The demise of Spiralfrog has highlighted the reality of the ‘music for free’ model. This reality is simple: music is not free and costs to listen to and own. The record labels knew this and hence charged Spiralfrog a premium for granting access to their content.
Unfortunately they did not have a strong enough business model and did not sell other services or generate enough income from advertising to be able to afford the music. This is interesting, as it demonstrates to consumers that the idea that there is no cost to music is phoney. Certianly Spiralfrog users now understand that there is a cost, because their service no longer exists.
However, one assumes that they will just migrate to another free music service such as Spotify. Spotify are clearly learning from the Spiralfrog story and has now announced that it will start to offer paid downloads via 7digital.
Record labels want these new, legitimate services, to exist but then charge such high fees from them, they end up not allowing these services to bed in and grow. Hence, it is impertive that new music web ventures have a range of income sources from day one of launch. Especially in a market where advertising income on the net is down from anywhere from 2-20% depending on the sectors targetted.
Meanwhile the Itunes music download service will start to vary the pricing structure of songs within its library. Some would argue that the timing is awful, as the industry as a whole is still struggling and we are in a recession, but the idea of increasing the COST of downloading music is interesting. Perhaps Apple is seeing if the legitimate download market is now becoming a way of life for many users rather than something to ‘play with ‘ on the side of their traditional music consumption habits. Accordingly they are testing the market to see if they can squeeze value back into certain recordings.
One thing is for sure, good music costs money to find, nurture and produce. Perhaps the re-education of the public has started?