Feb 3, 2005

do the math

Am I the only one that is in the least bit interested in Napster's new service? Seems everyone has this inherent bias against renting IP. But in reality we do it all the time. We go to movies and watch cable and pay for content (magazines, websites). No problems. But mention renting music or software and people just go off the handle.

What's striking about this is that most of these people seem like techy (read above average IQ, rational) people. But this is an irrational perspective. And if people like this can fall for it then it's not surprising people get taken by spam and so forth.

Look at it this way. You buy a piece of software - let's say Microsoft Outlook. I don't know what that costs; maybe 80 bucks? How long do you use it before you get something else? Maybe 4 years. So what if you could rent it for $15 a year? Why wouldn't you do that?

Now let me do my music calculation. I have approximately 1,000 CDs/records. Let's say I've spent about $10,000 over the last 20 years on music (eeek!). Napster is $15 a month or $180 a year. $10,000/$180 gives me 55 years or so of listening to as much music as Napster has. At 90 I'll be dead or have no hearing. Even better I can listen to every piece of music that exists right now as opposed to slowly building up my collection over time, $15 a month. Well not exactly. This will depend on how many songs Napster has. My only concern is they won't have much that I will like. Sorry Britney.

But my point is people don't even seem to stop to make the calculation on whether this makes sense or not. They just dismiss the idea outright. I personally would prefer to have more IP distributed like this. Because the benefit is I have a huge selection of choice and I can cut the service whenever I want. How many CDs have I bought where I realize a) it sucks or b) after a few years of listening I don't like it any more. I don't listen to a ton of the CDs I bought back in the late 80s. Maybe 20-30% of my collection I listen to once in a blue moon. Hell I drop $180 on some days just to try out new music I've never heard of. There are tons of classical and jazz CDs that I would now give at least a solid listening to. A bunch of no-name electronica and alt rock I could easily hear. Now I could listen to a whole year of music I would never listen to, cut the service, and buy the stuff I liked. It would still be cost-beneficial for me to do that.

This probably doesn't make sense to everyone but I like idea of all these music stores - brick & mortar store, pay per song online store, rent online store. As a plug I'll also mention Bleep which has higher bitrate songs, no restrictions on the music, and decent prices on tons of bands I like.

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