Yahoo forces RIAA staff cutbacks…

Ok, not yet. But they are coming. I promise.

Not that I ever want to see anyone lose their jobs, but it will be nice for music label employees to have all the subsidies they are paying the RIAA go to their artists. (Yes you were supposed to laugh at that one.)

As Barry Ritholtz smartly pointed out in his blog, the introduction of Yahoo’s Music Unlimited Service sets the new marketvalue for all the music you can download in a month…5 bucks.

The RIAA can no longer claim that students who are downloading music are costing them thousands of dollars each. They can’t claim much of anything actually. In essence, Yahoo just turned possession of a controlled music substance into a misdemeanor. Payable by a $5 per month fine.

Of course, RIAA staffers won’t go quietly into the night. They will continue to scream loud and hard about evils of illegal downloading. The question is, will they move the money they are currently spending on court cases and filing suit, towards promoting the new subscription services that are available. Particularly Yahoo’s dirt cheap service.

Will they have the sense to say…”Ok kid, you are about to get sued, which will mean we both spend money on lawyers, and then we kick your butt in court and you pay a multi-thousand dollar settlement, OR, you can sign up for any of the all you can eat music subscriptions, Rhapsody, Napster or Yahoo Music. Your choice. 5 bucks a month. Or thousands of bucks.

Will the RIAA mitigate circumstances and turn their efforts toward promoting legal downloads, or will they still get their jollies from suing their customers?

And what about our favorite back pocket politician, Orrin “but Im a songwriter too” Hatch. What will he get on his knees for in order to get money from the music industry? Could he possibly still get worked up and spend our hard earned taxpayer money for crimes whose total economic value is 5 bucks per month. (yes, you were supposed to laugh again.) Will he try to induce people to spend the 5 bucks, or will he still think its necessary to destory users PCs?

How about this Orrin, why don’t you introduce a Utah Loves Music bill, that requires every citizen of the lovely state of Utah (dont laugh here, it really is pretty), to pay a $5 per month music tax?You could negotiate a statewide discounted deal with Yahoo Music Unlimited, grab a few bucks off the top for yourself and the state, and you would have completely rid the entire state of Utah of illegal downloading!

By offering music so economically, Yahoo has changed how the RIAA should and can spread Piraphobia around the country. It should also change the perspective our politicians have about the subject as well. How can the Attorney General divert resources to save the music biz 5 bucks a pop? How can bills be proposed that try to save the music industry 5 bucks a month?

Of course it won’t happen in a straight line. There are RIAA jobs and political contributions to protect. And although the Yahoo and other sub services are not perfect, they will get continuously better and support more and more devices and have increasing flexibility.

This is the low point for subscription services. Which is a good thing. It’s going to get better and better every year.

Anyone want to show RIAA lawyers how to use Craigslist?

See what the blogosphere is saying about Yahoo Music Service

84 thoughts on “Yahoo forces RIAA staff cutbacks…

  1. Nice post!

    I wonder how long will it be before Yahoo offers a similar answer to the MPAA?

    Comment by Chuck Lawson -

  2. Yeah, I want to subscribe to something where all you are really doing is renting the music. So if somethign better comes along, or you find another service, or you can’t even afford it anymore, all the music you “downwloaded” now won’t play.

    Sorry, no thanks. I’ll go with a service where I can actually OWN the music I’m paying for, not rent it.

    Comment by Jason (Go Pacers) -

  3. Hey Josh J. Thanks for the post to Ian Rogers’ blog. Great post, though admittedly I got a caveat early in his post to not try Yahoo! Music Engine:

    “(If you’re using Foobar2000, keep on, brother man, I ain’t going to war with y’all purists.)”

    Comment by Jeffool -

  4. Mark said: Anyone want to show RIAA lawyers how to use Craigslist?

    Hell no. I LIKE Craigslist :–D

    Comment by Gordon -

  5. Mark,

    Thanks for being on the cutting edge of knowledge.

    I don’t get as much info for free anywhere else.

    Maybe we should buy Yahoo ?

    Comment by Mike -

  6. It’s a great service for the price, I’m curious as to how the royalties are split between artists for this service.

    First you’ve got to split it between labels, then split between artists. Is it split between artists evenly, based on amount of plays or amount of tracks? Do artists even get to say which tracks are allowed on the unlimited service?

    Don’t get me wrong, for the consumer this is a great service and well worth the money. I’m just curious as to how people get paid under this system.

    Comment by Adam -

  7. The Yahoo music service is great. It allows me to have access to basically the entire music cd collection at Best Buy for the price of 5 cd’s a year. That’s insane. I love it. And to be honest with you, the best thing is that I don’t have to deal with stupid cd’s. I can change artists at the click of a button. As for those who complain about “losing their music” if they ever stop subscribing, I’d like them to honestly tell me how often they listen to a cd they purchased more than three years ago. Maybe like once a year? The problem with music is that you can only listen to a song so many times before it becomes old and then you need something new to listen to. Yahoo does the perfect job of overcoming that problem. I just hope they make enough money to keep the service going.

