Feeds

Napster has 'nothing' to sell you

Monday nothing, Tuesday nothing, Wednesday and Thursday nothing...

Security for virtualized datacentres

Earlier this month, Napster began a billboard campaign making a virtue of its greatest shortcoming: that you don't get to keep any music. If you rent music from Napster, the music disappears when the relationship ends. If you want your music to last for life, you need a lifetime subscription to Napster.

Several other companies offer similar services. What they're really selling is a proprietary subscription radio service with a little time-shifting, and a little customization. Not a lot of customization because with a choice limited to a mere million songs there are sure to be a lots of tunes you can't hear, that you might want. And not a lot of time-shifting, either. But at the end of the day, you still have nothing to show for it.

Here's how Napster is selling it, with this very striking poster.

Napster: 'Own Nothing - Have Everything'

Napster's new ad campaign

Now what do we do when with things-with-rights-attached cease being physical objects, and copying them becomes as easy as breathing?

Ah, that's easy. Either we find a way of making the digital objects gain the awkwardness of physical matter - so copying them is a nuisance - or we find another way of paying for them.

Napster's experiment takes the first route, replicating physical nuisance in digital form, thanks to the magic of DRM. But it's also a subtle attempt to persuade us that there never was a physical form in the first place. A slightly creepy experience.

There is a third choice, which is that physical objects gain a new lease of life, which is precisely what's happening at the moment: the CD, so recently marked for imminent death, looks set to continue for a long time to come.

What also makes this campaign peculiar is that it makes the act of acquisition the real thrill. Anyone old enough to remember taking home a precious seven-inch single, fit to burst with anticipation, will know that acquisition can indeed be an experience that never leaves you. The banality of the digital world guarantees we that we lose this. But there's also another kind of acquisition that digital media encourages which is more akin to collecting. Readers have remarked before how some digital technology mavens merely acquire, and never seem to listen to what they hoard. In the physical world, record collectors and cataloguers were the exception, but now they're everywhere!

Digital Schmigital.

Another odd thought is that it's using the language of Marx to describe this rum deal, where you get less for more inconvenience and money. But Marx it was who famously said, "everything solid melts into air" ... the most appropriate way of thinking about this evaporation of value.

What do you make of it? ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
French 'terror law' declares WAR on the INTERNET itself, say digi-rights folks
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Two out of three ain't bad
SCREW YOU, EU: BBC rolls out Right To Remember as Google deletes links
Not even Google can withstand the power of Auntie
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.