The Qtrax Announcement: Here We Go Again

There’s no wonder that the story sounded plausible, given Steve Jobs’ announcement that he’d been able to ink deals with the movie studios that are part of the same media conglomerates that own the music labels, including NBC Universal, whose CEO said he saw no disconnect between yanking TV shows from iTunes Store but allowing movies to be rented on the same store. The story even added a bit of confusion, first by saying that the files couldn’t be played on an iPod until an "iPod solution" was offered in April, and then changing the story to say that they could be played on an iPod.The Times went on to note that Klepfisz had stated "the ink hadn't dried" on all the agreements. But today, January 29, stories are still being newly posted on legitimate websites touting the original story. CNBC’s website posted one with the tile "Music Industry Ready To ‘Give Away’ The Songs?" and followed the script of Qtrax’s initial press release.

Which leads us around to another announcement. CBS has announced that Last.fm is morphing into a subscription service, yet another business model being tried over again. Without a subscription, users can stream any of the site's 3.5 million songs and listen to them up to three times per song, which seems a viable "test drive" period for any particular song. After that, a monthly subscription allows a user to listen to songs as many times as they want during the subscription period. Songs can’t be downloaded to an iPod, and they can’t be played after the subscription period (except for songs played less than three times).

"Pay-per-song a la iTunes seems like old news," one mainstream journalist said, echoing the sentiment that the mainstream industry is cheering on the free, possibly ad-supported, music and video trend that consumers seem to have taken to heart.

Which leads to a final model: buy and download. Amazon announced this week that its online music store, which allows purchase and downloading of DRM-free MP3 files, is going global.

"We have received thousands of emails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the U.S.," Bill Carr, Amazon's vice president of digital music, said in a statement. "We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year."

So the more things change, the more they stay the same. Watch for similar announcements of all three business models in video over the next few weeks.

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues