Feeds

Old Napster guy’s fan letter to Spotify upstart

'Grasshopper. You are almost as cool as I once was'

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Lessons Not Learned

What makes the analysis such interesting reading is how rarely we have heard such an approach from the music industry. Parker was looking to build a great music consumption product first: the goal was satisfying punters. He did so by doing an end run around the copyright-holders. But the rights-holders in the music industry have been wary of each other, and wary of experimentation.

It's something Hollywood has learned from by designing UltraViolet. Instead of revenue protection as the primary motivation, UV sets out to reward you for joining, adding a lot of conveniences over today's world of plastic discs and expiring time-limited streams. UV sells you a licence.

To be fair, not everybody in the music industry wanted to close Napster down. Bertelsmann, famously, made an investment in the startup. Others were supportive, too. The US mechanical rights collecting society the Harry Fox Agency, and British and international independent record labels, also announced a licensing agreement with the startup. But the heavyweights won the day. Plastic disc sales had brought growth to the music industry; CD sales were to peak in 1999.

And Napster itself tried to turn itself into a subscription service – a tale fascinatingly told by Chris Castle, an attorney for the company at the time.

I’d disagree on one aspect of Parker's excellent analysis.

Spotify doesn’t "allow" person-to-person file sharing, even though, technically that’s exactly what it’s doing under the hood: moving a song file from one person to another across a network. Spotify uses P2P to save on bandwidth; if a song is on the same network, it pulls it down directly from a swarm, rather than from a central catalogue. Spotify simply keeps these song files in an encrypted DRM container.

We’re constantly told now that “ownership doesn’t matter”, and Spotify charges extra to untangle the inconvenience introduced by its DRM.

Some people don’t mind this at all, but I’m not convinced.

Spotify is terrific for many of the reasons Parker suggests, but converting our enthusiasm for music into cash by allowing leakage from this container really ought to be explored. It’s still an opportunity going begging. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.