    Comment by John Montgomery -

  8. hahaha! I love it. A Craigslist mention!

    I don’t know who is worse…the RIAA or the people who want to take Cookie Monster, blame him for obesity in children and make him eat veggies and change his trademark song. My vote is for the overboard political correctness. Forget those Free Winona (Ryder) or Free Martha (Stewart) shirts, it’s time for one that says Free Cookie Monster.

    Wonder if the RIAA would come after me if I tried to download “C Is For Cookie”

    Comment by Amy -

  9. Mark, although you have a point, your post is misleading. It’s not US$5 for all downloads you can get, those downloads are heavily DRM-ed. you have to pay to Yahoo additional US$.75 for a “clean” burnable song. That makes a huge difference.

    Comment by I.T. -

  10. Mark, how can you be so right on an issue like this and so wrong on the issue of digital TV?

    You are a walking contradiction.

    Comment by Difster -

  11. You said…
    “the introduction of Yahoo’s Music Unlimited Service sets the new marketvalue for all the music you can download in a month…5 bucks.”

    True but irrelevant – simple marketing gimick. I made a post on this recently ( The relevant valuation is 5 bucks for all the “NEW’ music you will “consume” in a month. And let’s face it that’s about the right price for many consumers: spend 60 bucks on new music a year on average. As we get older “new’ music competes with the “OLD” music that we still like to listen to, so we will consume less and less music as we age. It’s not about becoming – uncool – though I know my 3 month old son will ventually disagree with that statement in 13 years, it’s about getting our life’s quota filled up with music. We only have so much time in our lives to listen to music. Sorry folks you will NEVER listen to 200,000 (I’m being very generous with that number) different songs in your lifetime let alone a million. Not going to happen.

    Comment by David Gratton -

  12. Wow, I wasn’t even aware of this. But it’s about time.

    Reasonable pricing. What a novel idea.

    Comment by Charles -

  13. The horse is so far out of the barn that the barn has been torn down, the farm sold, and a “new urbanist” development has been built on the lot.

    I sat through a ‘Town Hall’ style meeting with the RIAA in Bloomington (at IU) in 1999 (!) and we’re still going round-and-round on all this.


    How long does it take to digest all this? We’re still fighting the internet and it’s 2005. They’re still trying to make the boogey man go away.


    Dave Johnston
    (fellow Weblogs, Inc. contributor)

    Comment by Dave Johnston -

  14. I signed up for this service as well, and have been using it quite a bit (I use it at work and home…i listen to an album every day + “radio”). All-you-can-eat music for 5/month…i see value in that.

    There’s a ton of “radio” stations (commercial free) that can be customized…all high quality and the ability to click and add (most) songs to your music collection when you hear them.

    The music player is kinda sketchy right now (its in beta), but all the files are WMA and playable via WinAMP or WiMP. The DRM aspect sucks…i move PC’s quite a bit and its just a pain. However, the music player has a fully plugin-izable API and is fully skinnable.

    What pushed me to click the “buy” button was the post by Ian Rogers. I read his Yahoo blog post, he works for Yahoo now…but was on the original WinAMP team and those guys get my respect (mucho props to Justin Frankel), they “got it”. Ian is an IU grad as well, so how can you go wrong with that ;).

    Comment by Josh J -

  15. Interesting comments as always, Mark. You are always enlightening me.

    Let’s Go, Mavs. Take game five in Phoenix!!!

    Comment by Glen Wilson -

  16. Mark,
    I think you’re right, the cheaper it is to download music legally, the less RIAA will be able to bring these huge cases against individuals.
    Some downloaders eventually buy the music after listening to it for a while, and some never intended to buy it whether they downloaded it or not.
    A side result of downloaded music would be new fans for live concerts, where most artists really make their money. If you have fans able to afford going to concerts, then the artists aren’t going to starve.

    Comment by Ryan Scott -

  17. one could sell insurance covering settlements up to let’s say $5000.

    10,000 cases/year in the US for 16 mil leachers, or $3/year for leacher

    such insurance is 10 times cheaper than Yahoo subscription service

    Comment by lary -

  18. I love the idea of all you can eat music. I also love my Sirius satellite radio.

    Comment by tv jabber -

  19. Lets say the Average Lifespan of People Alive today will be 80 years.

    80 years X 12 Months = 960 Months
    960 Months X 4.99 a month = 4790.40
    4790 / 17.00 Avg price of a CD = 281 Disks

    I own over 281 Disks so I have already paid more for Disks than what it would cost to have an unlimeted amount of music from yahoo for my lifetime.

    I see this as proof enough to sell all my CDs which should pay for yahoo for a long time.

    Comment by Mark -

  20. To #62:I don’t fileshare myself (don’t listen to much music actually..), but the people that do support it, it’s not about “stealing” music.

    It’s about replacing a totally crappy cultural exchange system (radio) with a top-notch high quality cultural exchange system (P2P). People still buy albums to “reward” the artists taht they like. It’s as simple as that. At least the ones who would have bought the CD. The ones that are happy just listening to it on the radio? They’re never going to buy your stuff anyway.

