Friday, September 05, 2003

Two good pieces on Slashdot

So, Universal Music has just reduced album prices to $13, and some guy is trying to sell a song he bought on iTunes on eBay.

I have no idea how much of an effect Universal's move will have because I can't remember ever paying much more than $13 for a CD (I always had a coupon, or there was some sale going on). But if a move in suggested retail price from $18 to $13 means actual retail prices go from $13 t $8, then it might become competitive with free, but less convenient, online services. But from their press release, this move in price only applies to historic records, so the new hits will be as expensive as ever. But I do not know whether people download new hit singles most or older "archive" material, and I also do not know which is more profitable to the labels, I just know that they don't sell older material much. And what is most significant about the price cut to me is how it breaks the monolithic uniform pricing we see for music, which I suspect came from tacit collusion within the industry. I'm sure the remaining big 4 are watching Universal's experiment carefully.

The guy selling the song on eBay is stirring up unpleasant legal issues that we (I) would much rather just elide. I am not sure what Apple's deal with the labels included, but I bet they promised that people would not take songs off the iTunes store and put them up on P2P networks because of how the iTunes experience was structured, not because of DRM. Offering the music on eBay seems to put that deal into question and makes a case for DRM which, as Apple understands, would kill the experience iTunes offers.


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