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Evaluating a System for Selling and Delivering MP3s? 551

Dredd2Kad asks: "I'd really like Slashdot's opinion on this. I recently secured an MP3 distribution deal with an indie record label, and negotiations with other indie labels and artists are in the works. The music will be distributed through my internet radio station's website. As you know, if you can sell music in a format such as MP3 you eliminate the costs of packaging, shipping, handling. You do have to contend with bandwidth charges though. Most indie labels and artists seem happy to pass along the savings to customers and stimulate sales. What I have built is simple and functional. We are trying to add value to the MP3 albums we sell by including quality artwork that can be printed onto CD labels and jewel case inserts (so you aren't just getting a 'bunch of files'). What would make you want to buy music in this way? What types things would turn you away? What are the positives and negatives of selling music in this manner? Do you think this is a viable alternative to someone who doesn't want to pay $10 or $15 for a physical CD? Does the format the music is in or on have an impact on how serious you take it?"
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Evaluating a System for Selling and Delivering MP3s?

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  • Price Point (Score:5, Interesting)

    by felonious ( 636719 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:42AM (#6450960) Journal
    The main problem dogging the Recording industry is price. Price is what the main issue is for most of us. 99 cents or under is a good place to start.
    • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:56AM (#6451029) Homepage Journal

      The problem is people think selling mp3s is a good idea, you have to sell services and INCLUDE mp3s.

      Selling mp3s is like selling webpages, people will not pay on a per site basis, EVER.

      However, people will pay for quality and service, people do subscribe to gaming sites, if you offer it at a cheap $1 a month, or $12 a year, people will subscribe. You also must offer alot of things in the members sections, not just mp3s, but video clips, tourdates, blogs, forums, pictures,interviews, etc. You have to make it into almost an online magazine, you need to build a community, then you charge people to access that community

      You charge the fans to access a SCENE, because to the fan, its all about the scene, just like to the musician its all about the art. Treat it like what it is, art! Do not treat it like product, when you treat it like product and worry about how many sales of mp3s you'll get, you wont sell any.

      I suggest you let a person subscribe to your site, your fans will subscribe, you may only have a few thousand fans, but thats enough. 5000 people paying $12 a year, is decent money, more money than you'd make trying to sell mp3s.
      • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:25AM (#6451141) Homepage

        >5000 people paying $12 a year, is decent money

        That's enough to pay for hosting and bandwidth plus two salaries, if they like eating Ramin noodles 3 meals a day. That's Web Guy, who'll we'll charitably assume does the recording and editing, plus a drummer. You'd better hope that you can find 5000 people that like drum solos.

        • Right, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PhinMak ( 630548 )
          The thing you are forgetting is that once these guys have this web distribution up and running, there is little extra time needed besides the occasional site update or links to new songs. The rest of the time they can spend on advertising/tours/new material/second job. Think of this system as a supplementary income whereas the system is making them money while they are free to do other moneymaking things.
      • 5000 people at 12 USD per year is ONLY 60,000.

        Now lets do the math. Assuming you have hosting costs, Internet transfer costs would run in the order of about 1K per month, which is 12K.

        So now you are left with 48K USD. You need a machine to host, so most likely you will use a providers machine (fail over, etc). That will cost you another 199 USD per month, which is 1200 USD per year.

        Now you are left with 46.8K USD. Next you will probably run your own company and you need to pay health care, and other
      • I completely agree. Just having a Napster-like service where you have to pay a fee per-song will probably not work. I like having all of my songs on a hard drive so I can listen to them while I work, make long playlists, etc. However, I would never pay on a per-song basis because there is no percieved value in one .mp3 file to me.

        On the other hand, if you had a subscription service where somebody could download whatever they wanted for a small monthly or yearly fee (less that $10.00 per month), and incl
  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:42AM (#6450961)
    Might be the option to have cd quality files (different format maybe?), maybe for a slightly higher price.

    Especially if it's something like ambient music, where hearing everything is important.
    • I know yours is a Radio biz, but maybe the possibility to buy pre-printed or burnt-on-demand cds could be a nice side-income...

    • Re:Options (Score:4, Informative)

      by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:53AM (#6451013)
      I guess I am picky sometimes but here goes... 1 - the ability to manage downloads: if the guy loses his connection/ computer hangs/etc when (s)he is downloading and is not able to resume it they will be very p... off Besides, if (s)he has a dial up connection, (s)he will want to download the songs little by little... 2 - Encoding quality. Depending on the kind of music, higher encoding rates (160/192 for MP3)are a must. Example: heavy metal, music with lots of left/right channel division,etc. You may experiment having lower quality samples (32/64 for MP3) for free You may also want to experiment with other formats AAC and OGG are very good even at 128 (almost CD quality) WMA is good but has two problems (IMHO). Closed source (but there are linux players) and quality shifts a lot depending on the kind of music... Another option is to have "golden ears" flac files (more expensive, of course...) Offering the jewel cases is a good idea. I don't think you should charge too much for these (or maybe somthing like: buy the whole CD and you get the picture...)
    • Quality is important!!

      I think the key is to give people choice. I know if I was presented with downloading ONLY 128k MP3's I would probably flag it, no matter how inexpensive. I want to be able to choice my own format (OGG, MP3, whatever) and ALSO at the bitrate I want.

      For me vari-bitrate is where its at. Its a decent compromise on most factors. I cant understand why more people dont use this.
    • Might be the option to have cd quality files

      Agreed. Ideally, I'd like (soon to be Ogg) FLAC and Ogg Vorbis as options, rather than, or perhaps as well as, MP3. I generally prefer to encode my own Oggs, so FLAC would be the ideal starting point. I like the idea of jewel case inlays. Ideally these would be in a neutral vector format like SVG rather than a bitmap, but even just PostScript or PDF would be fine. Oh, and obviously, I'd like my kind of music to be available. The problem with pretty much all onli

    • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:01AM (#6451060) Homepage Journal

      Theres two options. One option is to sell the product, I dont really think this would work very well but it would make some money. .50 per mp3 is sometihng people would be willing to pay if you are good, if you arent all that good, .25 per mp3.

      Micropayments are an option.

      The other option is subscription option, and this is the option I think will ultimately work. If we treat music like we treat TV, and we create channels for certain labels, you can charge someone to subscribe to a channel.

      So on your site if you are a channel, you list the price of all your musicians, and combine it up, then offer a subscribe button which a user clicks and makes payment to subscribe.

