Son of a b....
Let the record show that BMG music and I are not good friends. They have constantly harrassed me to buy twelve CDs for the price of one, then six, then ten (Read the fine print kids). They have also brought terror into the lives of many of my friends. They've been known to heinously overcharge for CDs they never even sent, and they just overall leave a shitty impression. I do not like them, Sam I am.
Which is why I was slightly less than thrilled to find out that they were buying out Napster. Sata-, err Bertelsmann also decided to reach into it's big bag 'o' tricks and pull out user fees. "What the fuck?!" I exclaimed. "$15 a month?! By CREDIT CARD?! I don't have a fucking credit card!" Then I noticed it said by July. "Oh shit, that's cool. I have 6 full months to rob them blind. Snatch and run, don't you know."
Ah, and don't call me a newbie whiner, or any such nonsense. I would happily pay for the current version of Napster. Hell, I'd pay $30 a month for the version now, but then I'm somebody who usually downloads ten songs every day, so I'd still be making out like a bandit regardless. However, I'm not paying jack shit for some watered down, limited, regulated, copyrighted, signed, sealed, delivered version that probably won't even have a third of the songs I'm looking for because all of the users will be gone. GONE, do you understand what that word means Thomas Middlehoff? Apparently you do not. So let me break it down into rich dummy terms for all of you big business, corporate types who fail to see the big picture (As if any of them would actually be reading this, they'd punk out and run after the parental advisory warning).
Now, I understand that Napster currently has about 57 million users right now. A number which will rise and fall over the next few months as people grab as many songs as they can before running elsewhere, like rats deserting a sinking ship. So what do the people at BMG do? They run a test.
"We carried out market research among 20,000 Napster users," Middlehoff said. "The willingness to pay is given."
Hmm... 20,000 you say? Out of 57,000,000? That hardly seems like a good basis upon which to found such an assumption. I think you'll need a larger sample. Not to mention, that they most likely asked users either 18 or 21 and up. Yet, Napster's largest fanbase isn't even old enough to smoke. Most teenagers don't have credit cards, or parents willing to add yet another bill to their monthly roster. I know my parents sure as fuck won't indulge my music fanaticism and pay for it. They won't even give me $2 a month to get my own e-mail address with our ISP. Which means that a good chunk of Napster's users are already turning to the many other free MP3 trading sites that are springing up out of the woodworks at every turn. Willingness? Oh please, don't try to bullshit me on that one. All it takes is one glance at the message boards, and you will see that those *for* the sell out, err fee-based version are vastly outnumbered by those who want Shawn Fanning, and every single person who ever worked at BMG (including the janitors), to die a slow painful death and burn in hell.
Now let's talk about song availability, hmm?
This article states: "Although about two-thirds (What?! I'm no mathematician, but last time *I* checked, 20,000 multiplied by three equaled 60,000. Not 57 million.) of Napster users have said they'd be willing to pay $15 a month to access the file-swapping service, according to a survey by WebNoize in Cambridge, Mass., they were referring to the original Napster. Bertelsmann may have to sell Napster Lite--a stripped-down version with only one record label's songs available."
Which basically means instead of being able to find those rare, live, classic, and obscure songs that so many of us love, the new Napster will probably be chock full of mainstream pop music bullshi, err goodness. Dare I say, N Sync? Christina Aguilera, anyone?
"This is not going to succeed simply because it's called Napster," says Ric Dube, an analyst with Webnoize. "The current Napster may have attracted more music fans than any other music site on the Internet, but if the commercial service doesn't deliver at least as much value as the current service, those users will walk away in a heartbeat."
No shit Sherlock. People are fickle, especially when their hard earned money is involved. And when you knock down Napster's selection several million notches to only songs owned by that particular label, it just turns into one big advertisement for that label. Am I going to pay $15 a month just for one big musical commercial? Not fucking likely.
How do I feel? I honestly don't care as much as I thought I would. I lived before Napster, and I'll live after it. You know why? Because I will still be stealing music one way or another. By CD burner or tape deck, it matters not to me. I also did not fall into crazed convulsions at the start of this fiasco and start sending out death threats. I'm aware that they plan to keep a free version, along with the "premium version that offers more features" or some such bullshit. Unfortunately, it will probably be extremely limited, unless the record company itself keeps all the old files on there to be downloaded. Because what the BMG people do not understand, is that with the way Napster is set up now, you need willing users to make it work. There are already too many negative things associated with it. Consider the varying download times, atrocious sound quality of some files, and the selfish joker pricks who cut you off with no warning. I'll be good goddamned if I'm paying crisp green cash to let people relentlessly mooch off my hard drive, or vice versa. The money is not going to the artists. It's going right to who it always goes to. These company execs are fucking the music industry in the ass, and they don't care. They don't even realize the impact of their actions. You and your minions/lackeys cannot stop technology Middlehoff. And do you know why? Because the government and the people won't let you. They'll just keep coming out with more and more ways around every barrier you make (which is a bit self-defeating really) until all your petty little lawsuits pile up and bankrupt your greedy asses.
I know that as soon as I get situated in college (preferably after I move off campus), I may be using either version of Napster depending on whether or not it still exists and is worth paying for. If not, I'll just use something else. Yet I'm hurt, because I loved Napster dammit. I gave my heart to it, and it turns around and sells it to the highest bidder. I really would've preferred Columbia House at least.
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