    P2P is NOT competing with the RIAA. P2P DOES cause problems for the labels, but those problems are due to the exposure of rare and obscure music that often times are only found in used CD shops. Which is a very bad thing for them. And as well legally THEY CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT.

    P2P is competition for Clear Channel. End of story.

    Comment by Karmakin -

  21. At last music is getting to the people at a reasonable price. CDs will in time be nothing more than the loss leader for the DVD, concerts etc.

    Comment by paul scheider -

  22. I’m not sure I like the idea of renting music, like Yahoo is proposing. It’s nicer just to own it and be done with it.

    Comment by Alex -

  23. Mark,

    If there were an Oscar for blog entry of the year, “Yahoo Forces RIAA Staff Cutbacks…” would be walking home from the Kodak Theater with a golden statuette. It would be awesome to see the faces of the Hollywood Big Money Tongues when you got up onto the stage and gave props to EFF, Creative Commons and all the enemies of “Piraphobia”!!!

    I think the only thing more entertaining might be seeing an Orrin Hatch/Eminem duet at half-time of tonight’s Mav’s game in Phoenix!

    Comment by Pelo Rojo -

  24. #27 – Artists do NOT get royalties from Traditional Radio Airplay unless they are the original songwriters. They DO, however, get royalties from Internet Radio and Satellite radio stations. FM has been getting special treatment since it’s not “Digital”, but I’m curious to know what will happen when that moves into the Digital realm as well.

    Comment by Jason Skidmore -

  25. $5 a month is just another dimension, if one remembers RIAA lawsuits. It’s time that the spook ends, and in Europe, everybody seems to wait for the RIAA to “calm down”.

    (Go Mavs.)

    Comment by Jens Meiert -

  26. Why is the major labels’ failure to adjust their outdated business model in a user-friendly way our problem as consumers? Because they have the billions you sheep spent on the ‘Britney Spears’ and ‘Nsync’ of the world to pay off capitol hill and force legislation that stifles creativity and innovation.


    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  27. This $5 a month Yahoo! service would be a good starting off point to argue for a statutory fee on broadband services, which, once implemented, would allow for unlimited, DRM-less, downloading and sharing of music.

    Make everyone pay, but eliminate all roadblocks to full access to music.

    Comment by A_B -

  28. great analogy blog mav, $5 per month fine to carry a controlled substance. I love it.

    Not that I am a RIAA apologist or anything but the RIAA does do some good things. Like for instance, in my city, Schenectady, NY, the RIAA paid a visit to independent bodegas (quikie-mart styled convenience stores) as part of an investigation into dvd/cd bootlegging. Essentially the bodegas openly sell copyrighted materials without license. You can read about the investigation here,,b=cc,v=display,m=1115283736

    I would have to say I think this is an appropriate function of the RIAA.

    Comment by Earle -

  29. Interesting article, but just remember, with Yahoo and all other subscription services, you are just renting the music – you never “own” it. If you stop paying your $5, “poof!” bye, bye music.

    That’s not necessarily bad, it is what it is. One of the things it is, is restrictive. That music is not very “portable”. It’s HEAVILY DRMd. Try burning one of those songs to a CD. No? Ooops. Thanks, but I’ll continue to buy CDs and download from iTunes.

    Currently all subscription services also only have songs in the inferrior WMA format held my the world’s largest monopolist. So what you get is music that works only on Windows and some WMA players – if they work properly… No burning to CD, no iPod, no Linux, no Mac, no MP3 CDs or MP3 portability, no archiving, no distribution to all the PCs you own/use, etc. Doesnt’ sound like that good of a deal to me.

    The $5 monthly service however is a really good, inexpensive way to discover new music. If you find a track you really like, then you can always turn around and buy the CD or purchase it from iTMS.


    p.s. Let me make some pointers before ya’ll post comments on this:

    1. Yes, iTunes is DRMd too, but it’s not so restrictive – it’s only designed to prevent mass copy/distribution. Once you buy a song, it’s yours to keep, and it won’t expire.

    2. Yes, the RIAA behaves stupidly. But there is good reason to protect copyrighted material. They just need to be smarter about it, and learn to embrace the internet, cause it’s not going away.

    3. Yahoo doesn’t solve the problem with copyright infringement or stealing of intellectual property. They’re just another music service, and in my view they’re not at all mutually exclusive to other services. You can have your Yahoo! and others too!

    Comment by Don -

  30. Interesting comments and MIGHT just be convincing IF the purpose of copyright law, and the lawsuits that enforce it, were to compensate creators (and the companies who buy the creators’ rights from them) for their losses. But it is not. You get just the same copyright minimum damages if you didn’t lose a penny, much less if you lost $5 a month. Actually, you’re still entitled to the minimum damages under the statute, even if you MADE money from the infringement. Copyright lawsuits are filed all the time in cases where there is no economic loss — creators are still entitled to keep other people from making unauthorised copies of their works. It’s their right. It’s as simple as that. When you violate that right, you pay damages. That’s to keep you and all others similarly situated from doing that again. It’s the same in all European countries as well (I’m writing from Rome). There is no need to show ANY economic loss at all to win a copyright lawsuit. And the theories justifying these lawsuits are set out at great length in numerous learned treatises, which theories have convinced the legislatures of virtually all countries (check the membership of the World Intellectual Property Organization sometime). All I’m saying is that it’s going to be a big job to convince all the countries of the world that they have been wrong for the past 200 years in concluding that what artists do and writers create is worth protecting — regardless of the money.