      Once they subscribe for maybe $1-5 a month, the user now can access all the music from that label as long as they pay their fee, or you can charge them for the whole year, charge them around the price of a CD, maybe $15-20, and they can access the music all year.

      There should be more than music, this means the whole community, the blogs, the forums, the pictures, video clips, everything you offer and you should offer as much as possible.

      Look at AOL, they are king not because they offer the net, we all can get the net, they are king because they offer the features people are willing to pay for, they improve the net experience.

      Its your job as a music company to improve the listeners music experience. INNOVATE, dont treat the listener as a sale, treat them as a member.

    • by angry old man ( 211217 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:43AM (#6451206)
      I may be just an angry old man, but I have an idea that could revolutionize the digital music industry (patent-pending).

      The label could take the highest quality digital version of the music and create analog presses that have near the same quality as the file. In each press, hot vinyl would be pressed to form a high quality analog reproduction of the music (patent-pending). Now, these vinyl *discs* could be packaged in a carboard envelope with printing, lyrics, and etc. Then they are sold. Certain *disc* players would read the music off of these *discs* by dragging a needle across the surface (patent pending) and reading the resulting vibrations.

      High fidelity buffs would be impressed with the quality, yet it's still analog which would prevent some piracy since people would prefer the *best* analog reproduction to some digital copy of that analog reproduction. Packaging would turn on people who want something a little extra with their music. Finally, and this is the ingenious part, since this *disc* is read by dragging a needle across the surface, the quality would degrade over time, preventing resale value from gnawing at new *disc* profits (patent-pending).

      The ultimate effect of my new music distribution model, is that piracy would come to an end, since the best copy is analog. At most, piracy would be used to sample the music of a particular *disc* prior to purchase. I could revolutionize a piracy filled industry. Recording Labels would grow since they longer have to worry about piracy and digital CDs being reproduced. They could tightly control the distribution of these vinyl *discs* thus controlling their profit.

      Music might become thought of as a tangible piece of property with a physical existance rather than some digital idea that is freely copied and shared. (patent-pending)

      • by LordBodak ( 561365 ) <> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @08:34AM (#6451627) Homepage Journal
        Although this was obviously meant to be funny, there is also a very insightful point in here.

        In the days of vinyl, a record came with all sorts of stuff-- large, often beautiful cover art; liner notes; lyrics; etc.

        Nowadays you get a few pictures in a booklet that are barely large enough to see, and only occasionally do you even get lyrics.

        The value-added content helped sell LPs; there is no question the lack of it is at least partially responsible for poor CD sales.

        • >In the days of vinyl, a record came with all
          >sorts of stuff

          So true.

          I know several people whose handwriting changed because they wanted to emulate the lyrics in the liner of Pink Floyd's Animals album. Remember the stickers that came in the Dark Side of the Moon album? If I saw one of those stuck somewhere, I thought of it as someone sacrificing a collectors item for my entertainment. How about actually cutting out and wearing the mask from Gentle Giant "Giant for a Day?"

          Never actually smoked a
  • Fast Downloads (Score:3, Insightful)

    by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:43AM (#6450965) Homepage Journal
    Fast downloads, thats all I care about.
  • Quality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robbieduncan ( 87240 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:43AM (#6450971) Homepage
    The format itself does not really matter (to me). I would prefer AAC, but MP3 is fine. What really matters is that the encoding is at a high enough bit rate and was done well. Correct id3 tags and artwork help too. If format is so important to people you might think about offering multiple formats in the downloads (I'm sure a lot of people around here want ogg).
  • by kevinatilusa ( 620125 ) <kcostell@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:44AM (#6450976)
    Regardless of whether I can print fancy jewel case covers/inserts out, I wouldn't really see your music as "just getting a bunch of files" any more than I would see a CD as "just getting a bunch of 0's and 1's". Ideally, I would like to focus on just two things, the quality of the music you play and the quality of the transfer of the music into the file. I would be willing to pay much more for those things than I would for the extras you mention.
  • Adding value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dew-genen-ny ( 617738 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:46AM (#6450982) Homepage
    I'd love to see as much thought that goes into a cd album being put into this :

    Specifically, I'd definately pay for a package that contained:

    High quality vbr mp3s.
    Multiple peices of album artwork, not just a scan of cd-album front cover.
    Lyric files to all the MP3s.
    Where available guitar chords as well.

    I think that copy protection would be a big turn off. For indie bands, I reckon that the majority of people would be happy to buy, even if they could get it for free, just as a matter of support.

    Perhaps an introduction to the album by the artists concerned.

    And of course, some decent music ;)
    • Re:Adding value (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:37AM (#6451185)
      High quality vbr mp3s

      Let me emphasize this: HIGH QUALITY!! This is BY FAR the most important issue for me. I swear if I hear another 128k MP3 labelled "CD-Quality" I'm going to scream and kick and kill my all of my fish.

      When talking MP3, 128kbps is NOT CD quality, no matter what encoder you use. Downloads in Ogg format would also be very nice. A lossless codec would be even better. Anything not lossless that calls itself "CD-Quality" is flat-out bogus.

      So, put HIGH QUALITY files up, open formats like Ogg, and FLAC, as well as mp3, lossless files if you have the bandwidth/disk capacity, and as others have mentioned, LOTS of pictures, videos, and things like that. Extra stuff. People that like a band enough to buy a CD are usually VERY interested in just about everything and everyone surrounding the band. I am, anyway. Foo Fighters had it right when they included the bonus DVD with their "All For One" release. Take that idea and triple it.

      Also, let people re-download their music freely if they've paid. Put that info in their account details so if their computer crashes they don't have to email you and cause everyone a big headache to get their music back. oversights like this can ruin the legitimate online music download market, so DON'T skip it.
  • but I would have the option of having a CD shipped with the tracks burned on it in either Audio or mp3 format.

    Print out the artwork and insert that too.

    Just for the techno-cripples out there.

    It would be interesting to see how the cost of such a CD stacked up against the price of a standard, retail CD in the stores.
  • Turn offs... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by duffhuff ( 688339 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:47AM (#6450992)
    What types things would turn you away?

    Juit quickly:

    1. Low quality and / or fixed format files. MP3 has a large market penetration and LAME is a great codec for 99% of the material, but I'd like to be able to download FLAC, WAV, OGG, or something else. Preferably a clean open lossless standard i.e. FLAC. If the track costs more for the high-quality version then the regular MP3 version I'm okay with that.

