The How and Y of Music

...Or the new entertainment utility

I read today that Yahoo is starting an on-line music service. The service is going to be a like Napster or Rhapsody. That means customers will pay monthly for streaming radio. You can download burnable tracks for $.79 a piece.

I am not sure how the Napster and Rhapsody services are doing now. I am not sure if Yahoo thinks it can correct the others mistakes or if they think their size will help. According to the article Yahoo thinks they can do a better job at marketing the service.

"We think, obviously, there's a lot of education to do around subscription services," said Yahoo Music general manager David Goldberg.

"People understand radio; people understand on-demand listening of CDs," he said. "The value of subscription is not just that I have a million tracks, but I can go and get access easily to the tracks that I want out of that million."

Yahoo getting in with this business model makes me think that everyone wants to find the next cell phone business. Every MBA grad out there will tell you that monthly recurring billing is the best business model for companies. Companies just have to worry about attracting new customers. It is almost like compounding interest.

The problem with this is that when you stop paying for the music you have nothing to show for it. That is now how people are used to paying for music. I think I would rather spend my $7 a month buying tracks I can keep and burn. I know if I buy more than 35 single tracks on iTunes it starts balance out.

I can see a world where all forms of mass entertainment is a subscription service. Companies will try to sell us on the idea that we can rent from a huge library all the time. We can have any song we want at any moment, that is as long as they keep that song as part of the service.

I know that people are willing to pay a monthly fee for things like cable TV. The difference is that with cable TV you get content that you cannot get anywhere else. You also get a better picture then antenna. With streaming audio you get worse audio and content you can get anywhere.

I think this is a bad trend. There are lots of things in my life that I do not want to pay a monthly fee for. I do not want everyone to get a little bit of me every month. I want to pick and choose what I spend money on. I do not want to have an empty MP3 player because I am trying to save money to go on vacation. I am worried that this trend will continue. I am worried that it will become more attractive to the people who hold the rights to the entertainment.

People know that I am a fan of eMusic. I thought I should give them another plug. I made another list albums worth subscribing for. The big difference with eMusic is you are downloading MP3s every month. That means you keep the songs if you cancel your subscription. That is an important difference to me. It is just a matter of what business model wins out in the end.


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