    C Rubini

    Comment by Carlo Rubini -

  31. Don’t the music companies have the right to distribute their music as they see fit? No one forces artists to sign with a label. For every hit album there are lots more that don’t recoup their investments. Artists are not getting screwed – they are not assuming any economic risk – the label is the only party losing money should the album fail.

    Ask ANY investor if they would accept a deal where only the other party can lose money while you get to participate (even if in a small way) on the upside and see what they say. The only matter here is how much the artist’s labor is worth. But that is no different than a venture capitalist funding an entrepreuner and making a killing if it’s successful or losing most/all of the investment if it doesn’t pan out. I don’t hear this huge anti-establishment outcry over venture capitalists screwing the creative and brilliant engineer.

    Come on people – supporting downloading of copyrighted music isn’t about defending artists’ rights. It is about wanting to keep getting free stuff. I don’t blame people but you ought to call downloading copyrighted music what it is – STEALING.

    Do you really think that if most people can keep downloading music for free they will pay the monthly fee to get music which has DRM on it? (Free and owning outright) vs. (not free and only renting).

    Comment by jsho12 -

  32. James 5
    Jas 5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
    Jas 5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
    Jas 5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
    Jas 5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
    Jas 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
    Jas 5:6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

    Comment by brett -

  33. Mark the key to the RIAA lawsuits is uploaders

    Im using a pay per download service called Peer Impact that is beta at the momnet also .And heres where the similarities to all the pther piad services end

    It is a pay p2p music service that has all 4 major labels onbaord already and get this Peer Impact give you a credit of up to 5% of the sale if someone uses your paid for content as a source of thier download.Now that is better than any half assed rental model or iTunes type stores.

    The major labels reqiure Windows DRM on the Peer Impact but it seems the indie labels they are dealing with are willing to offer unrestricted MP3’s for sale (hope the indies watermark the files to protect thier arses).Peer Impact have plans to host video. and software on the network also .

    Maybe you should commit some copyright infingement Mark seeing you have enough money to take the RIAA to court and maybe win.

    Comment by Matt -

  34. Great comments Mark. The RIAA represents the common tact that many organizations take: if you can’t beat em, sue em.

    Comment by T -

  35. I feel record companies had their chance to give music lovers lower CD and single prices or the ability to download music at a buck a song. My perception is that their greed and short sightedness kept them from being a part of the download / Subscription service future.

    Five years ago, if I wanted Green Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf, I’d have to either download using Napster etc… or pay 16 bucks for one great song and a bunch of schmaltz. Go forward a couple of years and I get my wish and download my favorite songs for a buck a pop. About a month ago, I decided to try the Napster to go model and I won’t be looking backwards (except for The Beatles and Zep; more on that later). I love this model of getting music; I look at it as buying an album a month. However with Yahoo really getting down and dirty, I’ll make the switch and save a few bucks a month. Look at it as a chance to listen to music you would never buy if it weren’t part of the service. I now know that Linkin Park is really cool, Mariah Carey is better than I expected, New Order’s new album is awesome, and rap still sucks. How many times have you bought an album with high expectations (Any U2 album after Joshua Tree and before How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) and were disappointed by the results? The subscription model gives you a chance to taste and keep or taste and hurl. Either way you win.

    My only gripe about the subscription model is the lack of coverage for truly classic rock bands. I don’t understand why The Beatles, most of The Stones, and Zep isn’t offered. Is it the big bad record companies holding on for as long as possible to make another buck on Hey Jude, or is it the bands themselves that refuse to release the rights to the Napsters of the world? Anyways, look out movie studios you’re next!

    Comment by Ed -

  36. What’s even better than this blog posting are the commments over on Slashdot. Over 500 comments and I don’t think a single one of them got the point of your posting.

    That being said, I’m signing up for Yahoo! Unlimited soon… call it a preemptive strike against the RIAA. 🙂

    Comment by Senor Pez -

  37. I have been a fan and subscriber to Rhapsody for two years now. For $10, I get access to darn near everything, and that’s all many of us want. I just want to hear new music, and it just happens to be that 80 percent of my music-listening time is at a computer.

    Save the disks. Save the space. Getting access to new music so I can try before I buy? That’s worth a measly $10 per month. I pay more than that per month for the Playboy channel! (And I don’t get to watch it nearly enough.)

    Comment by Ryan -

  38. Do you want the ‘old school’ Napster experience at $5/month?

    Get an audio recorder like Total Recorder to record the streams from the Yahoo service as they are playing. If Microsoft’s Media Player refuses to run or play these .WMV files with Total Recorder and their ilk installed on your computer then get a second computer, connect the soundcards together and record a DRM-free MP3 on the second computer whilst taking a small loss in audio quality. If you have high end audio cards with digital out/in in both computers, you’ll have PERFECT, DRM-free audio files on the second computer!