    2. Forced to purchase a full album over single tracks. This is a big turn off for me, as I find only a few tracks are really worth it.

    3. No preview of tracks. I'm not entirly sure if this is bad or not, but some way of previewing, either by a short clip, or a really low quality version of the song, is definately nice.

    4. No support for countries outside of the US.
    Obviously the US would be the biggest market to start out with, but support for Canada is a cruicial second IMO. Apple's iTunes Music Store doesn't (to my knowledge) support Canada yet, so I can't yet take advantage of it. Ideally, the system would be able to easily support all countries, perhaps with credit cards this is possible, but I see some possible legal implications here.

    • Apple's iTunes Music Store doesn't (to my knowledge) support Canada yet, so I can't yet take advantage of it.

      No, it doesn't just yet, but word is that it should be soon.

      Each damn country in the world has their own distribution policies so a company like Apple has to go to each one individually and negotiate with the reps there. It's a pain in the ass for sure but I don't see it changing anytime soon.
  • Media Quality (Score:2, Insightful)

    Well, as long as you're distributing MP3s and expecting people to burn them to CDs, just make they're nice high quality. like > 128kbps :-P

    From what I hear, Vorbis is good, too...

    Other advice: just keep your site accessable. Don't use frames, flash, font tags, tables (for non-table things), or too many images. People are (supposedly) there for the music, not for your flashy web site.

    What you have isn't too bad... I wouldn't want to deal with that HTML, though :-)
  • ugh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:49AM (#6451002)
    We are trying to add value to the MP3 albums we sell by including quality artwork that can be printed onto CD labels and jewel case inserts (so you aren't just getting a 'bunch of files').

    So now instead of buying an album which includes artwork, booklet, blah blah blah... You have to download the damn things, print them yourself, etc. I'm sorry, but that's too much damn work for me. Plus, the result would look so unprofessional which makes it feel cheap, and I hate cheap.

    This is so not the way to go. CD is a fine format. I like having the physical CD, I like having the physical artwork, I like CDs. I don't like the idea of paying money for bits and bytes that represent music.

    They should find a way of distributing physical media at lower prices. This is just like books vs "electronic books". You can't beat holding the thing in your hands, placing it in your shelf, looking at your massive collection... But whatever, I guess.
    • Re:ugh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lennart78 ( 515598 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:54AM (#6451020)
      I have to agree here. I have quite a large CD collection, and I take pride in that. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it's a sentiment that you will find among a lot of other people.

      Plus, there is the case of the 'limited edition'-CD of course, which will become extinct once distribution is fully digitized.

      Buying MP3's off the Net is an option for me if I want an individual track, but not the entire CD. But if I want the full album, I'd prefer a physical disk, with a nice booklet etc...
    • Re:ugh (Score:5, Informative)

      by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:18AM (#6451113) Journal
      "This is so not the way to go."

      Don't listen to this guy!! Or rather, do listen to him, and others as well :-)

      What I mean to say is that the market for music is rather diverse, and you will probably end up catering to a subset. Yes, some people like physical CDs. If you can manage to let such people select tracks, burn the CD for them, stick in a nicely printed sleeve and ship the physical thing to him for $15, you could capture this part of the market.

      But... there are plenty of people (like me) who do not care one bit for the physical product. I have lots of CD's, which I only play in my car stereo that I plan to replace with an MP3 or MiniDisc player anyway. I buy the CD, then rip the songs off it. I play my music from the computer at home. In the car or on the walkman I like to compose my own albums rather than play the prepackaged ones, so I use custom-burned CDs or MiniDiscs.

      My point: do a proper market study to find out who your customers actually are, and what they want. I seriously doubt that you will find one "way to go" or that "this is so not the way to go.".
  • What I'd care about (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kiowa ( 5743 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:50AM (#6451004) Homepage
    1. Easy payment by VISA, no paypal.
    2. Allow for some freebies so you can check out the band before you buy.
    3. High quality files (more than 128kbit mp3), and allow the option of selecting either ogg or mp3. Although you might be eligble for paying royalities if you go with mp3.
    4. Fast downloads.
  • Albums (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:50AM (#6451005)
    What I have built is simple and functional. We are trying to add value to the MP3 albums we sell by including quality artwork that can be printed onto CD labels and jewel case inserts (so you aren't just getting a 'bunch of files'). What would make you want to buy music in this way?

    Firstly, I would like to say that this isn't intended as a slur on your musicians.

    You must understand where the album came from, why it exists. It is an example of technology leading art. When the technology existed to fit n minutes of music onto a record, musicians started to produce works that were n minutes long. This is why first there were singles, then albums. This has meant that much of what is on an album is filler. I'm looking at my rack of CDs now, and most of them I bought for a few (3-5) great tracks out of a total of roughly 10. The MP3s I have online to listen to aren't complete albums, just the good somgs from each album. There are plenty of albums I can put on as background music, but few that I'd actually want to listen to. Some vendors (like Apple) are starting to understand that the album is an artificial construct... what people really want are individual songs, delivered efficiently. You can't do that so easily on CD, because there isn't so much of a price differential for a retailer to stock a CD album as a CD single (i.e. transportation costs, staff costs, etc are all the same). But now you can, with the network and the MP3 format.

    So, the thing that would make me buy online is being able to construct my own "greatest hits" album from a musicians entire catalogue, and get it sent to me on SACD or DVD/A. I'm not even worried about buying compilations of different artists - I can do those myself on my HD after all.

    This model is bad for some "artists" because it means they can't make money from filler, but it's good for real artists and their fans, because the percentage of an album that's worth listening to (and hence buying) is so much higher. And it's bad for record labels either way...
    • Re:Albums (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@astra d y n e .> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:04AM (#6451072) Homepage Journal
      There are plenty of albums I can put on as background music, but few that I'd actually want to listen to.

      Then I can only say that your listening habits are significantly different to mine and most of the people I associate with. It's rare for me to buy an album with more than a couple of poor tracks. The artists I like fairly consistently produce a solid collection of tracks with very little filler. There are a few exceptions, the odd one hit wonder that really doesn't have the songwriting ability to make a full album of music. But that's the exception, not the rule. Perhaps that's a consequence of listening to a genre of music (heavy metal) that's so under represented in the mainstream media that the concept of a single is almost unheard of. Most of my favourite bands only make albums -- there's no point in making a single, because it's never going to get played anywhere anyway. Or perhaps it's some other reason entirely...

