Thursday, March 17, 2005

'Napster To Go' Is Not Going Anywhere

Napster's launch of a new music-download service, called "Napster To Go," is being touted today in the Wall Street Journal as "a completely different model for buying and playing music."

Napster's "new model" is indeed completely different from Apple's 99c download model: instead of charging per song, the Napster user "rents" all the songs they want, as long as they pay a $14.95 monthly fee. When they stop paying the rent, they stop getting access to the songs.

States the Journal, this is "a model that Apple can't match today."

Unforunately for Napster, Apple has no need to "match" the "Napter To Go" model, because Napster To Go will not ever, in my opinion, go anywhere.

But don't take my word.

Go to a college campus. Ask a random student how many songs they have on their iPod. The student will probably say something between 200 and 2,000. I am not making this up. Students take their music seriously.

Then ask how many of those songs have been purchased from iTunes. They will smile, wrinkle their brow, look up at the ceiling and ponder this, and then probably say something like maybe 1%.

Yes, 1%. Not half, not a quarter, not even 10%. Kids do not download music from iTunes for 99c a pop. They burn compact discs already in their collection, they burn friends' cds, they swap files.

So this notion that an online rental service for music is far more cost-effective for the average iPod user than iTunes itself, is hokum.

Kids wanted their MTV, and they want their iPods, and they are not going to pay $14.95 a month or $14.95 a year, for that matter, to rent something they can download for free.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up.

In memory of Henry M. Matthews, February 26, 1926-March 17, 2005.

3 comments:

John Norton said...

Hah, man, that's the truth. I find it hard to pay $15 to OWN music much less rent it.

The Sandman said...

Agree. The big music boys lost the plot years ago when they should have hit back at the first Napster by going down the iTunes path with a vengence. They didn't, and then decided to sue Kazaa and Co. When the P2P guys moved smartly offshore, the major music lables went after their own potential cleints by taking the students to court! How dumb can you get?

Now Napster II has gone mainstream (and one suspects other major music labels will try to jump on this renting lark) they want us to pay for this on a monthly basis? Please! Someone should tell them to get real....

Barry Ritholtz said...

Yes, but thats as of NOW. Students have an existing trove of CDs dating back a decade, and ITMS has been around for not even ~2 years.

Ask the same question 10 years from now. What do you think the answer will be? Plenty of people find it easier to merely pony up a buck for a song . . .

As to Napster, what happens to them if/when Apple rolls out a similar Buffet style for $20/mo?