    DRM is a joke. Just look at DeCSS.

    However, TRUSTED COMPUTING is a clear and present danger to computer users everywhere. Do your part and DO NOT BUY computers with TRUSTED COMPUTING components in them.

    Ask the seller if the computer you want to buy has TRUSTED COMPUTING components in it. If they don’t know or cannot/will not truthfully say ‘No’ then DO NOT BUY IT!

    Comment by MusicFan -

  39. Only one little problem:

    iPod Users: If you’re an iPod user with a Windows-based PC, you can transfer music you already own to an Apple iPod using the Yahoo! Music Engine. Unfortunately, iPods are not currently compatible with the Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscription service.

    Comment by George McGown -

  40. I liked the post, but it’s .79 a download if you want to be able to transfer it or burn it…
    that would be agood idea though, a flat fee for unlimited downloads.

    Comment by Andrew -

  41. True, but only to a degree…the main problem with all of these services vs. the iMeash, Kazaa, etc… is catalog. For example, Yahoo has almost no Damien Rice music whereas Kazaa has hundreds if not thousands….I think it is better stated that “pirating” from a catalog with a selection equivalent to that of Yahoo’s should have a max penalty of $5…..

    Comment by Darrell -

  42. Mark, I got 3 words for ya brother…

    You da man!

    Comment by Robb Jones -

  43. I think some of the people (not all) complaining about the Yahoo business model don’t fully understand the technology. True, your are limited to a few portable devices at the moment, but that will change. Secondly, there are no limitations on where you can use the music if you use it right. You can use it on the PC, connect a PC to a stereo system at home, download to a portable player for use on the go, and use a wireless device to connect the portable player to your car stereo for use in the car. I believe that about covers anywhere you might go. I personally don’t get the hang up on “owning” the music, but I acknowledge that is my preference. But I do find I have so many choices at my fingertips and the price can’t be beat as I used to purchase 10 or so CDs a year.

    Comment by Blake -

  44. Neat…Can I set up a new cable network that broadcasts all of the Maverick’s games if I pay them the cost of a season ticket? Sounds fair to me.

    Comment by Anonymous Coward -

  45. For everyone who whines about “renting music” I wonder how much they have spent on CD players in their lives. I wonder when the next time they will buy a CD player is… and why do they not have any problem with investing in music that would all go away if they had to stop buying proprietary-standard CD players.

    Not to mention that you don’t have to have one or the other — i mean its less than half the price of one CD. Are they claiming they buy less than one CD every month? If so, then they really aren’t music lovers then are they?

    Comment by Mick 0 -

  46. Yahoo’s service is, unfortunately, limited. I’d love to pay $5 for unlimited downloads that can be transfered to the portable of my choice. In this case – that is either an Apple iPod, or my car CD player — neither of which are supported by Yahoo’s service (without paying extra for burnable versions). It also lacks support for platforms other than Windows. Until those are fixed, you can’t call the Yahoo! approach a universal download for $5/month mechanism. Would be nice though…
    I’d be happy to pay $5/month for an unlimited download license though — using clients of my choice on platforms of my choice.

    Comment by Charles Ballowe -

  47. I dont agree…. here is why:

    Comment by Kurt Moore -

  48. Hey Mark, this comment is actually for your last post on comment spam (CS). I believe that CS is both uncontrollable and inevitable. Entropy rules that every system will go to hell, blogging included. However, if you think about it, there are ways to help the process.

    1. federated id system – users can roam the net and then rate comments of other users. collaborative filtering can then be applied.

    2. no comments allowed – don’t give people an opportunity. but in your case, you might as well live in a silo out in witchita.

    3. use a system like slashdot – just hide anything below a user ranked threshold. again, what’s stopping spammers from perl raiding the system.

    Hey – now that you’re on the task, maybe you can help us poor bloggers out too.

    Comment by Kunal Anand -

  49. There are two types of music downloaders. Those that want ACCESS and those that want OWNERSHIP. People that just want access can subscribe to a service like Yahoo for $5/month (prepaid yearly) – however, this price is most surely going to go up. Second, those that want ownership will be pirating music until the recording industry delivers a reasonable price. The way the industry currently stands – if an artist could release their own music, minus marketing, packaging, label fees, etc…you could be purchasing digital music for as little as $0.12 a song! how bout it?

    Comment by Nick -

  50. Mark makes a great point concerning how this will effect the RIAA and lawsuits, however…
    Services like this are great for listening to the lastest crap the music industry is shoveling. For songs you listen to once and throw away. I’ll save the $5 a month and spend my $.79 a song from a service that lets me download my music how I want, play the music how I want and not one that takes all my music away when I stop paying.

    Comment by Matthew Gregg -

  51. If this was going to happen – then it would have happened with rapsody setting fair market value. RIAA have never been about fair market value – how can a single file cost them thousands? They’d have to prove it had been downloaded thousands of times. Nice try – bets it doesnt wash.

