New version of service will allow burning for a fee:
- The company will charge consumers 99 cents per song, which means a full album of songs will cost only a few dollars less than the retail price. However, the deals are a sign that the major music labels are increasingly loosening their licensing policies for digital music.
Several other companies, including major label-backed Pressplay and independent Full Audio, also have won limited rights to let consumers burn CDs from music acquired through paid subscription services. While none of the offers exactly match consumers' desires for complete, unrestricted rights to music, it's a critical step forward, analysts say.
"CD burning is very important," said P.J. McNealy, research director with GartnerG2, a division of Gartner. "This is portability, and that's what consumers want."
Listen's Rhapsody service, along with Pressplay, MusicNet and Full Audio, all are scrambling to build businesses based around access to a huge range of music for a relatively low monthly fee. Music labels' reluctance to give up digital rights has hampered all of the services' growth, however.
Since their inception, the companies have labored under a comparison with file-swapping networks such as Kazaa or Grokster. Songs downloaded through those free services can be easily transferred to MP3 players or burned onto CDs. The subscription services have smaller catalogs, have limited ability to move songs to other devices, and most of all, cost between $10 and $15 per month. They are unambiguously legal, however--while many other file-swapping services struggle with copyright issues.
The price of 99 cents persong is still ridiculous - how about 9 cents per song - but at least they have entered the stream.