Imagine my excitement when Mr. D. brought me the Living section of the newspaper yesterday morning, proud of the article that he found and wanted to share with me. Under the headline, “Web site offers free legal downloads”, it enticed my ever observant husband to read the article and encourage me to “download as much as you can before they shut it down”. What he didn’t understand, however, were the limitations.
But, let’s back up a minute. First, SpiralFrog is a venture in coordination with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group to offer free downloads legally. My first thought….maybe SOMEBODY is finally getting it. Maybe this was the tipping point to rip the whole thing wide open. Then, I read. Then, I went to the SpiralFrog site.
Yeah, Spiral Frog offers downloads for free. However….there’s a catch. Or a few catches.
- You must endure “ads” that basically pay the label for the music.
- It’s only Universal Catalogue. While 800,000 songs might sound like alot, it’s not.
- You have to register on the site, specifically providing your email address.
- You have to download software to facilitate the SpiralFrog downloading.
- SpiralFrog downloads are not compatible with iTunes, so you cannot import to your iTunes Library.
- You cannot burn downloads to a CD.
- You can only sync to an alternative device twice.
- If you don’t log in to SpiralFrog and “do” something within 30 days, your previous downloads lock up and can’t be played.
- It isn’t compatible with Firefox. Internet Explorer only.
- The name SpiralFrog is comprised of some of the most difficult letters on the keyboard to type resulting in wrong url links.
Um, excuse me, but exactly why is this “revolutionary”? It’s not. It’s simply a record label’s attempt to subsidize some income through advertisers for the money they are hemorrhaging from the lack of customers buying their expensive CDs.
I cannot see how this model will be successful. It is so restrictive and counter-intuitive that it borders ludicrous — and not the rapper. When I went to the site, it was excruciatingly slow, hard to navigate and the choice of music, woefully inadequate. I just don’t understand why somebody doesn’t “get it”. How some rich, powerful artists don’t band together to change the paradigm instead of jumping off the cliff with the rest of the lemmings is just beyond me. If only I had real musical talent.
Forgive me if I have trouble understanding why savvy internet users who are currently downloading free or nearly free music with ease at other sites are going to switch over to a site that’s overly restrictive and cumbersome, at best, to use. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. It’s not understanding the market. I’ll give Universal some props for at least looking at changing the dinosaur paradigm of expensive physical CDs. But, in their attempt to protect a semblance of a revenue stream, they swung and missed.
So, you want to know, “What DO you want, Music Maven?” Well, here’s what I think is salable and could produce some kind of revenue stream for THE ARTIST. Subscription to DMA-free music, compatible with iTunes or any other format for a base price per month. Um, sort of like eMusic.com. I can get 30 downloads per month for $9.95, 50 songs for $14.99 or 75 downloads for $19.99. In today’s world of the Netflix model and cellphone plan mentality, it’s a no-brainer. Then, music proliferates through the masses, people flock to live shows and a rising tide raises all boats.
If musical artists, past and present, provide their music in this kind of pricing model, people who may have NEVER heard or purchased their music are exposed to it and at least they’re selling something. It’s a basic volume pricing model. The days of people buying an entire CD for $14.95 for 10 tracks are gone….and, it’s a brave, new world.
Artists are in the driver’s seat. They just need to give themselves permission to change the world. In the meantime, I predict that SpiralFrog will die a slow and painful death.
ETA: Right on cue from the Libra Dragon hot line, I get this email from Amazon today:
Dear Amazon Customer,
As someone who has recently shopped for music from Amazon.com, you might be interested in learning how you can make that music portable. Many customers have already discovered that one cheap way to get copy-protection-free MP3s is to buy them on CD and rip them themselves. Luckily, the Amazon Music Store offers everyday low prices on many terrific CDs to help you stock your portable player. For those who haven’t yet dabbled in ripping CDs, we’ve created this handy ripping guide that takes you through it. It’s easy, and if you own a portable music player it’s a legal, cost-effective way to fill it up. Take a look at some of our fabulous deals and start building up that collection of “pre-backed-up MP3s” today.
So, how stupid am I? I’m going to buy “ripping” software from you and purchase expensive CDs that I might only want two or three tracks of off and think I’ve just hit the jackpot? UGH! I’m telling you, you can make a living selling just about anything in this country….
Also, I don’t think that the CD labels and artists think it’s “legal” to rip CDs to strip away the DRM. Isn’t Amazon supposed to be helping to protect the artist? Yeah, right.