    Comment by Stephen W -

  52. I couldn’t agree more!

    Comment by Sarah -

  53. Yahoo’s 5$/month already exists in Canada. There is a tax on any media(CDs), ipods, double-tape-decs … and thus downloading is legal as long as it’s not for profit.

    The USA is kind of in the stone ages with the RIAA, corrupt lawmakers and unlimited lawsuits that translate into racketeering (pay a little or we hurt you alot)

    Comment by the dude -

  54. At $5/month, that would place the maximum world wide value of the global music industry at $360 billion/yr (6 billion x 12 months x $5/mth). That of course assumes that every individual (infants thru seniors) on the planet has an MP3 player and listens to what the RIAA pedals.

    More realistically the maximum value of english music would be $21 billion/yr. ( 350 million english speakers x 12 mths x $5/mth).

    Comment by Al -

  55. #41 – If you read some of my other comments you’d see that I already mentioned that, although not as thoroughly. I’ve seen the figures first hand and I know how much most artists get from these royalties…including the big boys. Like you said, unless it’s the biggest of hits, they don’t make squat because they have to pay the labels recoup fees for the advance. Hence they tour/clothing line/vodka endorsments/energy drinks/shoe line/acting roles/guest appearances on other artist’s albums (which they get paid flat rates for and only the largest, if any, will earn an even smaller percentage of royalties).

    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  56. Not quite, Mark. I think it’s all the music you can *stream* in a month, not download. Of course, I only think this because their site says that “burnable downloads” are $0.79 each, on top of the $5 monthly fee.

    Comment by Derek Martin -

  57. #25 – Yes, the artists do make royalties on radio play of their songs, on the sales of their albums and singles. Those royalties go first to pay off the huge mountain of fees the RIAA and lables charge the artist for things like studio time, creation of the masters, pressing cd’s, album artwork, distribution channels, and other assorted things. Artists create albums, hoping one of 2 things will happen. First, that this album will make it big. The realists understand that this only happens to a very small percentage of artists, and if they’re being honest with themselves, they realize that it probably won’t happen to them. Second, they hope that at least one song will get enough play time on radio stations, or will sell enough copies so that when they do perform at a concert, they will sell enough tickets/t-shirts/memorabilia to actually make some money to live on. A good article explaining this (although a bit dated) is

    Comment by Nathan Tenney -

  58. Oh and I just read a couple of comments, I still don’t think it’s right for the R*AA to sue good people like myself for more than they can afford when solutions like this are at hand.

    I won’t sign up on the Yahoo thingy because I live in Sweden but if there was an easy way of paying $5 a month here for all the music I wanted I sure as hell would do that.

    So why aren’t they changing things? Because they are making so over-the-top much money already on the current system that they don’t have to. The suing is just to scare us to stick with the old and shut up. Our downloading is a protest ladies and gents.

    Beside, almost everybody share their stuff here in Swe after downloading it. So a mp3 with a 1000 download locations all have been uploaded hundred of times? No that’s not it. The R*AA is closing their eyes and picking a random person to bug, so the rest will hide.

    We want to increase our life quality. But we don’t want to pay up the sums. They make more money than they can spend. There is a smart, cheap system that will benefit the artist. R*AA tries to lower our life quality.

    If we don’t put our foot down there will be no change. In the old days they chop of heads, we continue to download music. For that makes our voices echo.

    Comment by MackanZoor -

  59. #9 – Rights for a song rarely lie with the artist alone. There are an insane number of people who have to agree for something to appear on a electronic service. There are several artists who refuse outright, several labels who only do their own electronic services, etc etc. Once something is approved, the distirbution of money goes very much like the physical music world…everyone gets some sort of slice of the pie, but only the big boys get big pieces….

    #21 – Portable music devices that support the windows DRM are included in the $5/month. $.79/track is for downloads/CD-burns that don’t ever expire. If you’ve got an ipod, yeah, you’d have to pay per track…if you’ve got one of the Janus portable devices, it’s just as much as you can fit, no additional cost.

    #25 – New owners = new money to spend

    Comment by don -

  60. Mark for President.

    Comment by Bryan Partridge -

  61. I don’t believe the RIAA is fining for downloading music. They are fining for ‘sharing’ music.. or rather the ‘upload’ side of P2P, and not the ‘download’ side. They want to stop people from sharing, although people have since they could do LP->tape and tape->tape at home.

    If you were sued for downloading, then damages could more easily be valued. Download 100 songs, $1 each, damage is $100. The fines are high because of the ‘share’. If you share a CD ($15), and 1,000 people download it from you, the possible damage is $15k. Then each person who gets it from someone who got it from you, add $15. What Yahoo! is doing is a download, so I don’t really see how it equates to people being sued by the RIAA for sharing.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think the RIAA is scum. Also, music these days is mostly trash. I remember when I’d buy a CD and like 80-100% of the music on it. Nowadays, you’re lucky to like 30%. Who wants to buy something you’ll enjoy 30% of?

