OK, so a few major record labels have decided to embrace the peer to peer file sharing format, however they fail to embrace the reasons why the format has been so successful. That is, it’s been free.
According to an article on CNET and Wired News, Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group have hooked up with Wurld Media and agreed to distribute with their music via Peer Impact, Wurld’s legitimate p2p file distributing service.
"Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group have signed a deal, announced this week, with Wurld Media to provide music for its peer-to-peer service called Peer Impact. The company is also negotiating with EMI to add its content.
Peer Impact is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of 2005. The company also plans to offer a legal way to download movies and games in addition to music, according to Wurld Media CEO Greg Kerber. ‘We hope to be the consumer's one-stop platform for digital media,' Kerber said. 'If it can be digitized, we can monetize it.’"
They have the program set up to allow consumers to download files from one another, utilizing the p2p format, yet still charging a dollar a song.
"The download itself is free and resides on a user's desktop. Unlike Kazaa and other P2P services, Peer Impact will distribute only licensed and public-domain content. It will seed the network with its authorized files, and customers who pay for the track will download it from those who have already paid for the file.
Like iTunes and Napster, songs will cost a dollar each. The company is also looking at offering subscription services. The catalog will exceed a million tracks by the end of the first quarter, Kerber said."
Something's not adding up here. What they are offering is the ability to download music via a peer to peer network, like Kazaa, while still being allowed to pay for it. The seed files may be of better quality and the risk of downloading a spoof greatly reduced, however, I think I’ll pass. I already have iTunes with a catalog greatly exceeding that of Peer Impact. And apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way.
"Von Lohmann [an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation]said at this point there's no real benefit to the new service from the customer's point of view.
‘Basically you're picking the pockets of your customers for the same price that they can get on iTunes,’ Von Lohmann said. ‘Your customers are paying for your bandwidth and your storage.’
Instead, the recording industry should be looking to services like Weed and Altnet, which put authorized files on open networks that people are already using..."
Weed seems like a viable alternative. I posted last week on the Weed service and it's potential benefits to the music community. It allows for free downloads and three free plays, after which the user is prompted to pay for the song. This would allow for the sampling of music and still guarantee that copyright holders get paid for anything beyond sampling. Right now only independent labels and artists are taking advantage of this service.