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? ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.