    I’d rather someone make a case that it isn’t illegal to share or download music… only listen to it. It’s not illegal to carry a pencil, but it’s illegal to stab someone with it. Digital music is just that, digital. It’s not really tangible, it’s 1’s and 0’s. Nobody is harmed or at a loss if you send me digital music.. they are harmed (in some opinions) when you use the music. After all, nobody buys a CD to not listen to it. Music has no value if not heard.

    Comment by KM -

  62. It’s a trap. By agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, you agree to let them look at everthing on your computer.

    Privacy Policy. Your personal information and information regarding your use of the Service (including any Content) may be collected by MusicNet, Yahoo or their licensors (including via automated means) in order to validate and authenticate information provided by you and to monitor your compliance with this Agreement and the Terms and Conditions set forth on the Site

    Comment by hyp3r -

  63. nice blog Mark, i wish more people thought like you do…

    Comment by roman bartocci -

  64. While I certainly agree with the idea of the article, there’s still more money they can milk from “pirates”. With p2p, you’ve distributed the files to people as well, so charge a person $5/month per person who downloaded from them as well. Of course, if they’re mp3s, they don’t expire. So, $5/month for the rest of each user’s life. Trust the RIAA to say they’re all 10 year olds who’ll live to 110 and that 10 people downloaded (parts) of the song from you, and then you’re up to 10*100*12*5 = $60K.
    They’ve never been suing for the value of real damages, just for money and media coverage.

    Comment by NoClue -

  65. #23, I like your sentiment but I think it’s a bit unrealistic. First, artists don’t make the recordings you hear by themselves. They make them with producers, mixers, and mastering engineers, most of which cost a good amount of dough to hire. Often, artists get fronted the money for hiring these guys by… the label! And then there’s the issue of promotion. You wouldn’t even hear about a lot of artists you currently like if it weren’t for all the money behind getting their names out there.

    I’m all for cutting out a lot of the industry crap that ends up screwing both the artists and the fans, but I think realistically the kinds of “power to the people” changes in the music industry that many people advocate will in essence change the music itself. Radiohead would have a hard time producing the kinds of albums they do if they hadn’t had label money to get them off to a start. And for anyone who’s a fan of more straight-forward “pop” music (top 40 etc… I’m not generally), that stuff is SO much a product of the current industry… some of it just wouldn’t be around. I don’t think Rob Thomas would have a solo album out if the industry wasn’t as it currently is. AND I think that would be awesome, but it’s something for the people who get turned on by the idea of having the whole Best Buy CD collection at their fingertips (90% of which is probably crap) to think about.

    Comment by Chad Wood -

  66. Finally someone that launches a service just like the one we wanted.

    Btw, your blog has been slashdotted.

    Comment by MackanZoor -

  67. Jeff,

    So the damages are not $5, but $5 per unique uploader / month.

    That’s still nowhere close to what RIAA is trying to extort out of ordinary Americans.

    Comment by tpp -

  68. Mark, The problem with your argument is that the RIAA isn’t suing downloaders. They are suing those who make music available for download.

    To those who bring up DRM being useless on file sharing networks. DRM combats a different problem: casual sharing.


    Comment by Brad Hutchings -

  69. You’re looking at this in the wrong direction… Consumer vs provider. If you’re sharing then the RIAA math becomes this 100 unique hits per month times $5 so you owe $500.00 per month.

    Comment by Lance -

  70. I read a quote from Dave Chappelle a few days ago regarding why he has taken refuge in S.A. He says that when you get rich, you dont change, but rather the people around you change. All the rich mans friends become yes-men, and no one will tell him when hes wrong. This looks to be how this comments section is. People foaming at the mouth to congratulate Mark on how right he is, and what unquestionable insight he has. Well, Mark is wrong folks (on this point). Marks insight into this scenario is that the RIAA is suing people who DOWNLOAD music, and this is completely false. The RIAA is suing people who UPLOAD music (Not a SINGLE downloader has been sued.. its true!) The people who partake in this (uploading) are distributing files to entire networks, and the RIAA has lost control over how they distribute music. (because as we all know, its all about CONTROL) The premise in court is (right or wrong) that the Music Industry is losing thousands per UPLOADER. That is, each song available for download is being downloaded by thousands of people, and each of those downloads costs the RIAA membership the sale of a CD. Thousands of downloads * CD sale = a LOT of cash. I dont understand how he believes I can share Britneys new single over the Guntella network (1.5 million people at last count: and only be seen as distributing 1 file, and shes only losing $5.00 in sales.

    Comment by Jeff -

  71. A downside is that the RIAA goes after the uploaders (or at least they claim to try to do this…). They could still claim that there were 100,000 downloads… which at $5 a pop is still a significant chunk of change for most folks.

    I’m not sure there’s anything here. It might be an interesting argument to make in court, but someone would actually have to go to court instead of settle and I don’t think the RIAA is picking on anyone with pockets deep enough to actually litigate.

    Comment by Mark -

  72. How much moeny do you think an artist gets in royalties from a CD or download, almost nothing. Especially if they owe the label for an advance, which almost all receive. Further, how dwindled is that royalty when your only paying $5 per month for a subscription service.

