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If P2P Companies Advertised Like Napster...
February 8, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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Napster has spent a considerable amount of money to promoting its new service called “Napster to Go.” For a whopping 30 million dollars, Napster has heavily promoted the new service, as witnessed by those watching the television or surfing the Internet. Super Bowl fans got their first glimpse of this service that tries to convey Napster’s value over rival iTunes.

This is how “Napster to Go” works. For $14.95 a month, an individual can download an unlimited amount of music tracks. The music is then transferable to a choice of three portable music players; the iRiver, Creative Zen Micro or the Dell Pocket DJ. But here is the catch. In order to qualify for Napster to Go, you must already be a subscriber to Napster – an additional $9.95 a month.

Ok, so $24.90 a month is not so bad, at least one can download an unlimited amount of music to keep right? Not so fast…

An interesting quirk regarding Napster to Go is that an individual must maintain their subscription with Napster. Every thirty days or less, the individual must plug their “compatible” player into their computer; allow it to link up with Napster’s server, which gives the DRM tracks an additional 30 days of life. Don’t maintain your Napster subscription? *Poof* - your 14.95 dollar downloads are gone with the wind.

Yet Napster is pushing “Napster to Go” like fanboys push a bad P2P application. For 30 million dollars, the airwaves have been filled with relentless Napster ads aimed at taking a bite out of iTunes 70% lock on the subscription music market. Napster has managed to consume approximately 11% - and Napster is in second place. iTunes' advantage is two fold. One, it heavily appeals to Mac users who do no have significant free P2P choices. Second, iTunes is designed to work with (but only with) the very popular and stylish iPod portable music player. Either way, Napster needs to find a solution to their growing problem.

Whether Napster is simply picking at straws or fishing the market to see how (or if) the public will react remains to be seen.

Napster’s strategy attempts to convey value over iTunes. They even came up with a nifty mathematical formula for consumers in the market for an iPod and its big brother iTunes. According to Napster, if you somehow manage download 10,000 songs – you are in the hole for $10,000. Below is Napster’s dunce cap enhanced guide for the indecisive subscription service connoisseur.



A seasoned file-trader may look at this formula for music industry successes and question one thing – how does file-sharing come into play in all of this? What about my right to choose what portable music player I want to use? While no file-sharing company has 30 million dollars to blow on prime time advertising, certainly P2P United could organize a similar strategy. Perhaps a couple minutes during amateur golf?

Unfortunately, this probably will never happen. The P2P companies that do have money are more interested in striking a deal with the RIAA and/or MPAA – or are strapped down in litigation. Secondly, the legal ramifications of launching an advertising campaign to rival Napster could be taken by the courts as an effort to undermine the development of “legitimate” music sources. But we can dream, can’t we?

And why not…Why should Napster and other music subscription services monopolize all of our Television stations and interfere with our web surfing (FireFox users disregard.) Well if I were a P2P developer with money to blow, things would be a lot different.

The first thing I would do, is research all the times and slots that Napster’s campaign appears on the television. This should not be too difficult since it is fairly obvious most of Napster’s advertising takes place on the major networks, along with MTV and VH1. Then we would need an advertisement to convey a similar message as Napster, however one that favors file-sharing. Since our company believes in sharing files, I propose this advertisement.



Optimally, one would wait until a favorable United States Supreme Court decision to launch such an advertising campaign. Otherwise I would be out of my 30 million fairly quick. Without fear of retribution, P2P developers could freely fill the airwaves with advertising (perhaps a bit less blatant) to counter Napster’s subscription service. However, the message would stay the same – content, portability, freedom of choice and ownership of music. Napster to Go is nothing more than a cheap rental service that tries to capitalize on the illusion of value while really offering little in return.

At least iTunes allows you to keep your music.


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Authorized Music Store :: Napster

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