      P.S. Today's music recomendation: Masterplan []'s eponymous debut album. Feel the soulburn...

    • Re:Albums (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eric76 ( 679787 )
      I have very few albums that have any filler at all.

      But then, I don't buy the album just to listen to the popular songs (i.e. the songs that the record companies are promoting).
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:51AM (#6451006) Homepage Journal

    You wont make alot of money trying to sell mp3s, however if your mp3s are 40-50 cents each, it will work. I'll buy a few mp3s if you dsell them for 50 cents each, price is the issue.

    I suggest you make your mp3s cheap, and make them high quality 360. Let us pay via paypal.

    Another way to handle it, if you dont want to go this route, is to let fans subscribe through paypal for say $1 a month. For $1 a month they recieve access to a site you setup which has mp3s on it, comments from the band like a band blog,pictures of concerts, and a list of when the concerts will be in the area etc.

    Sell your services, dont sell your mp3s, people want to pay for services not for music. Do what AOL does, dont sell the websites, sell the service, set it up so we have to pay to access the blog, the mp3s, the pictures, and anything else a fan may like, make them pay to access the forum, and use MP3s are just part of the whole package.

    give away a few mp3s so new people can listen and see if your band is actually good, but keep everything else for subscribers.

    Video clips, Mp3s, Forum, Blog, Pictures, if your band is good, fans will pay for this.
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:08AM (#6451086) Journal
      "Sell your services, dont sell your mp3s, people want to pay for services not for music. Do what AOL does, dont sell the websites, sell the service, set it up so we have to pay to access the blog, the mp3s, the pictures, and anything else a fan may like, make them pay to access the forum, and use MP3s are just part of the whole package."

      Hell no. Stick to your core business: music. Yes, do the rest as well, the blogs, pictures, and so on (I like the ability to obtain CD cover art), perhaps as a premium service for subscribers. But your core business is music: sell that! When I visit the site, I will do so to download music, and I'd be willing to pay for that. If I'd find enough music to interest me, I would take a subscription if it was offered. I might be interested in cover art, artist blogs and video clips, but if I had to pay to access these, I would simply do without them. My advice: offer these additional services for free to hook your customers to your site, and hope that it'll make them buy more music from you.

      That said, it's a good idea to set up subscription-type plans, where a user pays a monthly fee for limited or unlimited downloads, ie. charge $0.99 a song, and $15/month for 50 songs each month. Perhaps offer subscribers a few extra services.

      Also think about selling download bundles / gift certificates! Ie. an (electronic) gift certificate for 50 songs that you can order and mail to someone else for their birthday. If your current customers like your service, they'll want gift certificates and with those they will do your marketing for you, in a way.
    • I'd like to second this. I was a member of the Kosmic Free Music Foundation [] from 1997 on. As the name implies, anyone could download our music for free.

      However the group, and our website, generated a lot of traffic and interest and I think the users might have been willing to pay for access to certain services in order to communicate directly with their favorite artists, have access to chatroom sessions for Q&As, get 'members only' info or betas of upcoming tracks. Let the music prove you're good by pu
  • Amazon It! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plasticmillion ( 649623 ) <> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:52AM (#6451008) Homepage
    I agree with all the previous comments: price, speed, choice of quality, etc. are all important. I would add in this context that having an online account would be a big plus, so that I can pay in a certain amount (say $10-20) and then buy tracks out of that account, rather than having to bill my credit card every time for $.79 or $.99 or whatever.

    Most importantly, the user experience needs to be attractive since this is a very competitive space (and a lot of your competition has a compelling price point: free). Take a long, hard look at, which is the best e-commerce website I know. Notice how they have striven to make the purchasing process fun and informative. Notice also how the information-rich experience they provide helps to cross- and upsell customers ("People who bought X also bought Y"). If you can include ratings, recommendations, user comments, etc. in your site in a way that is slick and easy to use, that will definitely help to attract and retain customers.

    • Another improvement would be, instead of buying tracks we should buy memberships to channels.

      These channels, or sites should provide forums like this, and many many exclusive innovative features, interviews with the band, and whatever else. And include mp3s with the package, but not AS the package.

      In the same way an AOL user gets AIM, Mozilla, Winamp, and all these cool software, but its not why they pay for AOL, its just what makes AOL a good package.

  • When you have a nice stereo and are already annoyed by bad or mediocre recordings, making them sound worse with lossy compression is not really desirable.

    If they are encoded 256kbit/s or lossless, I might think about it. Until then, I'll have to buy music in physical form.

    And no, I'm not audiophile, just an enthousiast.
  • Personal opinion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Compact Dick ( 518888 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:53AM (#6451018) Homepage
    No, I don't give a shit about printable stuff as of now. Could change in the future.

    However - one thing about MP3. When you're converting concerts [or anything else where the tracks are seamless] MP3 does not cut it*. Why? Because the MP3 specification does not allow gapless playback.

    Stick to Ogg Vorbis or MPC instead, which are natively gapless [not to mention of higher quality.] The former is patent-free, royalty-free and more flexible than MP3. Plus Winamp has native support.

    * There is a proposal that aims to calculate gaps from MP3/AAC/MP4 and remove them, but this isn't implemented in any player/decoder yet.
  • Some comments (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lpret ( 570480 ) <> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:53AM (#6451019) Homepage Journal
    First off, kudos for doing whole albums instead of track-by-track. This allows experimentation and breadth of style.
    If I were to be downloading these albums, something I would worry about is bitrate -- whether you encode at 128 or 192 or anything in between. I don't listen to rock, but when I'm listening to a techno track at 128, I cringe at every flaw and makes it quite unlistenable. Also, I'd be worried that if I downloaded this and then my hard drive went kaput that I wouldn't have access to it anymore. Of course it may be best to burn to CD as soon as it's all downloaded.

    Things I Like: I like having stuff in .mp3. I have 3 mp3 players so it's much easier to not have to convert and as is especially the case with indie stuff, enter in the id3 info meticulously. I like the lower price. 2 bucks for a whole album? Sure I'll give 'em a whirl, especially if I heard them on your internet radio. I think internet radio sites need to become publishers more often so that people who hear the music can find it. I like your model: listen to IR, hear a song you love, go to your website, find the album the track is on and download it for 2 bucks, knowing you'll love at least one track but possibly more.

