Posted by Streaming Music | Posted in Online Music | Posted on 28-04-2009
Tags: Music, music downloads, On line music
To get an idea of where On-line music is headed it’s important to understand the history. Let’s think back to the time when music downloads 1st became popular. For me it has been spurred in the early Napster days. Everybody has been out there going crazy grabbing any and all music they could find in the absence of consequence. Then the RIAA came along and said “wait guys that is our copyrighted content you’re downloading.” Since that time the RIAA has been fighting an uphill battle to end copyright infringement.
After the early days of Napster and peer to peer file sharing a new crop of websites popped up offer ing legal music downloads. Even Napster went legit signing deals with major labels to offer unlimited access to their offer ings. In order to make this a reality the record industry had to come up with a way to protect their investment.
Along came digital rights management ( DRM ). New DRM technologies have been used to limit access to media. In essence as long as you’re subscribed to Rhapsody for example you could download and listen to as a lot of songs as you like. You could even play them on your mp3 player (excluding iPod and Zune). The DRM kicks in by restricting the number of devices you’ve access from and cutting access completely when you end the subscription.
In addition, organizations chose to run their own brand of DRM. This means that if you own an iPod or Zune player your choices are truly restricted. Apple and Microsoft do their perfect to force you into using iTunes and Zune Marketplace.
Over the final couple years things have vary d quite a bit. On-line stores including Amazon and Wal-Mart signed deals with the major labels to sell DRM free song downloads. They key here is that you’re paying a fee for each MP3 song you download but get the music in the absence of DRM restrictions. Even iTunes has started offer ing DRM free downloads.
Another challenge that faces On-line media organizations is the ISP’s battle to lower network traffic and thus lower congestion during peak times. The lack of network infrastructure, particularly in the US, is a large concern. Throttling traffic or charging customers for metered access as Comcast and Time Warner are currently testing could drive away customers. we no longer live in a world of text email and static Internet pages. websites now offer rich content including streaming audio and video, social integration and an interactive session ting for people to gather just as you would at your local/regional watering hole. Hopefully customers will voice their concerns and ISP’s will in turn expand their network infrastructures to allow for our ever increasing bandwidth needs.
So where does this leave us? I recall mentioning excitement about the future of On-line downloads prior to my rants. On-line music websites are looking ahead to the future. With the ability to download songs to PC, mobile phone or other web-enabled devices you will have access to the latest songs from anywhere at whenever. websites like eMusic, Amazon MP3 and Wal-Mart Music have shown that the DRM free music is the way of the future. The next step will be to figure a way for websites like Rhapsody and Napster to offer unlimited access to DRM free music for a monthly subscription fee. I’ll be the 1st to admit that this is no easy task but one that could prove truly profitable to the music industry in this ever increasing digital age.
The excitement extends beyond music as organizations like Netflix offer a large selection of movie downloads free to subscribers. We’re not talking about just watching on your PC either. With a session top box you could download films to watch directly on your TV. Industry experts predict that within several years you will not run to your local/regional video store to rent the latest DVD movies. Instead you will simply watch them whenever on demand via download. Alright so I could hear some of you saying yeah but how long do the movies take to download? I could tell you that with Netflix I could start watching about 30 seconds after the download begins. The rest of the movie downloads while I am enjoying the film.
In conclusion the future of On-line media is shining bright. Customer’s spend ing habits could help record labels and ISP’s accept that the future of music and movies is On-line rather than in record and video stores. The instant gratification of having access to millions of songs or thinking of a movie and watching it a minute later is enough to make me want to stop typing. So sit back, relax and enjoy what the future has in store.