May 26, 2005
A couple weeks ago, Yahoo! announced “Yahoo! Music Unlimited”.
That day, stock prices for Napster and Real Networks were sent tumbling, 20 to 30%. Apple also took at small hit on the market. Presumably, Wall Street thought that Yahoo’s extremely low price was going to impact the other players.
Apple’s iTunes is still the big boy on the block, thanks to Mad Dog Steve Jobs. Napster thought they had the answer with unlimited music downloads for $15 per month (remember their launch with the crappy Super Bowl ads?). Napster’s idea was to get people to pay $15/month and they would have access to any of the music that Napster had. But as soon as you let the subscription expire, all the songs were rendered unplayable. It seemed like a good concept, except a bit pricey.
Along comes internet Gorilla Yahoo with their bottomless pockets. Could they take this concept and make it work at a substantially lower price point? Their offering was access to their music database for $60 per year. Sounds pretty tempting. Other services like Napster say it can’t be sustained and it is just a gimmick. But even if they are losing money, Yahoo can hold out for a long time with all the money they have pouring in.
I have had conversations with several people about the subscription service concept. Personally, I think it works. You pay a monthly fee and get access to Yahoo’s music database from anywhere you can access the inter-web (shout-out to Principal Scudworth). Granted, you don’t actually OWN the music, you are simply renting it. But you can keep it on your hard drive and load them on your MP3 player. What else would you want to do with them? If you insist on actually owning the rights to the song, you pay $.79 for it. Not bad.
For some reason, people get caught up in the “I don’t own it” mentality. But as long as you keep up to date on your Yahoo subscription and update the file licenses each month, there’s nothing to worry about. To me, who buys maybe 5-10 CD’s per year, this type of offering makes sense. For less than what I have been spending on CD’s each year, I can have access to substantially more music. Now, if I let my subscription expire I think I’m screwed. But that’s the price you pay to have unlimited downloads for the price of 4 CD’s.
Am I going to sign up?
Not sure. I am more tempted to give the MyFi from XM Radio a whirl. Unrepentant has one and he loves the little gadget. But for those iPod users…wait…forgot to mention…Yahoo Music Unlimited doesn’t work with iPods…HA!. But for those MP3 players that have 20 GB drives, the Yahoo service makes perfect sense. A 20 GB library for the price of a dinner for 2.
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