Grainger David writes:
- So what’s with all the savior talk? Forrester predicts that after one more year of depressing sales, labels will supply more content on the cheap; the story goes that by 2007 this will create a downloading wave of tsunamic proportions that will wash all this additional money onto the music industry.
One indication that it is starting to happen is last month’s launch of Pressplay 2.0, a joint venture between Sony and Universal. The updated service offers downloads at lower prices and allows more freedom. (For 99 cents a pop, plus a monthly download fee, you can store a file wherever you’d like.)
That’s a good deal, but–wait! check your calculator!–it’s not free. And since Pressplay’s catalog doesn’t yet include BMG or Warner (owned by AOL Time Warner, parent of FORTUNE’s publisher), both of which operate MusicNet, you won’t find everything you’re looking for either. That yawn is 70 million users of Kazaa, Grokster, and Morpheus not caring.
But they should. The record companies have come a long way since Napster. Says Larry Kenswil, president of Universal Music’s eLabs division: “Things are ready to go now much more than they were a year or two ago.” He expects that Pressplay will offer music from all the major labels by year-end, and MusicNet will likely follow suit.
Even if the new wave of services are perfect, will people pay at all? Some analysts think the price needs to drop to 25 cents to draw significant traffic. But if even a portion of downloaders cough up that much, suddenly the music business doesn’t look so bleak.