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Napster's Brad Duea on the music download market

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 25 Aug 2005 2:18 User comments (3)

Napster's Brad Duea on the music download market The BBC has interviewed Brad Duea, president of online music service Napster. The last couple of years have been very eventful for the music industry which saw litigation against people who share music collections with each other, falling sales of CDs and the rise of legal music download services and portable music players. However, it's not like it is all easy for consumers either, who have to be bombarded with new ways of buying music and new ways of using it (DRM restrictions etc.).
Napster is a big part of the transformation the music industry is under. How could anybody forget the trouble the original Napster caused when the music industry freaked out at the thought of a "music free for all" and hit the service with all they had. Now the new legal Napster has 410,000 subscribers who hand over subscription fees for access to over 1.5 million songs, a sort of music rental service.

"The number one brand attribute at the time Napster was shut down was innovation. The second highest characteristic was actually 'free'." Mr Duea said. "The difference now is that the number one attribute is still innovation. Free is now way down on the list." Roxio, which originally made burning software bought Napster and created the service available today. The music market is now worth a whopping $33bn a year. In the first half of 2005, downloads from legal online music stores accounted for 5% of all music sales.

Mr Duea sees the online music industry becoming an "exploding multi-billion dollar space in the next two years". With CD sales either failing to rise or falling, it is expected that sometime in the near future digital sales could take over physical sales, but Mr Duea pointed out that it is already happening for thousands of people who have left CDs behind. "Many people have moved beyond buying plastic at retail and have moved to digital only already," he says. "People are able to search for more music than was ever possible at retail, even in the largest megastore."

He also repeated what has been one of the most complaints from many music buyers over the past few years, that new albums don't live up to expectations and might only contain a few good songs. "If you are a subscriber you can listen to the latest CDs and never again be caught buying a bad CD which has one hit song and all the rest are crap." he said. "The consumer got caught buying CDs which only had one good song. Now what it will move to is rewarding those artists that put out great music that people listen to."

Apple's iTunes is by far the biggest success story so far in the music download market, but the store has no subscribers and just sells music as either a single track download or a full album download. Of course Mr Duea is quick to attack iTunes. He said that Steve Jobs has tricked people into a hardware trap as iTunes music downloads are only compatible with Apple's iPod and no other MP3 player yet. iPods also cannot play copy protected songs from other music download stores, but do support any MP3s.

Napster's subscription service has been the victim of criticism since it launched because users do not actually own music that they download, they simply "rent" it and as soon as the subscription fees stop going to Napster, the music magically disappears. "A lot of time people think of ownership as this ultimate thing with music. Has owning cassettes in the past really benefited people? In many cases they have had to repurchase music in a new format." Mr Duea said. "I do not think the argument about ownership is such a wonderful thing. What do you really want as a music fan? It's to access music and listening to music." However, many still believe that if you fork out some money for music, you should be left owning "something".

Source:
BBC News

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3 user comments

125.8.2005 15:14

Quote:
"A lot of time people think of ownership as this ultimate thing with music. Has owning cassettes in the past really benefited people? In many cases they have had to repurchase music in a new format." Mr Duea said. "I do not think the argument about ownership is such a wonderful thing. What do you really want as a music fan? It's to access music and listening to music." However, many still believe that if you fork out some money for music, you should be left owning "something".
What's so ridiculous about "forking over" money so that you can own something? Last time I checked, many people still owned items they purchased. What if, for some reason, someone can't afford to subscribe to Napster after subscribing for a year? They're left high and dry. All their money is gone, and so is all their music.

226.8.2005 18:14

I've never understood much about music downloading. Especially when you have to purchase it as with Napster. So if you have a subscription to Napster, you can only store the songs on your computer and then they just disappear if the subscription expires? You can't burn the songs to CD? I don't see the point in purchasing any music at all anymore if you can't do whatever you want with it as long as it's for your own personal use.

326.8.2005 18:22

fishbulb, the point is more money for their pockets

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