BT online music service fails whistle test

Rattle and ho-hum

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Analysis British Telecom's Dotmusic on Demand (DoD) digital music subscription service, launched in London yesterday, isn't likely to persuade users of free services like Kazaa and Grokster that it's time to go legal just yet.

And it's not going to convince music buyers that online is a better value medium than CD either.

Part of BT's Dotmusic.com site, DoD offers two tiers of monthly subscription: a £4.99 ($8) service providing limited downloads and audio streams, and a £9.99 service offering - for the first time in Europe - unlimited streams and downloads and limited CD burning.

Downloads are limited to Windows Media Player format encoded at 128Kbps. Streams operate at a poor 32Kbps. Linux and the Mac OS are not supported.

Make that 'very limited'. Subscribers can burn ten tracks a month for free - further songs cost between 99 pence and £1.49 - but not if the artists they like belong to the EMI label. EMI has granted listening and download rights, but not burning privileges.

And if you're keen on Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, or any of Sony's roster, you'll be out of luck altogether. OD2 (aka On Demand Distribution), the music distributor whose service DoD is essentially reselling, has no distribution arrangement with Sony.

Of course, DoD offers "exclusive content", interactive charts, the guarantee that the track you're downloading is indeed what it purports to be and tracks that are easy to find - all attractive qualities - but it's still a costly way to build up a music collection that extends beyond a PC.

An admittedly unscientific sample of people we asked almost all said they prefer listening to music on CD. Not everyone wants to boot up a PC just to listen to music - they want to listen in comfort, or while they're in the car. Even folks who download music almost always burn songs onto CD for maximum listening flexibility.

That immediately makes DoD less attractive than the word 'unlimited' suggests. Equally, 155,000 tracks from over 6,500 artists may sound good, but there are plenty of names missing from the list, not all of them Sony artists. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Nirvana to name but three are missing from the catalog.

Neither Dire Straits nor Celine Dion - two artists singled out by speakers at yesterday's launch - appear in DoD's collection of songs!

Of course, for BT, it's all just an excuse to encourage users to upgrade to its broadband service, but for OD2 these issues are more important. Company executive Ed Averdieck was unwilling to give any indication of how many users the company has throughout Europe other than "a significant number", whatever that means.

That's not to say BT and OD2 can't make a business out of DoD. We're sure some music lovers will appreciate the opportunity it offers to build up a large PC-based music collection. It's just that we're not convinced that many will pay £120 a year to do so - you can buy ten CDs for that.

CDs are arguably overpriced, but at least there's some manufacturing cost there. OD2 has a set-up cost too, but across each track it's much smaller than the cost of punching out a disc. Why then do OD2's songs effectively cost more than their CD equivalents?

"The price can and will come down," predicted British Phonographic Industry (BPI) chief Peter Jamieson. Maybe, but it's going to have to do so soon if fans are to be convinced this is a better way to get music than rival offerings and media. ®

Related Story

Apple gears up to sell music online

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex–Apple CEO John Sculley: Ousting Steve Jobs 'was a mistake'
Twenty-nine years later, post-Pepsi exec has flat-forehead moment
Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing
China and Japan holdings worth more than entire company
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
prev story


Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.