Kick Out the Jams
Though it takes about a minute to Google up a RapidShare or Torrent link to a new album, music providers still valiantly hope that today’s consumer will pay for music with actual currency. Some, like Yahoo’s Music Unlimited service, which will close later this year, have resigned themselves to their fate. So despite the inherent gamble, phone and Internet provider EMBARQ announced a music service for all those people out there who can’t open a RAR file or haven’t heard of iTunes.
For a monthly $9.95 fee, EMBARQ’s high-speed Internet customers can use an iTunes-esque EMBARQ media player to download any and as many songs as they like from a digital music library. The library, powered by MediaNet Digital, offers about 3 million songs from big guns like Sony, EMI and Warner as well as thousands of independent labels.
Synacor, an Internet tools and portals provider, branded the product for EMBARQ — as well as fellow ISPs RCN, Roadrunner, and Wide Open West. For Ted May, Synacor’s vice president of content, the service offers the benefits of synergy (telephone, Internet and bumpin’ tunes all in one tidy, monthly bill!) and helps make ISPs more than mere Internet hookups. “[EMBARQ Unlimited Music] has broad-based appeal and would carve a place for broadband ISPs as a content service provider,” May says.
But what’s good for ISPs might not be best for certain consumers — according to Sandeep Chellani, Synacor’s director of product, content & services solutions, the program isn’t compatible with iTunes, and the songs are exclusively under the sway of Windows digital rights management. Even more, while consumers can download whatever they want from EMBARQ’s library, they can only access the music for the duration of their subscription. Don’t renew the subscription? Poof goes the music.
DRM squabbles and a lifelong marriage to The Man to listen to that new Mary J. Blige jam you heard the other day at Virgin? Maybe that’s why those RapidShare and Torrent links look like the sweeter grapes on the vine after all.