    Again, kudos, if I listened to punk or metal or whatever, I'd give you a spin for sure.

    • > First off, kudos for doing whole albums instead of track-by-track. This allows experimentation and breadth of style.

      Only if it's marketed as "Buy five good tracks, get five three minute guitar solos free!"

  • $10 or $15 for a CD would be a normal price. Overhere 25 Euro is more in the ballpark with "friendly priced CDs" being somewhere between 10 and 20 Euros.

    Most things I buy are between 20 Euro en 40 Euro...
    10-15 would be a great improvement.
    • I personally never pay over E. 20,- for a CD. I think any price over E. 20,- for a single CD is grossly overrated, and the excess money only ends up in Hilary Rosens pocket.

      Go for the independent record store, or look through the 'special offers'-section. You'll find a lot of good stuff there, for a decent price.
      (Unless you want the new Britney Spears album NOW!, then I guess you're just screwed, but then I won't give a rats ass about it :) )
      • I do get things that are lower priced (the "friendly priced CDs I mentioned). But stuff that's just been released (no not Britney...;-) and that I like, is more expensive, no special offers there. And yes this is at my local specialty store which I support because they know their stuff and are willing to look for obscure things too...
  • by goldenfield ( 64924 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:56AM (#6451036) Journal
    I've burned all my music, and carry it around with me on my iBook/iPod. Then, I threw away all the cases, put all the CDs in binders, and put the binder in a box in my basement.

    The point is, I want the music for the music...I'm not really interested in whatever packaging it comes in. Thats just something else I have to carry around while I'm travelling.

    What I do care about is:
    * Fast Downloads
    * Price
  • Since it's more than likely that our good friends from R*AA and MS etc.. are gonna be astroturfing this site, and building their strategies based on some of the posts - methinks it wud be nice not to post any bright ideas.

    Look what MS did to Schnazzle recently!
    OMG: Google's taken off the article entirely. I'll dig it up shortly anyways.

  • by trikberg ( 621893 ) <[trikberg] [at] []> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:57AM (#6451039)

    You do have to contend with bandwidth charges though

    Is this really necessary? As I've posted before I think a different approach is possible. Set up a site where people can select songs and pay for these using whatever method you prefer: credit card, paypal...

    Once they have paid they are free to acquire the song any way they can. This could include you providing a torrent or a slow download, but users are equally free to get the song from any P2P network or by copying from a friend, relieving you of much of the bandwidth costs

    This has the effect of legitimizing P2P networks which is why big brands are not going to go for it for a very long time. It does however give small brands an easy entry to online sales. Users take care of the distribution and you only have to provide them with a way of paying.

    • downloading music is already completely legal, at least it is here in the netherlands. this is analogous to recording from radio. copying from a friend is also legal, as is borrowing the CD from a library and copying it.
  • Factors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by falsemover ( 190073 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:58AM (#6451047)
    my wallet is tighter than a clam's butt, unless:
    1. the web site page response is zippy
    2. the catalog was well designed
    3. it enabled me to match my preferences with new artists
    4. the site had good editorial control so I don't have to wade through a lot of junk to get to a reasonable file
    5. downloads are slick
    6. information about the artist was provided; eg discography
    7. there was peer review of files (eg. star rating system)
  • Ogg Vorbis (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmilingBoy ( 686281 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @05:59AM (#6451048)
    A big plus would be if you offered the files both in MP3 and Ogg Vorbis [].

    Ogg Vorbis would also save you some bandwidth cost as files with the same quality are smaller than MP3 files.

    Ideally, you would want to encode at quality setting 5, which results in pretty-close-to-CD-quality. This is about 160kbps at the moment and the quality is, IMHO, a tick better than a 192kbps MP3.

  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:00AM (#6451056) Homepage Journal
    One thing you really need is some publicity.

    A good trick is to cleverly craft and advert for your site and then cunningly present it as an "ask slashdot" question, thereby getting free advertising to huge numbers of people.

    I would do something like that if I were you.
  • I would not (Score:2, Interesting)

    by najt ( 178981 )
    I would not. I'm a big music fan and collector, and there are several problems for "us" :)

    - lossy compression and other problems with MP3
    - CD-Rs are inferior to silver discs which will last me a lifetime and not fall apart in 5 years
    - there is no cheap & quality way that I could print out an album booklet and inserts
    - I consider an artist's album (cd, booklet, packing) a complete piece of art and that can't be substituted with getting a bunch of files.
  • The poster mentions what most of us realized many years ago: aside from production of the music, bandwidth is now the only commodity necessary for distribution. Bandwidth has replaced packaging, to some extent even promotion costs.

    So now for the off-topic section. Why isn't there a credit-based, RIAA-endorsed P2P system yet?

    If I buy the new Celine Dion CD, rip the music and offer the tracks to others- I've done all the work. If someone pays into an RIAA credit system and then spends X amount of credits
  • Other services (Score:2, Informative)

    by eric76 ( 679787 )
    I currently subscribe to both AudioGalaxy's Rhapsody service and to the service.

    I don't use p2p at all.

    The nice thing about is that for a fixed price per month (approximately $15 based on a 3 month contract), I can download and burn all the CDs I want. My music tastes are quite varied (classical, jazz, country, new age, easy listening, folk, gospel, rock, and some that aren't so easy to categorize) and so I get my money's worth from that service.

    Actually, I don't usually burn the C
  • Ideal solution (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The backend admin rips all the CD tracks (lossless - flac, shn, etc; lossy - mp3, ogg, aac) with a unique ID attached to them, as well as alternate rips in low-quality ogg or mp3 for streaming to the NAS tied to the commerce store.

    The Method
    Customer browses the store --> Previews albums, tracks --> Saves them to the wishlist or adds them to the cart (which calculates the duration of 80 minutes dynamically) --> Places order by a credit card --> The system then fishes out the selected tracks in
  • Internet Distibution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Snoobs ( 43421 )
    As a business model, selling digital files online seems like a great thing. You can reach a world wide audience, you don't have to pay for shipping, packaging, and like you said, distribution is the cost of bandwidth which these days is about $20 a month at most web hosts (unlimited bandwidth).

