Sorry, But You Don't Compete With Free By Being Lame

from the try-this-again dept

A few years back, Napster decided that it's path to success would be in convincing universities to offer students Napster accounts for free. The students would get to listen to tracks for free as long as they were on campus. However, once they graduated (or even moved off campus in some situations) they'd have to go back to paying, even for the music they'd already received. For obvious reasons, that wasn't such a good idea and it was no surprise to hear that students basically ignored such programs at the universities where it was offered. The lack of success in the program has resulted in Napster putting itself up for sale.

You would think, then, that it wouldn't make much sense to offer pretty much the same deal, but along comes a former Napster employee (and a former Universal Music employee), with a plan that sounds basically the same. The company is called Ruckus, and it will let students download DRM-infected songs for free... as long as they're students. Afterwards, they'll have to start paying to keep those songs. It's an idea that won't go over well. It didn't go over well last time and it's unclear why the company seems to think students aren't smart enough to recognize the bad deal they're being offered, when it's much easier to just download things elsewhere. The funniest part of the article about Ruckus, though, is when the reporter notes how consumers probably don't care about such a solution, but that the service "found a sympathetic ear both with investors and music industry executives." You see, no matter how sympathetic the recording industry is to an idea, it's not going anywhere if it treats customers like criminals and offers them less for more.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dam, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 2:22pm

    Sure they'll pay.....

    right after the student loans, rent, and other living costs are paid, on a entry level salary, no doubt.

    Seems to me, this would make ex-students start downloading free stuff to replace their no-longer-free music.

     

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  2.  
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    Wes (profile), Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 2:27pm

    Seems likely to me that they may be raising money through the investors to fund something they know will fail, so that all the unspent money can quietly disappear and the investors are out a bit of cash.

     

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  3.  
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    Tarheel, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:11pm

    DRM Infected

    Despite the DRM "infections" as they're so aptly called in the article, the DRM on any Ruckus files are easily cracked with an easy to find file sharing/DRM breaking software found on the internet for free. Thus, all my hallmates have all their Ruckus songs transferred to their iTunes programs.

    Therefore, even though this "infection" is present, the Ruckus situation is apparently different from the Napster precedent.

     

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  4.  
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    XCetron, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:13pm

    I think the most likely thing to happen is that the students who actually use the program and get the music for free would just start downloading music for free after they graduated since theyre used to it being free. It wouldnt make sense to start paying for something you been getting for free after all those years.

     

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  5.  
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    Casual Observer, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:15pm

    Mike, really who cares.

    The songs being offered are free. The conditions are that they can listen as long as they meet the requirements. Once they fail to meet the requirements, they can't have the free stuff for free anymore anymore, but instead have to pay for it.

    NEWSFLASH: This kind of stuff goes on every day in one way or another.

    I can't get free towing anymore if I ain't a part of AAA.

     

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  6.  
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    things never change, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:30pm

    My University joined this program back in 2005 and no one uses it because as everyone else said, its only free when your on campus in your dorm, you can't take it anywhere!

    I did however here of a little program called tunebite.... ;)

     

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  7.  
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    Buzz, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    WTF @ Casual Observer

    Forgive my ignorance, but I don't know many services that give you stuff for free as a student but then ask for it back later. I wish my university did that with textbooks. I don't want those piles of junk once my courses are over. You either charge for it, or you don't. This whole concept of "being lame" as Mike describes is just a crappy way of sucking money off unsuspecting music-lovers.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:41pm

    Re: WTF @ Casual Observer

    They're not "asking for it back", they're simply taking away the priveledge.

    It's funny to watch everyone get upset at just about anything they view as unfair. Here we have a situation where someone is allowing you to download all the free music you want under the simple condition that you have to leave it behind when you leave, and you guys are bummed. YOU DIDN'T PAY FOR IT! IT WAS FREE!

    And really, you can't think of anything that your university (or your Jr. College) allowed similar to this?

    You never flashed your Student ID for a discount on anything around town or on campus?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Jabroni, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:44pm

    Ruckus is Awesome

    FairUse4Wm
    Awesome program that really makes Ruckus worthwhile.

    Mike, Ruckus us by no means a new idea, its been around since 2004. I personally agree with everything you have ever said about DRM except in this case. I love Ruckus and use it all the time. Through my university paying a subscription fee, i get to download from their 2 million song databse. Sure there are restrictions such as the songs cannot be burned to discs and must be "re-newed" every 2 months. But, through using FairUse4WM you keep the songs, just as if you ripped them off of a cd. I personally think this is an awesome service, and I am all in favor of DRM music, but for now this service works just fine.

