The labels are all fucked, they know it and they're grasping at whatever straws they can and dragging their feet wherever possible. It's all just delaying the inevitable - people will buy reasonably priced music (look at the success of iTunes), but they won't get fucked if they no longer have to. Siooma, motherfuckers.

Re:Record Labels hate all things digital (1)

dupup (784652) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746085)

ability to gouge artists on one ends and consumers on the other

Oh, man, not sure which end I'd rather be gouged on. Eeeeww.

Re:Record Labels hate all things digital (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746455)

Then why don't they bring back the vinyl? Seriously, I'd love for them to go back to producing records. There's something nastolgic about them.

Don't get me wrong, I love CD's too. There's no way in hell I'd ever use a vinyl record in a car, and I'm even hesitant to use original CD's in cars because the roads suck where I live, but when listening on a HiFi system at home, I'd love to have the option to listen to new music on vinyl. Maybe this would also help protect us against a dramatically compressed dynamic range....

Re:Record Labels hate all things digital (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747545)

Then why don't they bring back the vinyl? Seriously, I'd love for them to go back to producing records. There's something nastolgic about them.
Is "nastolgia" something you'd rather forget about? ;-)

The music industry sucks (4, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745905)

Sorry, no one is addressing the real problems:

The music sucks. Maybe one good song on an album.
Little girls who can't sing dancing on stage with no cloths
Utter and complete pathological need to control the content
contempt for their customers
Failure to recognize that people like music on CDs, MP3 playes, and their computers and don't want to pay three times.

Re:The music industry sucks (2, Funny)

qweqwe321 (1097441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746135)

> the music sucks

Well, yes, the music does suck, but it's not like music overall has gotten better or worse over the years. Remember the old rule, "95% of everything is crap?" It was true 50 years ago when the record labels were making out like gangbusters and it's still true today. The only difference now is that no one remembers lousy bubble-gum pop bands from the early 1960s like "The Archies." "The music sucks" isn't a real problem-- it's code for "get off my lawn."

Re:The music industry sucks (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746233)

Well, yes, the music does suck, but it's not like music overall has gotten better or worse over the years. Remember the old rule, "95% of everything is crap?" It was true 50 years ago when the record labels were making out like gangbusters and it's still true today. The only difference now is that no one remembers lousy bubble-gum pop bands from the early 1960s like "The Archies." "The music sucks" isn't a real problem-- it's code for "get off my lawn."

You may say that, and while I respect your statement, when "I" was in high school and later, my generation listened to the music of our generation. We had the Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zeplen, etc. Want to know what high school kids listen too today? The Who, Pink Floyd, Led Zeplin, etc. Only the jr. high schoolers go for the pop crap these days.

The rare stuff that is good, is, um, rare. The techno talentless crap that shows up on MTV awards sucks. That's why kids aren't buying it.

Re:The music industry sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746429)

SOME kids listen to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, etc. It's ignorant to state that all of them do. There are plenty of high schoolers, 20 somethings, 30 somethings, etc. that listen to current popular music.

Re:The music industry sucks (1)

babyrat (314371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746431)

Little girls who can't sing dancing on stage with no cloths

Why is this a problem?

Re:The music industry sucks (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746507)

Little girls who can't sing dancing on stage with no cloths

Why is this a problem?


It may not be a problem, but it really isn't "music" either.

Re:The music industry sucks (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746821)

The music sucks. Maybe one good song on an album.

Then I suggest that you do not care passionately enough about music to be able to justify the time to go and find good music which lasts for a complete album.

I view CDs as absolutely **EXCELLENT** value for money because:

1. I have a reasonable hifi and spend time **JUST** listening to music without doing anything else - thus I appreciate it more.

2. I do a lot of research into music. I read reviews, yes I "illegally" download music from Usenet or Bittorrent but then either by the CD if I like it or delete the MP3s without wanting to even waste disk space. That way I know I will really like an album before I buy it.

3. I spend time looking for the cheapest CD prices - eBay, the Web, second-hand and charity shops - I'm always getting best value for money.

Anybody who complains about albums having "one/two good tracks" either does not have the attention span to cope with any single album or is just allowing him/herself to be forcefed the commercial tripe that infects the pop charts at the moment.

mlod do3n (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20745919)

for members4i4. = 1400 NetBSD own lube, beverage,

Embedding credit card numbers???? (4, Interesting)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20745933)

Am I the only one whose jaw just about hit the floor when reading this asinine comment? It absolutely amazes me that ANYBODY would make such a suggestion. I could see identity thieves salivating at the thought of this. (Yes, I know you would need more than just the number to really do anything with it)

That guy should see if the job of CEO at Sony is available...

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746091)

I would us one time use cc#'s, or I can sign up for a CC, use it only for their products, then pay it off and cancel it.

What's the problem here?

If it had my address as well, I could use a MailBoxes Etc. mailing address, but I probably wouldn't go to the trouble.

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (2, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746247)

That guy should see if the job of CEO at Sony is available...
Looking for a dead-end career path, where your products are full of potential but little value? Do you like insulting your customers and then telling them that they like it? Have I got the job for you!

