In File Wars, people talk about the two sides “compromising.”
Trouble is, the only compromising I’m seeing is on the RIAA’s side.
Rather surprisingly, they’ve made at least some good faith efforts to provide legal online music. They haven’t been perfect, but it’s hardly “buy CDs or die.”
Now Apple has joined in. They’ve hooked up with Warner, BMG, EMI, Sony Music and Universal to offer the following:
200,000 songs. You want them? 99 cents a song, or $9.99 an album. They’ll offer 30-second previews of each and every song.
What can you do with your 99 cent song?
You can burn it on a CD. You can burn a particular arrangement of songs up to ten times on a CD.
You can copy the songs onto as many as three computers.
You can copy it to an iPod.
The system uses a new kind of file called AAC (Advanced Audio Coding). It’s supposed to sound better than MP3. It also provides for copy protection, but as you can see, it’s pretty mellow copy protection.
For now, only Macsters will be able to do this, but by the end of the year, if things work out, this service will wash Windows, too.
Put Up Or Shut Up Time
The Apple approach seems to address all the legitimate complaints people have had about earlier online efforts.
Perhaps prices could be a bit more flexible than “99 cents for anything and everything” but that’s bound to come in time.
I don’t know if current MP3 players will be able to handle these files, but iPods can handle this with a software update, so it seems like modification is at least possible.
This really seems to be a “put up or shut up” move on the part of the music companies. I don’t see how much more they can bend (at least in the area of usability) without giving the store away.
If this carrot (especially if non-Apple MP3 players can be converted into AAC players) doesn’t work, the next step won’t be an even juicier carrot.
It will be the stick.
You know where to find me. If this is the last, best offer, is this good enough, or at least very close to it?