The Download Dilemma

Apple may have been onto something when they started charging $.99 cents on a per song basis. Now you can download your favorite artist?s songs legally without having to worry about the RIAA breathing down your back. With more than 5 million song downloads in eight weeks on the Apple iTunes site, competitors Real Networks and even Microsoft have their sights on similar business models.

It could be argued that Real Networks was closely watching Apple?s new product to see whether it would be a success or not. Shortly after Apple launched their new iTunes music store, Real Networks quickly acquired and launched their new Rhapsody product featuring $.79 cent ?burnable? downloads. While Apples product allows you to solely download individual songs, the Rhapsody service from Real Networks gives listeners more music options for a subscription price.

And last out of the gate is the thundering Microsoft which is rumored to be starting their own music subscription service compatible with Windows Media Player. It was announced back in January that Microsoft teamed up with Music Choice Europe to provide Windows Media Player 9 as the preferred player for the Music Choice Europe subscription service. Surely Microsoft is watching to see how all of these business models work before planning their own attack, but will their subscription services and music downloads be in the popular MP3 format or Microsoft?s own WMA format? We will have to wait and see.

While all of these services sound good in theory, how will they affect the consumers purchasing habits? Will music artists be compensated on a per song basis versus a per album basis and where is the motivation to create a 15 song album if you know only a few songs will be radio hits?

As consumers we can now buy our favorite song without having to pay for a complete album which may or may not have multiple bad songs on it. The advantage to downloading music is that you can easily transfer it to your MP3 player or burn it to CD, there is no need to rip the song from the CD in the first place. Unfortunately for PC users, Apple iTunes 4 is not yet currently available, although Apple is supposed to ship a windows version of iTunes later this year..

In the long run I imagine a new industry of online music eventually being contained by the RIAA and all sold at the lowest bidder through the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Real Networks. Full music albums might go up in quality with the hopes of attracting more music downloads, or disappear forever because the artist decides to release one track at a time. Personally, the idea of paying to listen to online music sounds absurd when you have the choice to listen to the regular radio or even satellite radio. I think that Apple has hit the nail on the head by only charging on a per song basis. Listen to the music on the radio, if you like it then download it, there is no reason to pay for what is already provided free of charge.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Tune in to the best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.

Spotify is the best streaming service, but its competitors aren’t far behind

It can be hard to decide which music streaming service is for you, so we've picked out the individual strengths of the most popular services, aiming to make your decision a little easier.

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.

Throw out the sandbox. ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is a fully realized western world

Despite featuring around 100 story missions, the real destination in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the journey you make for yourself in the Rockstar's open world, and the game is better for it.

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.
Movies & TV

He created comics, movies, and superheroes. But Stan Lee lived for joy

Stan Lee was a creator, a celebrity, an icon, and beneath it all, a real-life good guy with all the same human qualities that made his superheroes so relatable. And his greatest joy was sharing his creations with the world.

Brian Eno sets out to change music (again) with Bloom: 10 World

We always felt that Bloom was a musical system that could be developed further -- it was as if we’d built a CD player and only ever released one CD. For this release, we’ve created ten new worlds, starting with a reimagined version of…

Can two operating systems coexist? The Pixel Slate thinks so

The Pixel Slate is a 2-in-1 device like no other. It’s not the most polished product we’ve ever used, but Google has laid the foundation for letting mobile and desktop software live side-by-side in peace.

Why commercials in Android Auto could turn your dashboard into a dumpster fire

Google announced some tweaks to the Android Auto experience, focused on making messaging and media easier, but I worry about the future of the platform. For better or worse, there’s a real chance our dashboards could turn into dumpster…
Home Theater

Will Marvel’s shows lose their punch if they move from Netflix to Disney Plus?

Disney could pick up the Marvel shows being canceled by Netflix, but the idea raises all sorts of questions. Is continuing Daredevil, Punisher, or Jessica Jones on Disney's own streaming service a good move?

‘Far Cry: New Dawn’ is a fresh, post-apocalyptic spin on a stale formula

Digital Trends visited Ubisoft's Montreal studio for an in-depth demo of 'Far Cry: New Dawn', the 'Far Cry 5' follow-up that's aiming to serve as both a sequel and standalone adventure in the sandbox series.