    As a DJ, the one thing that I notice is that it is better to get a physical product into the hands of as many retailers on the web as possible and use MP3s for promotion. As a format, i don't think that I would eve
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:10AM (#6451095)
    "Albums?" "Bunch of files?" Ye Gods, man, why? It's been years since music packaged as an "album" was meaningful. Unless your boys are the next King Krimson or Moody Blues, they -- and you -- should be focusing on distributing their work on a song-by-song basis.

    "Artwork?" See above. Lyrics, sure. Give us a link from your Website. Band photo? Okay, fine, whatever. But artwork? Cute, but not a whole lot of value added, IMO. The odds of your band's tracks living on their own CD in my collection are tres slim.

    Price? Competitive with iTunes. Less than a buck per song. Per Song Want the ability to preview each track I buy.

    Format? I'm a 256kb/s Ogg man myself, but it's tough to argue for that against the vastly more popular MP3. You are aware that the second your avaerage customer downlaods a track from your site it will begin to swirl about the planet freely on P2P networks across which you will receive no compensation? I trust the bands have another surce of revenue (touring, day jobs) and aren't planning on getting rich from MP3 sales...? If your sales just about cover your prep and distribution costs, and you categorize the whole venture under "PR" or "Promotion," I'd say you would have a winner.
  • by LS ( 57954 )
    The mp3 samples are nice, but I have a couple of suggestions. Make them a bit longer, so that at least the first hook is heard. Even having two-thirds of the song is up there won't prevent people from purchasing. Some of the songs don't even begin before they are cut off. Speaking of which, use some audio editing software to fade the pieces out so it isn't such a slap in the face when the song ends.

  • I don't have a huge backup tape system.

    Burning my complete collection onto CDs as a backup would be incredibly sucky.

    I want the server to keep track of what I've bought and allow me to 'resynch' with it if my hard drive blows up.

    The last thing I want is to have to pay for my entire myusic collection again. (Which is what you have to do with iTunes).
  • Fuck albums. I don't listen to albums, I don't burn albums, I listen to and burn tracks. Don't force me to buy filler. If your artists are producing typical RIAA albums that are three good singles quality tracks and a bunch of filler, that's their problem, not mine.

    I can preview RIAA music on the radio, on MTV-a-like channels, and in some music stores before I buy (oh, and I can share it, but let's pretend I only do that after I've previewed it elsewhere). How can I preview yours? Remember, this is p

  • You described the advantage of selling MP3 as reduced costs, no packaging etc etc, and then you go on to try to figure out ways of adding extra things. I sense some confusion.

    Dude, sell the music. Only. And sell it track by track, not per album.

    If you want to be fussy about it, you could add some header info or better yet some bit overlayed (post encoding) purchase info to track folks "sharing" it, but other than that, keep it simple. People are used to the idea of $1 == 1 song, so if you can, just go wi

  • I would readily pay for a CD-to-order service. Let me hear a sample of the tracks and order the ones I want in a CD, it can be a CD-R. With sound levels properly normalized and nice cover art, of course. Sent by mail to anyplace (never underestimate the bandwith of a station wagon full of tapes, and so on and so forth).

    This of course is more interesting as the volume of the songs database grows, but I guess its a relatively easy to implement, and I for one would like it a lot.

  • by Paul Johnson ( 33553 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:38AM (#6451188) Homepage
    The big problem with selling content is that the customer can't inspect it before the sale, and can't effectively return it after the sale.

    (Incidentally, have you thought about the rate of chargebacks you will get from people who download the music and then claim it wasn't them?)

    This introduces a risk for the customer: what if I don't like it. You can reduce this risk in two ways:

    1. Provide low-quality samples from the tracks.
    2. Provide some kind of "reputation" system akin to those provided by Amazon, so that people can easily find music that people with similar tastes also like.

    Good luck.


    • I wouldn't provide low-quality samples, because that might cause users to think that the music you are providing is of similar quality. Providing a free track or two from the disc or a 30-second preview (a la iTunes) would be a better option for users to sample your music.

      Also, remember that the costs of shipping, handling, packaging etc. will be quickly made up in the costs for bandwidth.

  • everthing matters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:39AM (#6451192)
    I think you touched on many things that matter. Price, Format.. but even more rights or site features also matter.
    Here are a few ideas that might help you out.
    • Format - mp3, ogg, wmv.. the answer is yes. Why not offer all of the formats.. if you offer one its trival for someone to re-encode to a format they want.. but why make them? It will save you a small amount of disk space in the end.. but possiably cost you users. So the correct answer is to offer all possiable formats at the expense of a little disk space.
    • Price - this is a tough one. I would recomend going with at least two options.. first a per track - with a cut price for full ablums. The second is a all you can eat flat rate. As the recent RIAA articals posted on slashdot we know that artist make next to nothing on their album sales. So why not embrace this, use this reason to keep the costs per track as low as possible.. something on the order of a nickle or dime per track. At that rate you will kill most pirates as it wont be worth it to pirate when you can download everthing for a few bucks and get it quick and clean. Remember your goal is to make keep the serivce profitable and while keeping the artist in the front and getting them gigs where they make the real money.
    • free radio streaming - you should run streaming on the site.. and push it.. with shows.. and user requests allowing communitys to build around the service.
    • real world tie-ins - as part of the communitys you should give presales and promos to community members. Such as cut rate tickets or even garrenteed presales to subscribers. Many people who dont download would be willing to pay a few bucks a month to get them deals on concert tickets. Avid fans would kill for a chance at backstage passes or other common give aways. I mean big acts hand these out to radio stations to give to jacksasses that dont have jobs and most likly never heard of the band. Shouldn't promos go to the real fans?
    • Band sites - as communitys build you should plan to have at least templates for bands to have their own sites including forums and other tools. Another part of this is to have clear rules about fan run sites and things such as art work and linking. If you have the rules clear before this happens youll avoid stepping on toes and pissing off the very people that your making money on. The Rules should not be just donts.. but also do's and things like sources of art work.. and how to link. How to attribute and how to stay legal.

