AfterDawn: Tech news

Universal and Sony to offer cheap legal music downloads

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 13 Jun 2002 10:41 User comments (3)

Two of the world's biggest record labels, Japanese Sony and French Vivendi Universal, are about to offer an alternative that music freaks have begged for a long time.
Two companies have finally understood, at least slightly, that they simply must offer a cheap and flexible alternative to P2P tools if they wish to fight Net piracy at all. Universal has announced that it has plans to launch a service in this summer which would offer single music tracks for download for $0.99 each and albums for $9.99 each.

Tracks will be sold through retailers like Amazon and Best Buy and according to Universal, certain tracks and albums will be released on the Net before they become available in CD format.

But definately the most encouraging fact is that the tracks will be in high quality and that Universal will allow users to burn the tracks to CD -- a practice that all the record labels have so far banned.

Sony has also announced that it will offer much more tracks for download and that those tracks can also be burned to CDs and that they will drop the price of one download to $1.49.

This is definately good news, it sounds like the companies have finally understood at least something how people want to get their music -- without stupid restrictions like banning the CD burning. Only problem is still the price; is $0.99 a pop low enough. But at least those -- and I know that there are many of those -- who want to get their music legally, can do so.

Universal's tracks will be delivered in LiquidAudio's format which has relatively wide support among MP3 software players.

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3 user comments

114.6.2002 5:15

It's been a while since I bothered with it, and maybe Liquid Audio has improved in quality over the interim, but I was never very impressed with the few sample tracks I downloaded. Now that L.A. has been purchased lock, stock & barell (your other news update), let's hope the new owners do something useful with it. Core to it's success, I would imagine, would be the all-important ability to burn to music cd. This assumes standard red-book compatability. IF that's the case, AND they offer a few, free promos so that potential customers can judge the quality for themselves, AND the selection of music is relatively decent, well............ (It might fly.) -- K.A. --

214.6.2002 5:27

Regarding the prices... When I first read the article and saw Universal's price of 0.99, I thought "Hey, that's not bad, I can live with that". Then I saw Sony's price of 1.49, and thought "well, that's a little high". What would my reaction to Sony's price have been if I hadn't seen Universal's 0.99 price first? I don't know, but I feel like the mental price breakpoint is $1.00. With a cheap enough price, I can envision myself going down a list of songs and checking off a whole bunch for download, like I do now when browsing with P2P software. If the price is too high (and I feel 1.49 is), I'm going to be choosey about what I buy, and maybe only buy 1 or 2 songs at a time, or only buy that specific song I'm looking for at the moment. Just my 2 cents (or 0.99) worth. - Bob

315.6.2002 1:31

I know what you mean Bob. I'm from Canada, so I have to do some mental math on exchange rates when I see these quoted prices. Our dollar is at an all-time low when compared to the US dollar, so yes, you bet, $1.49 US for a single track (a little over $2 Canadian?) is too much. And before I gave out my credit card number, I would want to be certain of at least two things: 1. The selection was decent. I mean, *really* decent, not restricted to mostly unknowns. 2. The quality of reproduction of the music files was *damned* good. In my (limited) experience, Liquid Audio was 'nothing to write home about'. If you can freely burn these tracks to cdr without restriction, then that's half the battle, because at least if the files can be burned as standard *red-book music files* (NOT as Liquid Audio files), you can then at least rip them in the usual way and convert to any format you wish. (Although you'd probably lose a lot in the conversion process.) No matter what you download, you just *know* it's not going to be up to regular cd standards (16-bit, 44.1kHz PCM stereo), so yes, be careful what you shell out for each track. Just my 99c($1.65 Canadian) worth. -- A_Klingon --

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