And that's why FM radio is free...

The Register: Why Napster will be a fully-integrated flop (via Hack the Planet)

"The big difference here is that after the three years are up, [the iPod/iTunes customer] has something to show for his investment. He still owns the music. If the Napster customer stops paying for the service, his music is all gone. He's paying $179 per year to rent music. This isn't high quality stuff either. It's DRM (digital rights management)-laced, low bitrate slop.

... After six years, you've tossed away $1,076 for something that barely exists. Forget to pay for a month and watch your music collection disappear. (Not to mention, you're betting on the fact that Napster will even exist two years from now. At least you know that a year's subscription to the Wall Street Journal will still work in 12 months time.)"

That's a good start, but it's worse than that. Who has time to pick and download enough songs to fill a high-capacity music player? And if you did, would you really want to listen to that many different songs each month? There's only so much good music worth listening to over and over. You're going to be skipping song after song on your player to find something good. If you really want a huge and random music selection, get a portable FM radio for $30 (one-time fee) and get all the content you want for free!

I think the target audience for the subscription is young people that likes whatever is in the Top-40 charts. Well, for less than $100 a year, they could get the entire Billboard Top-100 on iTunes, and in 6 years, for $600 (probably closer to $550 or $500 since there is overlap year-to-year, you'd have *6* years worth of Top-100 music to listen to "forever", compared to paying $15 a month for 6 years (= $1080) to get the same selection, and a bunch of other crap, and still not owning it.

The only possible scenario where a subscription looks good is for audiobooks. After I listen to an audiobook it's not likely I'm going to want to hear it again (and again (and again)). For those I do, I can buy them, for the rest, I'll just skip it. If I could get audiobook subscription that would be cheaper than the monthly habit of buying them outright, that would make sense. That said, I don't buy or listen to audiobooks (yet), and I doubt many of Napster's target audience do either.

Maybe if the subscription was a LOT cheaper... say... $2.99 a month, I could see paying for that on TOP of what I would still spend in non-rental music... Of course I wouldn't expect to fill my player up for $2.99 a month, but 10 songs or something, that would be a reasonable deal to be able to listen to what's new without committing to buying it.

Written on February 5, 2005