    I have yet to see a site that knows whats its doing. Most are crap.. and the few that do something right.. do alot more wrong. The best thing is to remember what the goals are .. and to plan well while remaining flexable. Never forget that your in this to promote the music and build a following.. so the normal RIAA tatics that confront end users dont work so well. Passive aggreive works the best.. give and take.. when you find a person swapping the albums.. show them how to link to your site and program their own radio show and then ask them to stop swapping. When that doesnt work use the good will you have built in the community to put on the outside and watch the peer pressure stop them. Soon the community will be self policeing

    Dont be like Darth Vader.. dont squeeze your grip..they will only slip between your fingers.. keep your hands open.. and scoop them all up.
  • Recommended Songs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jadavis ( 473492 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:52AM (#6451227)
    Here are two ideas I would like, and would certainly pay for:
    (1) A radio like service where I can listen at any time and choose preferences about music type. Then, when I heard something I like, I can save it at high bitrate (higher than the streaming radio, or perhaps even CD quality) for a fixed price with a "one-click" kind of interface. Maybe it could cost a fixed price per month ($5-$10) and then maybe $0.50 - $1.00 per song that I keep. This is obviously the more complicated system, but I think it's just about ideal.

    (2) A website where I can sample songs (maybe a part at low bitrate) and get intelligent recommendations. Then I just buy what I want. I would prefer to not have a monthly cost, since sometimes I tire of a service and I don't like to have to go through a cancellation. But, I would be willing to pay up-front (like 5 or 10 songs) and then choose the ones I want later (I know that saves on transaction costs for the merchant).
  • Problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amomynos Coward ( 674631 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @06:54AM (#6451235)
    There's one big problem in buying music from the net: reselling. After I get bored with my cd, I just sell it away. With mp3s, I'm not able to do that. Printable covers make this problem even worse: I probably shouldn't be able to sell a self-burned cd? There will be tons more of illegal cds in second hand. Don't get me wrong: I don't work for RIAA, but there's real problems in distributing music in electronic format.
  • by w4rl5ck ( 531459 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @07:16AM (#6451324) Homepage
    in short. It should be a simple, open format (even ogg if you like ;), should be about 1$/song (or less, if you like), and it should be possible to copy the file as often as one would want to - for personal use, of course.
  • by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @07:17AM (#6451327) Homepage
    ...a few albums off your site, the price is acceptable to me. But when I clicked on the Shopping FAQ [], it seems that you only accept payments via PayPal.

    Give me an alternative to purchase via a merchant with a properly implemented online payment scheme which doesn't require me to:
    a) Live in the US/Canada/EU countries (or some other form of geographical bias).
    b) Pass to them my current/savings account info.
    c) Fax paperwork to them.

    And there are lots of them out there on the net... Try to resist the "easiest way out" method by using (only) PayPal.
  • by Corrado ( 64013 ) < minus physicist> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @07:38AM (#6451397) Homepage Journal
    I think it would be valuable to give away "stuff". I would love to be able to purchase 10 songs from my favorite band(s) and get a limited edition T-Shirt for free. Or a bumber sticker, poster, something. This would keep me loyal to the site (I have to have so many purchases in order to get my "stuff" points) and keep the P2P poachers at bay.

    Well, at least if gives them an incentive to purchase instead of steal (even if I "share" the files I won't be sharing my T-Shirt).
  • File Quality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StarFace ( 13336 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @07:40AM (#6451404) Homepage
    As it has been noted by several others, there is no firm reason to sell music as "albums." If you are going to move primary distribution to a media-less format, there is no reason go constrict your sales to formats that are bound to media constraints. There is nothing wrong with selling files in sets, this is a good thing because it allows the artist to play with multi-song themes and such. There has been much cleverness with the ablum based format, and I would hate to see that disappear. But the age of the single song release is approaching. Even if they come in sets, they should be available individually as well.

    The primary concern of mine is audio quality. I will refuse to pay for MP3s. Those are for sampling what an artist has and deciding if you wish to purchase their work or not. Listening to even higher quality encodes on my system is pretty painful, and my system is not even that particularly expensive (in the grand scheme of audio, at any rate.)

    I would pay for FLAC, but that is a lot of bandwidth.

    Originally, I was going to write that you should provide the ability to re-download in the future at no cost, like some of the better eBook distributors, but I think that is unnecessary and too expensive for you. The user should be responsible with their purchase. When I buy a CD, I immediately rip it, burn a copy and then store encoded OGG files for light listening usage. I then use the CD-R for common usage, and the "master" goes back in the jewelcase and into the library where it isn't touched. It's just common sense to me. If you buy a CD and step on it ten years later you are going to have go buy another one. If you lose the files you bought from some online retailer ten years ago, you'll have to buy another copy. The same risk of whether or not the original is available is still there with CDs, the thing might be out of print. Half of the CDs I own are already out of print. That is why I am so careful with them.

  • My two cents... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UrGeek ( 577204 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @08:21AM (#6451562)
    ...make it 128Kbps Ogg Vorbis format, stereo, and downloadable with the "Save file as" function. Do not charge more than 10 cents a song or a dollar an album.
    Have a web page per song with lyrics and artwork. These pages can be saved. Have a tutorial for newbies.
    Never use Real Player, Quicktime, or anything but Ogg Vorbis, or maybe MP3 if you have to.
  • My take (Score:4, Informative)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:36AM (#6451954) Homepage Journal
    First off, let me say that I'm someone who has purchased music from the iTunes music store, and I bought ten CDs this month. I'm not some w4r3z addict pontificating about what might hypothetically make me pay for content.

    OK, that said...

    I need to be able to preview tracks. Especially if (as seems likely) they're from bands I've never heard of.

    I need the site to work with any browser.

    I need the files to be burnable on a normal audio CD. I would like them to be regular audio files unencumbered by DRM.

    Ideally I'd like LAME encoded MP3s, using --alt-preset standard or --r3mix depending on how much bandwidth you think you can spare.

    I'd like downloadable artwork, yes. I'd print that out or add it to the MP3s for iTunes.

    If you're gonna sell whole albums only, I need the price to be lower than the iTunes music store. I wouldn't buy an album from the iTMS because it's no cheaper than CD if you shop around; all my purchases have been single tracks from albums I would never buy the rest of. I reckon about 50 cents per track or $5 per album would work.

    I absolutely will not pay for RealAudio or Windows Media content at any price, because they're proprietary write-only formats.
  • mp3's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dimonic ( 688129 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:09AM (#6452174)
    As an older (40+) music lover, I would pay for recordings that are "out of print", or otherwise unavailable. Anyone who could distribute that kind of material could have my $5 per CD worth anyday.
  • What I want (Score:3, Interesting)

    by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:10AM (#6452181) Journal
    We are trying to add value to the MP3 albums we sell by including quality artwork that can be printed onto CD labels and jewel case inserts (so you aren't just getting a 'bunch of files'). What would make you want to buy music in this way?

