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MusicNet & Pressplay fall short
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: Mi2N - December 12, 2001

Merely renting music is likely to be as successful as DIVX was for Circuit City - fine on paper, but nobody came. That's the conclusion drawn from a digital entertainment survey which reveals that post-Napster, online music is still, "baffling to the Big Five music labels."

It's clear that there's a real need for a legal and inexpensive way for consumers to dl music and to be able to use it the way they do now - "freely copyable to their portable devices," said Watson-Research's president Oromond Stacker in a study, continuing, "Unfortunately, the three strikes against the current incarnations of MusicNet and Pressplay will further prejudice the market against online subscription music services."

Stacker said the major objections raised during his company's interviews were clustered within specific complaints:

1 - Music is only for rent and only for 30 days;
2 - 100 songs streamed and another 100 downloaded isn't enough for the $9.95 monthly subscription; and
3 - "Outrage" that it's really a rental and not a subscription.

"MusicNet offers a limited catalog: Enough said," Stacker went on. "MusicNet represents three of the 'Big Five' - Bertlesmann's BMG, AOL Time Warner Music and EMI. Its putative rival, Pressplay, to be launched later this month, represents the other two, Universal Music and Sony Music. Microsoft's Windows Media will be Pressplay's player, so no convergence likely here and at least two subscriptions will be required.

"Lack of Portability: The ability to listen to music on devices other than the computer is a given for a successful service. Many respondents cited portability to the increasingly popular MP3 players as a pre-requisite for even evaluating a subscription service."

He added that the Big Five Music Labels seem to be, "arrogantly laying down the 'rules' for online music services as if they feel they don't need to respond to consumers' actual needs. Our research strongly suggests that this is, at best, naive.

"There is the potential for enormous revenues and profits from monetizing online music services. If a fraction of the resource that had been put behind the gala unveiling of RealOne at Le Parker Meridien had been put into quality market research and acted upon, then services such as MusicNet and Pressplay would stand a much better chance of realizing those profits. Free-music service Morpheus understands the needs of its user-base. Monetizing a Morpheus-like service should be the goal."

Related News from Mi2N:
» Watson-Research Study Finds Big Five Music Labels Continue To Ignore Consumers' Online-Music Needs

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