    Don’t be fooled by the RIAA’s scare tactics and propaganda of “fighting for the artist’s rights.” It’s all a bunch of crap. They fight for the labels rights. Trust me, I used to work for a major label, I’ve seen the figures.

    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  73. Hatch, will not, and can not, as a politician think like a business person. Cookie monster will fall off the wagon. My kids will get fat. My daughter, now four WILL try to convince me one day that low rise pants are fine. My son, now 11 will not mow the lawn as often as it needs it. The glass is half full or empty, depending on its status prior to your actions. Isn’t reality a kick in the ass Mark??!?!

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  74. “#9 – most artists don’t make a dime off of sales of physical music or digital for that matter. Why do you think a concert ticket is so expensive? How about a tshirt at said concert? That’s where 95% (or more) of artists make their money.”

    They do, royalties. Everything gets them money; radio airplay/album sales/etc.

    Some artists do get paid a salary but alot just have a minimum amount not a minimum for royalties.

    I’d also like to point out Musicnet, the service that provides Yahoo’s music was purchased by a venture capital firm before this deal, previously it was owned be a consortium of the big music labels. It does seem rather odd during that time I have known multiple people (myself included) contact musicnet with the aim of being able to distribute digital music files and nobody received a reply before the takeover. After the takeover, most replies are meant with swift and friendly replies saying how they’re always interested in new distribution partners.

    Maybe we should get CSI involved on this

    Comment by Adam -

  75. #23 good points. Some artists are already going this route in one form or another (Wilco), while others (Linkin Park) are currently fighting to be able to go this route.

    Remember right before Prince changed his name to…whatever that was…he wrote the word “slave” on his face? This was one aspect he was bitching about.

    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  76. I find it rather humorous that the recording industry pigs who have screwed more atrists than Wilt did women are crying the blues. In this age of rapid paradigm shifts, the record companies can no longer artificially controll the music business. Go gentle into the night, the world would rather watch Ricky Henderson attempt his long shot comeback then hear you cry that you are being stolen from

    Comment by Peter Mayer -

  77. Everyone makes valid points but here’s what I want to know. We understand that the RIAA reps the music industry and the artists are the real victims. Why not remove the middlemen? Allow artists to create their own music and have Yahoo/Napster and other like companies pay them individually for the music produced. We can still have the expensive concerts. What Mark is doing for the movie industry needs to happen to the music industry. All those music exec’s that have been reaming the artists of their true value now become jobless and can go to a training class on “How to use the Craigslist”.

    Comment by mycquester -

  78. #9 – most artists don’t make a dime off of sales of physical music or digital for that matter. Why do you think a concert ticket is so expensive? How about a tshirt at said concert? That’s where 95% (or more) of artists make their money.

    #6 – because he has a vested interest in digital tv.

    #17 – There are many ways to strip the drm AND convert the music you download from these types of services into mp3’s (which are still playable on every digital player available…even the ipod).

    #20 – I couldn’t agree more. However, I like to sign up for the Napster trial of the same feature, download and strip all the files, then cancel prior to being charged as a big FU to the industry for years of gouging.

    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  79. $5.99 a month sounds like a great deal except that you still have to pay .79 a song to move it to a cd, portable player, etc. I use most of my music on the go – car, mp3 player, plane, bike, etc – not at my PC.

    At this point, I’ll stay with my iTunes platform for now. (plus my ipod is a cool reptile green).


    Comment by David Burrows -

  80. One major catch is the annoying DRM. The RIAA will be reduced to making sure that everyone’s music has DRM support and we will be reduced to using sub-standard hardware. I for one refuse to use any DRM music. if im paying for it i sure as hell ought to be able to put it on whatever device i own.

    Comment by michael -

  81. Mark,

    Great post. Please keep ripping on the Music Business. I work part time in the biz. The utter inefficiency and absolute denial of technology from most in the biz never ceases to amaze me.

    The Yahoo Service is a huge step. But…Don’t you think consumers will still want to own their music long-term? or Will they be satisfied with renting it for 60 bucks a year?


    Comment by Matt ODonoghue -

  82. The service is much improved on competing formats but I still think it needs some fine tuning.

    Comment by Dan Carbrey -

  83. I think its great. When will the RIAA wake up and listen to what consumers really want. I could be wrong but, isn’t telling consumers what they want unamerican?

    Unfortunately for me I am ipod owner. That means i can get all the music I want on my pc for $5. However my handy little portable device I have to pay a buck a song to carry around. I guess that is what i get for my first Apple product.

    I hope that these types of services really take off and the gang at itunes changes its setup.

    Comment by Steven Gallo -

  84. I think its great. When will the RIAA wake up and listen to what consumers really want. I could be wrong but, isn’t telling consumers what they want unamerican?

    Unfortunately for me I am ipod owner. That means i can get all the music I want on my pc for $5. However my handy little portable device I have to pay a buck a song to carry around. I guess that is what i get for my first Apple product.

    I hope that these types of services really take off and the gang at itunes changes its setup.

    Comment by Steven Gallo -

Comments are closed.