I’ve been saying this for over a year: digital music is priced WAY too high for it to be either anything close to a good deal, or for it to be appealing vs the price of FREE (not really free – it costs time, the expense of the computer, broadband, but it FEELS like free) with the file sharing services. Cold, calculating, hard-nosed, conservative BusinessWeek agrees:
- After the pilot program ended, Rhapsody lowered its price to 79 cents per download in May. But the service would like the price to go lower. “The music companies have dropped the restrictions on what you can do with the song, and they offer greater flexibility with what you can do with it,” says Rhapsody spokesman Matt Graves. “Now, all they have to do is drop the price.”
The big record labels deserve credit for finally pulling their heads out of the sand after years of pretending that file-sharing services would disappear. But they need to go one step further. The harsh reality of the Internet Age is that the industry will forevermore be competing against free, pirated music. If it doesn’t slice digital prices to around 50 cents, the market will likely never go mainstream.
….Indeed, file-sharing continues to grow despite the industry’s litigation blitz against downloaders, some as young as 12. During the week of Sept. 11, 4.5 million users on average were on file-sharing services on the FastTrack network such as KaZaA, according to Big Champagne, a file-sharing research service based in Beverly Hills, Calif. That was up from 3.4 million users in late August, right before the industry started suing consumers.
Seems to me the recording industry is facing an important choice: It can ensure the future of the business by helping to create a thriving online-music revenue-generator. Or it can continue to sue downloaders one by one and keep prices higher than what is needed to jump-start the retail digital-music industry. What’s it gonna be, guys?