    I am plenty smart enough to realize that this is an AWESOME deal. It's legal, free, and has a great library. Yes, i know that the FairUse4WM breaks DCMA anti-circumvention laws (so it's not technically legal). But Ruckus is awesome. I hope more Universities adopt this service, and you CAN download off of this if you move off campus, as long as you have a valid student e-mail, you're in. So just this once, Mike, you are WRONG.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Jabroni, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    Ruckus is Awesome Correction

    FairUse4Wm
    Awesome program that really makes Ruckus worthwhile.

    Mike, Ruckus us by no means a new idea, its been around since 2004. I personally agree with everything you have ever said about DRM except in this case. I love Ruckus and use it all the time. Through my university paying a subscription fee, i get to download from their 2 million song databse. Sure there are restrictions such as the songs cannot be burned to discs and must be "re-newed" every 2 months. But, through using FairUse4WM you keep the songs, just as if you ripped them off of a cd. I personally think this is an awesome service, and I am all in favor of DRM FREE music, but for now this service works just fine.

    I am plenty smart enough to realize that this is an AWESOME deal. It's legal, free, and has a great library. Yes, i know that the FairUse4WM breaks DCMA anti-circumvention laws (so it's not technically legal). But Ruckus is awesome. I hope more Universities adopt this service, and you CAN download off of this if you move off campus, as long as you have a valid student e-mail, you're in. So just this once, Mike, you are WRONG.

     

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  11.  
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    Causal Observer, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Ruckus is Awesome Correction

    Thanks, Jabroni. You made my point perfectly.

    It looks like someone is just trying to offer someone something nice and free of charge. Why must we try to find something wrong with that?

     

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  12.  
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    Newob, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 4:08pm

    Indian giving

    Well I don't know if there is a more politically correct term to call it these days, but when I was a kid giving people things and then taking them back because they still belonged to you was called 'indian giving.' But then that's the whole premise behind the music industry ... you bought it but, it really still belongs to us!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 4:14pm

    When I graduated I had to return all the books I borrowed from my university library. Was I upset? No. Did I start stealing books because I used to get them for free? I don't think so.

    If you delete all the music you downloaded from Ruckus upon graduation, what have you really lost, monetarily?

     

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  14.  
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    Jesse, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 4:29pm

    "Indian giving", while not PC, is exactly what these services do. It's a hook tactic, more akin to "the first hit is free."
    Casual: Free towing is a service; music is neither, one or the other, or both.

     

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  15.  
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    Shawn, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 4:30pm

    This is not Indian giving

    Not at all. I happen to be at a university that provides Ruckus, and probably the biggest complaint I have about it is that the interface sucks. You can't search within the actual program, but instead have to download via the web site. That part I don't like. But do I appreciate the service? Hell yes. I'm getting it for free, and as I see it, due to that fact I am only being given permission to "borrow" the music. Besides, as stated earlier, the DRM is easily removed via FairUse4WM. Not that I use that...

     

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  16.  
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    gee, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 4:58pm

    not new

    Ruckus is definantly not new, our campus offered it 3 years ago

     

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  17.  
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    Jon Healey, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 5:20pm

    Access vs ownership

    "Indian giving" isn't apt at all. Ruckus is about providing access to music, not providing the music itself. It's cable TV, not packaged DVDs of TV shows. The DRM makes the model possible, although obviously it's not effective enough to make it enforceable. It strikes me as a reasonable compromise to offer students the chance to listen as much as they like, free, to a catalog of a couple of million tracks, while trying to stop them from keeping those tracks.
    Nor is it futile to expect people to pay for something post-college that they got for free in the dorm. How many universities provide free broadband in the dorms? Free wi-fi? Free newspapers? Free cable TV, even? Does any student really think they'll get those things free after they leave?

     

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  18.  
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    Another Mike, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 6:44pm

    I absolutely agree with Jon. I work at a college and helped in the back-end stuff when Napster came to our campus. I've enjoyed Napster and know plenty of others - students, faculty and staff - who do, too. I find the service so worthwhile that I do subscribe - I stream tracks while at work and, on my machine at home, download them into the library and use my XBox 360 to play them on the nice audio gear in the living room. The DRM doesn't get in my way and being locked to using it on campus just isn't true (even if I didn't pay for a subscription) - you have to sign up (and redeem a promo code) from a valid IP address on campus but, once you've done that, you can then sign into any instance of Napster anywhere (so, if you live off-campus, a) use someone else's machine to sign up or b) bring your laptop to the library). At some point in June Napster accounts are somewhat crippled - if you want to continue using the full service over the summer, it's a completely reasonable price (like $25). Because most people stream the tracks from Napster, anyway, it's just a nice service to offer... who cares if you can't keep the tracks in the end? Do I really need to always carry with me all the tracks that I listened to 4 years ago?

     

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