Free MP3s... If You Sit Through An Ad

from the interesting-model...-but... dept

I've seen all sorts of business models involving "free, but ad supported" music, but none of them really seem sustainable. This latest one is different, but I'm still not sure it has a chance. Rather than the typical "play music and have ads off to the side somewhere" model that most take, Free All Music, gives you a chance to download DRM-free MP3s... if you first watch a video ad. They even let you pick what sponsor you want to let "buy you" the music (and then, that advertiser gets to put your user name in future ads, noting that you downloaded the music).

While this is a more creative use of advertising that probably has more value to the advertiser than the typical ad-supported music sites (where most people just ignore the ads), it still seems likely to have some serious problems. First, the site is betting that consumption habits on such a site would be the same as iTunes -- 15 songs over the course of three months -- and is looking for ad deals to support that. But... that assumes that as the price drops from $1 to "time spent watching an ad" consumption wouldn't go up. Without the monetary barrier, it seems likely that consumption would increase significantly.

On top of that, I don't really see how the economics work, given traditional models in both the music and ad industry. It's not that those models necessarily make sense (in fact, I'd argue neither make sense), but it's what both sides will expect. On that front, you've got the record labels, who are used to getting approximately $0.67 per downloaded song. Assuming that needs to be made up by the ad (and even ignoring any profit for the site), then every single ad shown needs to cost that same $0.67. Translated into traditional ad terms, that's a CPM of $670. Yikes. I don't know any advertiser will to pay anything close to that -- even if it's targeted and you have a half decent chance of the person paying attention. Most CPM ad rates online these days are in the sub-$5 area. Convincing advertisers to jump to a $670 CPM on an unproven model? Good luck.

Finally, even if it's "free" it sounds pretty inconvenient. The fact is that people do have alternatives, such as file sharing networks. While they're not legal, they don't require you to waste a bunch of time before you can get the music you want to listen to. I'm sure some people would use it, but not enough to really matter long term.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    lavi d (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:16pm

    Good luck.

    ...given traditional models in both the music and ad industry. It's not that those models necessarily make sense (in fact, I'd argue neither make sense)...

    This got me thinking - What the recording industry expects and what really is available are so far out of whack, it's mind-boggling.

    The recording industry wants you to sign up for online music (Well, actually, they would probably prefer you buy a brand-new CD), put in credit card/paypal info and then go through menus to select songs for download.

    Or, you can go to a bittorrent tracker and get entire discographies with a couple of mouse clicks and no personal information whatsoever.

    I just can't imagine how this is going to end.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:23pm

      Re: Good luck.

      "I just can't imagine how this is going to end."

      I can imagine it for you! It will end with the eventual arrival of a 'music industry' which would be unrecognized as such by members of the music industry of today.

       

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        Chargone (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 5:54pm

        Re: Re: Good luck.

        see, i was really tempted to say 'badly' in response to that line, because it was just such a nice setup...

        but your answer's much better :D

         

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    Irate Pirate, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:17pm

    It's still worth experimenting with though, no matter how odd or crazy sounding the idea they come up with is. I'd really love it if my cable TV service was free due to all the ads I have to sit through, which are quite numerable these days. As it is right now I have to pay for the privilege of watching those ads during my shows. It's really not hard to see why people are moving away from cable with it's "have my cake and eat it too" attitude.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:37pm

      Re:

      I could not agree more. It burns my ass every month to pay the cable bill when what comes out of the cable is something like 50% advertising.

       

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:27pm

    CPM

    This makes me think of something I read the other day. I suspect you've seen it, Mike, but TechCrunch ran an article by Shelby Bonnie (Whiskey Media CEO / CNET founder / former IAB chairman) advocating the end of the CPM rate, because it prevents people from experimenting with potentially superior advertising models:

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/25/lets-kill-the-cpm/

     

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    Nate, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    I don't think this is entirely fair. Certainly some of the music industry is willing to accept lower sums of money for the music. Examples include AmazonMp3's daily special, and Emusic's business model. Perhaps the number becomes closer to 30-40c per track.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:49pm

    An idea

    Schools need to better teach music production. Include it as a part of the current music curriculum.

    The technology is so cheap and easy, that it should be considered normal, and commonplace that kids exiting middle school be able to have a CD of their performance/s.

     

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      Glaze, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 3:59pm

      Re: An idea

      how are most schools going to afford the "cheap stuff" when they can't even afford to keep teachers on for band or orchestra or even straight music classes?

       

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    Yakko Warner, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Convenience

    Finally, even if it's "free" it sounds pretty inconvenient. The fact is that people do have alternatives, such as file sharing networks. While they're not legal, they don't require you to waste a bunch of time before you can get the music you want to listen to. I'm sure some people would use it, but not enough to really matter long term.

    I don't know about that. Granted, I never did spend copious amounts of time on file sharing networks, but I do remember trying to find something and having to wade through a lot of bad data (e.g., incorrectly or intentionally misnamed files); plus if you're talking a peer-to-peer network, the file download performance can vary greatly depending on who has the file and their connection speeds.

    If they can eliminate a lot of that hassle, sitting through a minute of advertising could be worth it, especially for someone like me who doesn't know Bittorrent like the back of his hand and can locate and download a file faster than you can think of it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    67ยข per ad view, huh?

    Man, the only one with the pockets to support that cost structure is Microsoft, and it actually may be worthwhile.

    Here's a sample ad called "Behold the delights of Vista".

    It's actually pretty well produced.

     

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    GregSJ (profile), Oct 1st, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    trueanthem

    There is another site that has been around for a 1.5 now that does something similar. Instead of a video ad before downloading content you get DRM-free content but with a advertisement at the start of the song. The ads seem to primarily be the artist introducing the song like a dj and saying brought to you by ________ advertiser.

    So far the site appears to only have independent bands.

    It's an interesting business model with a presumably cheaper CPM. While I expected the ads to be incredibly annoying I have found that they aren't that noticeable. It's not necessarily the answer but it is another model trying to make it work.

    www.trueanthem.com

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 5:15pm

    I can imagine it for you! It will end with the eventual arrival of a 'music industry' which would be unrecognized as such by members of the music industry of today.

    More than likely because it won't actually BE an "industry"...

    lol

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2009 @ 9:50pm

    After the Ad they should ask the user some questions about the AD to ensure they actually watched and listened to the ad. That's what I would have it do.

     

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    CrushU, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 2:55pm

    Sounds Good

    Sounds alright to me. Downloading from a direct download site is USUALLY faster than Torrent, especially for small files like this. And taking out the hassle of trying to find the file is cool.

    The deal-maker would be who's getting the profits off the ads. Artists? HELL YES.

     

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    FAM Beta User, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 10:03pm

    I've used it

    I'm part of the FAM private beta, and here's what I've noticed:

    1. Some of the ads are lame, some are really cool.
    2. They're only 15 seconds long.
    3. Once you get the song, and you listen through 4 minutes of music, you don't even remember having watched an ad.

     

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    Dave Kaplan, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 4:06am

    ads? why bother?

    I was looking around for free mp3 resources. This one doesnt have adds at all.. in fact you just use google. It scans local websites for hidden folders, through google. It can then find mp3s with 0 ratio. Enjoy

    http://www.frynge.com/music.htm

     

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