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May 12, 2005
Yahoo! Jumps! Into! Music! Game!
(sorry, can't help the exclamation thing.)
When iTunes first debuted I pointed out that Apple missed an opportunity to undercut other services on price. In a way they did offer a cheaper alternative by dropping mandatory subscription fees, but Apple's motto has always been "We'll make it good; someone else will make it cheap." This was true for the Mac, for digital music players, and for online music services.
Now comes Yahoo! Music Unlimited (beta) with the "we're cheaper" philosophy. For a monthly priced USD7 or $5/mo if you sign up for a whole year, you get unlimited streams out of a 1 million+ song catalog. (Brief news coverage here on Market-day.net)
Dowloading is also possible, for an additional $.79 per song. The downloads are touted as "burnable" but the site is extremely cagey about formats. My guess is that what they're selling are Windows audio formats because their link for players you can use goes to Windows' "Plays For Sure" page. The iPod question is also a bit confusingly answered. It appears that what they're doing will work with a Windows-linked iPod even though that's not on their list.
The DRM is even more confusing for end users, as you can read the following two sentences only a couple paragraphs apart:
Send a song to other subscribers easily
Yahoo! Music does not permit copying or transferring music files to other users.
Presumably "sending" is different from "copying" or "transferring" but the page doesn't even come close to explaining how. Nor why I should care.
I confess I don't see anything here that I'm willing to try to plow through, even for the admittedly throwaway price of $5/month. I can get free streams now from aggregators like Shoutcast or specialty services like Digitally Imported. And if I'm saving 20 cents per download I'd need to make 25 downloads/month just to break even with iTunes' prices.
So! Much! For! Cheap! Is! Everything!
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