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746451)

Agreed. It's probably illegal and an insane suggestion.

However, to play devil's advocate, I'm sure the label probably figured "well, if they don't have the exp date or the owner's name they should be OK." I mean, I can guess any 16-digit Visa number and probably guess one correctly. Without a name or expiration date it would be pretty useless.

Again, horribly wrong on so many levels. However I can probably see their train of logic

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746573)

If you could correctly guess a Visa card number, you're quite lucky, considering there are 10^16 (10,000,000,000,000,000) digit combinations.

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746649)

You left out one possibility: Perhaps they wanted to "encrypt" the number in DRM, and claim it was secure.

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746501)

Seems to me you've missed why the labels would want this: If your credit card is embedded in an MP3 file, are you really going to even pass it on to your friends, let alone upload it onto a P2P file distribution network?

It actually makes perfect sense, and your exact reasons for being horrified at the idea are almost certainly why it was proposed, not something they didn't think of.

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747323)

It actually makes perfect sense, and your exact reasons for being horrified at the idea are almost certainly why it was proposed, not something they didn't think of.

But this assumes that the only way of getting at the music is by knowingly passing on the songs. Stolen iPods, insecure PCs, worms and the likes would soon be a source for extracting that information. Not good.

Re:Embedding credit card numbers???? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747093)

That one jumped out at me, too. I'm reminded of one of my sister's law school classmates, who worked at Sears, and whose job apparently consisted mostly of telling their execs on a daily basis that their latest hare-brained scheme was illegal.

-jcr

Watermarks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746009)

"A fascinating story about how at least some of the labels still don't get it and why "

Well I suppose if the lesson is, "we don't want to be held accountable for our actions."? I can see why no one with a "reciprocal agreement" business model would "get it". Do you think the consumer will ever figure out what it means to live in a society?

Not a great concept, but.... (0, Redundant)

Blitz22 (1122015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746021)

I for one will miss our $7/CD overlords.....

The Whole Enchilada (2, Interesting)

daskrabs (976610) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746055)

The only way the labels can make a profit off of digital downloads is to offer a subscription to their entire library, with on-demand access to any album, available at home and on the road, without any restrictions. That way, you eliminate the need for illegal downloads and file sharing. People will gladly pay for that. I would. And this, of course, does not apply to people who still want to buy CD's for the sake of an official tangible package from the artist. The day this happens, we all win.

Re:The Whole Enchilada (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746173)

The only way the labels can make a profit off of digital downloads is to offer a subscription to their entire library, with on-demand access to any album, available at home and on the road, without any restrictions. That way, you eliminate the need for illegal downloads and file sharing. People will gladly pay for that. I would. And this, of course, does not apply to people who still want to buy CD's for the sake of an official tangible package from the artist. The day this happens, we all win.

iTunes showed that most people weren't in it so much for the "free" music as for the "convenient" music. So while there are many who will never pay for music or pay more then a subscription fee, Apple showed there is a significant number that doesn't mind paying $0.99 for a song.

Re:The Whole Enchilada (1)

daskrabs (976610) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746801)

True, some people will pay 99 cents. Most don't, however. The percentage of music purchased from the iTunes store per iPod is very small. The "convenience" factor would be much better suited to a subscription-based model, IMHO.

Re:The Whole Enchilada (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747171)

Last time I checked it was about 5 songs per iPod, that was a year or two ago so it might be as high as 10 or so now. Since most iPods hold many times that number I think we can safely conclude their true purpose for most people.

Rhapsody (1)

durdur (252098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747329)

Sounds like Rhapsody [rhapsody.com] .

Who Owns the Record Companies? (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746119)

Aren't most record companies part of bigger media companies? There doesn't seem to be anyone above them saying, "you are aren't adapting to the changing market dynamics, start adapting."

Has there been any change in management or management philosophy that I am not aware of?

Re:Who Owns the Record Companies? (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746299)

No, but they soon will be... The music industry as a whole is in the process of serious downsizing, and there is nothing that can be done about it. The internet basically destroyed their "we sell availablity to music" business model. Combine that with the record companies for years forcing people to purchase the entire album rather than the individual song they want, and you have a world of hurt still coming to them...

The end game is pretty well understood here in that it will be more M & A action. Because there are only a handful of players now, I suspect that the entire music industry will be sucked up by the much larger media companies, but they must fall further in value before this can happen. Also, their arrogance must reset as well... There is little doubt that the glory days are over..

Re:Who Owns the Record Companies? (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746465)

Aren't most record companies part of bigger media companies? There doesn't seem to be anyone above them saying, "you are aren't adapting to the changing market dynamics, start adapting."

Has there been any change in management or management philosophy that I am not aware of?


Not yet. My generation is the first of the "less TV" generation. We watch less then our older counter parts did and tend towards other sedentary activities like video games. Once we get into power we may start changing things. IF the major media giants don't adapt they may become irrelevant. Viewer ship in the prized 18-34 male demo is slipping. So perhaps when todays 18-34 year olds become studio heads we may see some change.

Don't forget clunky software... (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746159)

Rather than just "Download file" you've got to download some random third party app to actually receive your music on MP3.

