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Old Jul 23, 2003, 09:27 AM   #1
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PC owners got an Internet music download site on Tuesday tha...


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Link: PC owners got an Internet music download site on Tuesday that offers songs a la carte for as little as 79 cents but carries many of the restrictions that have stymied rival services.

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Old Jul 23, 2003, 10:05 AM   #2
zamyatin
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Likely to Fail

The buymusic service has DRM that seems just a bit too strict for market acceptance. Further, it uses WMP 9 instead of MP3 or MP4, which I believe is a fatal flaw. Of course, wintel users will see "300,000 songs" and say to themselves, "that is more than 200,000; it must be better." But when they learn it won't work with the iPod and other MP3 players, it will begin to decline and perhaps eventually collapse.

One more thing - the CEO of Buy.com says that Apple is missing "97% of the market" by not having a wintel version. Since no one will be purchasing music on work machines, the relevant market is the home consumer market, which I heard is about 20% Mac, leaving about 75% for windows. This is a significant difference.
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Old Jul 23, 2003, 01:56 PM   #3
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Associated Press

That's not an opinion piece, it's the AP news article. But it IS fairly critical of BuyMusic.com.

BM.com sounds like it could bomb badly, unless they really fool a lot of people. The problems with BM, compared to the freedom of iTunes Music Store, include:

* Non-transferrable licenses. Downloaded files WILL NOT PLAY once you retire the PC you bought the tracks on.

* Can't burn all songs to CD (but I've seen no examples to prove this). Other songs have a limited number of burns, such as 3.

* Can't use all songs on portable players (but I've seen no examples to prove this). Other songs can only be transferred to a player a limited number of times.

* Can't use all brands of portable player. No iPod, no Archos players, nothing that doesn't support WMA with WMP9's DRM. (Some major brands do.)

* Can't transfer songs to your other computers. You can separately download, from scratch, a "secondary" version of some songs on a limited number (such as 3) of other computers. Secondary licenses can't burn CDs or use portable players at all. When those computers are retired, you can't use the secondary licenses anymore.

* Price. Songs start at .79 (not .70 as some publications reported), popular ones tend to be .99, and they cost up to $1.99 or more each. Albums start at $7.95--more than iTunes' cheapest--and range to $14.99 or more. More, in some cases, than Buy.com themselves charges for the actual CD.

* Despite the site name, you do NOT buy the music. You "sublicense" it. Their own fine print says that you do not "buy" or "own" what you have paid for. This is little different from past rental/subscription failures--but minus their monthly fee.

* Can't preview every song.

* The restrictions on burning CDs, "secondary" computers, and using on portable players vary from song to song. Complex rules about different types of licenses ("primary" vs. "secondary"). Confusion rather than consistency.

* Tied completely to Microsoft (.net, Explorer/ActiveX, and WMP 9) and to the greed of the RIAA. Even on Windows, browsers other than Explorer are locked out.

* Slower, awkward store interface and multi-step technical process, compared to iTunes' complete simplicity and fast searching/instant re-sorting. BuyMusic needs complex how-to videos while iMS just works and is integrated into the jukebox.

* Can't download a whole album automatically. You must get the songs individually. (Bad for users and artists alike.)

* If you buy multiple songs at once, you must wait for each to finish downloading and then manually click to download the next.

* Cover art is not included with the songs. (Windows Media Player is able to locate art online, though, as a separate step.)

* Your current media player (like WinAmp) where all your ripped CDs are, will not play BM.com downloads--not even if your player supports WMA. It must support the DRM too (WinAmp doesn't, causing problems if it's set to be the app used with .wma files.) So... you can ONLY play your tunes from Windows Media Player 9. No making playlists that combine those songs with your CDs. No transferring them to your player in one step along with your CDs. No shuffle-playing your WinAmp collection and your BM downloads.

* Many songs on the site are "Not available for sale." Whatever that means.

* Supposedly BM.com's parent company tends to spam customers heavily.

* Lastly... no Mac (or Linux or other UNIX) support. Not even if you copy the WMA files to WMP for OS X.

iTunes Music Store with AAC/FairPlay suffers from none of those issues... although it's not (yet) on Windows, and is not expected for Linux. And iTunes is completely integrated with the portable player that has half the market. BM.com has no such elegant hardware tie-in.

And will independent labels be jumping on board like they are doing with Apple? I have my doubts.
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Old Jul 24, 2003, 09:54 PM   #4
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Not to mention the fact that they reserve the right to sell your personal information to third parties. It's been noted by several others already that it is a very bad service, as is Buy.com, with little to no customer service.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again... doomed to failure.
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Old Jul 24, 2003, 10:05 PM   #5
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Certainly BuyMisic has a ton of serious problems, as illustrated above. But I think the most serious is advertising songs for 79 cents, and then selling most songs for 99 cents and above. People don't like to be lied to (even windows users). Consumers are sophisticated enough to recognize the 'bait and switch.' A bad way to launch a business.
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