    The first consideration is quality.

    That said, price is more important.

    Huh? Since I don't know the artistic quality of the MP3s in question, I need a (very) low price to get me to risk buying what I may never listen to.

    This is why has been so useful for me: there's no (additional, beyond the monthly subscription) risk to trying something -- and so no regret if that something isn't what I was looking for.

    As far as value-added products: I have no intention of burning any of the music I (all legally) download; MP3s for me mean the convenience of not changing CDs, and the convenience of carray around 60 GB of music in my pocket. So CD cover art doesn't move me -- and how much CD cover art is that great anyway.

    What does add value for me is complete and accurate ID3v2.4 tags. Also valuable would be lyrics included in the ID3 tags, and even better would be synchronized lyrics (another tag).

    And of course, the MP3 techical quality matters: give me something on the order of -r3mix (joint stereo, varaiable bit rate at ~192 kbps average) at a relatively constant volume over the whole album, etc. Without the buzzwords, high quality encodings, and you'll probably want lower quality versions too for the guys who complain that anything over 128 kpbs is wasted on their ears.
  • MP3 is obsolete (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:49AM (#6452516) Homepage Journal
    As you know, if you can sell music in a format such as MP3 you eliminate the costs of packaging, shipping, handling.
    And if you sell it in a format such as Vorbis, then you also eliminate the cost of patent licensing.

    And there's the issue of quality. Buying lossy-encoded music makes me feel uneasy. Even though all my music is played back from Vorbis files, in the back of my mind I know that I still have the source CDs, so if someday I were ever to upgrade my hardware to a level of quality where artifacts were perceptable (however unlikely), I can always re-encode with a higher bitrate.

    I don't think I want to buy 128kbps files, even though stuff encoded at that bitrate sounds fine on the equipment that I use today. Make 'em very high bitrate Vorbis files or Flac or something. But not MP3.

    Beyond that.. frankly, I can't think of any value I want added to the music. Just give me the files and assurance that the musicians got paid, and I'll be a happy customer.

    • Re:MP3 is obsolete (Score:3, Insightful)

      by djeaux ( 620938 )
      These are good points.

      You might consider encoding some sample files as mp3, Vorbis & flac, and then let some of the musicians be the judge.

      Same goes for artwork. Sure, a lot of listeners might think it's peripheral, but musicians often think it's pretty important.

      Remember, the musicians will be as much your "customers" as the folks who download the music.

  • by YllabianBitPipe ( 647462 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @11:19AM (#6452812)

    I have quite the opposite viewpoint, and I dare say I'm a more your target audience since I've bought quite a bit from the Apple Music store.

    I don't want to be encumbered by cd booklet, jacket art, or a physical CD. I spent quite a bit of time converting everything in my CD collection to MP3s for portability in file form. I also don't want to be tied to the album format; part of the point of Mp3s is to mix and match songs by artist. Therefore, the liner notes of a CD is uneeded for the song order. The song titles are in the file. The lyrics? If I cared that much, I'd look 'em up online. Art? I'm certainly not looking at the art when I'm listening to this stuff on an iPod...

    I'd say in terms of extras you could focus on higher quality audio for people who like the tunes. And, put the lyrics online for those who want them. Lastly, I'd suggest music videos streaming on your website. Other than that, I don't think many people who are into buying Mp3s are going to be overly concerned with all these "extras". The people who are into extras are probably going to be wanting a CD anyway.

  • I'd buy if I got two versions of the music: the version I use when listening on an audiophile quality stereo, at home, when enjoying the music to its fullest; and secondly, I'd want a really gritty quality version that is low bandwidth and mostly representative of the music, with a short clip of audio at the end of each song giving the WWW for how to buy the original.

    That way I could distribute to my friends low grade versions that prompts them to buy the originals, and I don't have to feel guilty about discovering a great band and wanting to share the joy of music to friends and family.

    The high quality versions could be upwards of 10mb per song, the low quality should be less than a meg or so. Really dirty. If someone likes what they hear and are inspired, each song will tell them how to buy the good quality ones.

    Just an idea. I know I'd be more likely to buy online if that were the case.
  • by stuartkahler ( 569400 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @01:43PM (#6454179)
    Cheap: $1 for a song, maybe $2 for several mixes of the same song. Buy the whole album at once for 50 cents/song; $5-8 total. Offer to also ship a pressed CD with liner notes and lyrics for $3 more.

    Convienence: Filesharing with MP3s is popular because you can burn a CD, transfer it between all of your MP3 playing devices, and listen to it as often as you like. Music isn't like a toilet (RIAA not withstanding). Two people should be able to use it at the same time. There should be no restrictions on my music listening when I pay for it.

    High download speeds: Filesharing has a serious weakness that you are typically downloading at 1-5 KB/sec. Make sure your servers can sustain 100+ KB/sec. My time is worth money. I'll gladly pay money so I don't have to spend time rummaging through strangers' hard drives.

    Previews: Offer either 64kbs streams/downloads for free to preview every song, or at least a minute of excerpts from the song so that you can get a good feel for the sound. The RIAA is already flooding Kazaa with preview files, but they upload slowly, aren't labeled clearly and are just as badly organized as the rest of the music (*sarcasm*).
    I can download two minute trailers for upcoming movies. Music frequently just has art on the cover by someone other than the musician. Useful for porn, not useful for music.

    Cross-reference music by popularity. Show other artists and songs that were also popular with people that liked the song I'm looking at. Clear Channel is killing music diversity in this country. I want to find and buy new music, not the crap that gets played on 4 different radio stations 10 times a day. I'd like to find artists from other countries. E-mail me when my favorite artist releases something new. Send me weekly links with music that is similar to other stuff I have bought before.

    Add extras: Give free lyrics and pictures with the download. Especially with a full album. People like to be able to put a face to the artist.

    Diverse selection: Indie labels are screwed in this regard. The RIAA labels should have set up their own pay-to-download site a few years ago. They should have at least set up listening stations in every store with more than 1000 CDs. Walmart has them, but they carry very few CDs, and you can only preview a limited selection. 250 gig hard drives are pretty inexpensive now. There is no excuse for not having a secure music server with 5000 albums in every Best Buy (and other major music retailer) in the nation.

    Most importantly, remember that listening to music needs to be fun, easy and a good value. There are tons of entertainment forms. Music is just one of them.

There are three kinds of people: men, women, and unix.