PCI anyone? (2, Insightful)

alcourt (198386) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746179)

Somehow I suspect the credit card companies wouldn't like that idea. It would use the PAN in an area where it is not required and storing it (presumably) unencrypted.

Credit gift cards (3, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746185)

Michael Robertson chronicles how at least one record label wanted him to embed credit card numbers of buyers into songs.

Credit gift cards [google.com] are excellent to use if you're buying stuff online and don't want the vendor to have any personal info. Good for sites like mp3sparks. Or if you're buying modchips. Or any online transaction where you don't want the buyer to know anything about you, or have any access to your accounts.

Or so I hear.

Re:Credit gift cards (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746583)

...any personal info...
That's great, but you forgot to mention to the truly paranoid that they would also need to buy the gift-cards out of state, use a TOR-like anonymity solution, mask their browser settings, and not buy music they actually like (or at least buy a few country albums to confuse big brother).

Oops... I forgot to post as an anonymous coward. Now they know my modus operandi. Better get my aluminum hat on quick...

This FP for GNAA!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20746255)

Contributed code states that there again. There are of playing your Discussion I'm Clean for the nExt 800 mhz machine Expulsion of IPF (7000+1400+700)*4 The mobo blew

Thanks for all the feedback (5, Interesting)

Lindows.com Michael (550978) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746347)

A couple points I might add:

- Until 9/30 most all of the CDs are $7 which includes a physical CD and 192K MP3 files loaded nicely and permanently into your locker.

- One poster complained you can't download the MP3 file without installing an application. That's inaccurate. You can download all the tracks individually directly from the locker - no application install required. Just click on the triangle in the flash UI and select "download".

- We do provide several different applications for your convenience all of which work on Linux as well as the other PC OSes. There's an Album Downloader which will with one click download any new purchases and load into iTunes or your fave media player. There's also Locker Sync 3.0 which will sync your entire music library from locker to PC. So lots of different options.

- Slashdotters might be interested in our API (see: http://mp3tunes.com/api [mp3tunes.com] ). My vision is all your music goes into your personal locker and then with a click can be streamed or synced to ANY device in the world. It's a very open view of the world and of your media. We have 100,000 lockers and a great list of devices coming by this holiday season all of which talk directly to a locker. We're even having a contest to spur developers for $10,000 to come up with new music devices/interfaces: See http://mp3tunes.com/contest [mp3tunes.com]

-- MR

Re:Thanks for all the feedback (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20747089)

- One poster complained you can't download the MP3 file without installing an application. That's inaccurate. You can download all the tracks individually directly from the locker - no application install required. Just click on the triangle in the flash UI and select "download".

I would have to install a Flash player. No joke. Fair or not, I don't see the logic in needing Flash to download a player. That may not be an AnywhereCD-caused problem. But any pothole on the road to paying for music detours me to gnutella

Re:Thanks for all the feedback (1)

dennism (13667) | more than 6 years ago | (#20747351)

I would have to install a Flash player. No joke. Fair or not, I don't see the logic in needing Flash to download a player. That may not be an AnywhereCD-caused problem. But any pothole on the road to paying for music detours me to gnutella

At this point in time, having a Flash plugin installed is not something considered unreasonable. Refusing to install Flash, IMO, is like the people who refused to use a graphical browser a few years ago.

It failed because it doesn't fucking work (2, Insightful)

noewun (591275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746529)

So, I figure I'd throw a few bucks into the company's till try to find some music I like. I did find some oldish Oakenfold I never got around to buying, so I got it, followed the instructions in the email they sent me and figured I download the mp3s while I ran some errands. The only problem is I can't.

Well, that's not the only problem. Problem #1 is that I have to download some third party app to download the mp3s, which doesn't make sense: I have downloaded thousands of things off of websites, and none of them has needed a third party app. What does this third party app do? Does it install spyware on my system? Does it report back to the record companies? Where's the info telling me what it does? But I did it anyway, cause I want my music. Only now, it won't download anything: it's stuck in "adding album to queue", where it's been for fifteen minutes. I looked in the email, and it mentioned another way to download the tracks, which is to click on the Playlist in my online music locker. Only problem is that the music I just bought isn't there, so I can't download it. Boy, I hope I get the CD in the mail, or I just wasted $20 on nothing. Or, in other words, I just got ripped off

So, Mr. Robertson, your idea failed for one simple reason: it sucks. Apple's iTunes Music Store runs circles around CDAnywhere in ease of use and execution. So does eMusic.com. You failed to produce a competitive product, plain and simple, and all the conspiracy theories in the world won't explain it away.

Maybe they should have tried... (2, Insightful)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746619)

doing some advertising? I never even heard of this outfit before today. And I probably would have bought
some stuff from them, depending on the price. Heck, while I'm at it, I'm taking advantage of the "closeout sale"
to pick up some stuff I didn't have (a couple of Kix and Skid Row CDs) for cheap.

Re:Maybe they should have tried... (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 6 years ago | (#20746807)

Or it could have something to do with this: http://anywherecd.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]
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