Feeds

Nokia: Keep the music, pay to burn

Reinventing the bundle?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Analysis You could be forgiven for thinking that Nokia's music announcement yesterday was yet another subscription service. The phone giant didn't help dispel the notion by omitting some details from the official press material. However, we were able to put more flesh on the bones of the announcement last night. It's beginning to look as if Nokia's move, blessed by the world's biggest and most aggressive record company, represents a radical new direction for the music business.

Essentially, the deal bundles digital music for "free" with a Nokia phone. You can acquire unlimited songs for a year through the Nokia Music Store, then keep the music you've acquired if you don't want to continue the deal. You'll be able to play the songs on a PC (alas, not a Mac or Linux) and your Nokia.

By contrast, most music subscription services on offer today time-bomb the music, so that when you leave the service, it dies. That's fine if you think of it as a sort of "cached" on-demand radio, but not as a way of acquiring a permanent collection; it's proved unacceptable to consumers, who are used to keeping the music they've acquired for life... or until they're burgled, or the house burns down.

In other words, it's a loyalty program for Nokia customers, with music as the bait.

Instead, Nokia conceives of certain usage rights as a value-added extra - including the ability to burn CDs. The thinking is that most people who burn a CD do so for the car, and are prepared to pay. It's a risky strategy, though.

First things first: the music is now "free". At least one corner of the music business appears to have become aware that it's already competing with free unlicensed music - the wild world of Rapidshare, Torrents and blogs - that's ever improving in quality and ubiquity, and that it's unable to stamp out.

As such, the Nokia Music deal compares favourably with the phone carriers' service of choice, Omnifone's Music Station, which offers the "universal jukebox" for a subscription fee, which the network carriers may choose to absorb, or not. With Music Station, your music expires with your subscription.

It also means Universal is blessing a significant rival to its own (as yet unannounced) subscription service, TotalMusic.

One year ago, Universal agreed a controversial $1 per device royalty with Microsoft for its Zune music player. This prompted howls of outrage from anti-copyright campaigners, who claimed it was a tax on music they'd already paid for, and that the tax would distort the market and hamper innovation. Now, the world's most popular consumer electronics device manufacturer (by volume) is voluntarily absorbing the royalties. That's quite a remarkable turnaround.

We pointed out at the time that songwriters and composers might see little of the device royalty at the end of the day - despite Universal's promise to split the pool 50/50. We trust our friends at ASCAP and the MCPS-PRS Alliance will be ensuring that publishing royalties aren't overlooked.

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
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
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
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.