Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Virgin gets out of music [Lurks]

Following hot on the heels of Branson dumping Virgin Megastores it seems that Virgin Digital, some sort of lame unpopular DRMed music service I didn't even know existed is closing down. Fair cop, there's been a massive collapse in CD sales and that's lead to the destruction of whole chains of shop, pretty much now leaving only HMV - who of course devote just as much space, hell more space, to DVDs and games than they do CDs these days. It's the end of an era and they're moving with the times.

The thing that really surprised me though was that this lame DRMed music store thing ends up saying "If you have purchased tracks from the service then we recommend that you back up your music files – Information about backing up and re-downloading your tracks." This is, of course, precisely the reason DRM is lame. And what does their instructions for backing up your DRMed tracks conclude? Why to burn onto a CD and then re-rip as MP3 of course!

That's just priceless. At a stroke demonstrating the sheer pointlessness of this bullshit. Why wouldn't you buy it on CD in the first place, so you've got a nice physical back-up immune from the shop going bust, and then rip to MP3 without any loss in audio quality from transcoding? You fucking wouldn't. Or you'd just go and warez the damn stuff because it's so easy.

So in one sense the death of bricks and mortar CD shops is inevitable but on the electronic side this just crashes into the whole issue of music publishers not having any clue. I find myself having to spell it out for them yet again. If you sell an album, in high-quality MP3 format, and I want that album and you're selling it for LESS THAN THE CD, then I will buy it. Otherwise I'll just go and download it from somewhere.

No fucking around. Flog it on a music service with paypal or google checkout to make it all nice and fast. £5 for the album, click bosh you've got £5. You've made it easy for me to do, just as easy as warezing it but it's clearly worth money to me because I like the artist. So I'll pay. Five quid is, just to clear it up with your accountants, rather better than zero quid. It's a numbers game and the object of the excersize is to leverage the huge audience you potentially have with a high degree of conveinience. Running around trying to prop up the unit prices of albums just doesn't work any more, it's fucking over. We wont pay a tenner for a fucking CD any more, deal with it!

But we DO listen to more music than we ever did before. So start thinking how to take a reasonable slice of action for delivering a service that we want. Just like any other proper business.


  1. I buy quite a bit of music, and could not tell you the last time I bought a CD to be honest?

    Im 100% itunes these days. I bought the best of Bob Dylan the other day in work, on the spur of the moment, as it was 9 quid. Now I have a different version of the same thing on CD, but I like being able to impulse buy something as its on my mind. I may torrent it, but if I see it at a fair price on itunes I have no problem paying for it.

    A great example would be that last week I bought the Amnesty John Lennon Album on itunes, as the morning radio pe0n was talking about it. It was 9 or 10 quid, and has 28 tracks [some good and some *terrible*]. But I have no bother giving money to the cause and getting a reasonable album in return. I have bought the last couple of War Child albums online for the same reason. This is where I have never bought something like that on physical CD!

    Thats two albums, and each for the price I was paying for beer at the rugby in paris on Friday :) Im fucked if Im paying 15 quid for a CD ever again tbh since I dont own a CD player [outside of computer], all my stuff is digital my living room stereo is an ipod music player :)


  2. Hardly fair though Vagga, no-one pays 15 quid for a CD now... well, no-one that matters. I've recently stopped robbing music and gone back to buying CDs. I just like to hold something, you know? And I never pay more than a tenner, and I seldom pay more than 8 quid. Maybe it's because I'm not into The Corrs or Britney, but I find online CD sales to be the solution to the problem. Rip it how I want it, no fannying around with DRM, an album cover to thumb through.

    Having said that, I've also, sometimes, been tempted by iTunes. For a one-off song that you fancy owning, it is definitely a good service. Can't really sniff at 79p. DRM is a problem though... well, not really. I discovered a rather lovely way of taking off all the Apple DRM, so I stripped the few songs I own and they play, and sound, brilliant on my Squeezebox now.


  3. Well, obviously some people are more easily pleased than others. I don't think 79p is reasonable for a track when it makes the DRMed download cost as much as buying a physical CD from a store at a price point which was always designed to make money when there was a physical package, a small amount of users and retail overheads. But the music publishing business did an excellent job of making sure CDs never went down.

    I think it's also absurd to suggest you should then have to pay 79p a track and then have to find some app to hack off the DRM so you can play the damn thing. I'm glad it works for you like, but it strikes me like taking the piss.


  4. Oh sure, it's not ideal and of course I'd rather it was cheaper and had no DRM. I wouldn't buy albums with it, because it's just not cost effective. But for odd songs, for me, 79p is about the highest I would pay without feeling dirty.

    More interesting to consider is the countless hordes of people who have an entire library of Apple tunes and an iPod, who have no idea at all that their ability to listen to their music relies entirely on their continued buying of iPods and use of iTunes. I would imagine in the next five years, there will be a consumer backlash as people realise that their new Sony Erricson phone won't play their belived Westlife back catalogue.


  5. Right, but the 79p per track argument comes up again. Oh you don't buy the album, you just buy tracks you like. Isn't that the same as acknowledging that lower price points DOES work since they clearly don't always sell an album. So surely you can justify flogging an album for a fiver because, well, it's probably more than the good tracks on the album downloaded at 79p anyway?

    I'm also thinking that artists would actually prefer you to have the whole album, even if you're not paying 79p per track for the whole thing. After all, I'm sure they believe that you'll come to like their other tracks on the album when you've given them a better listen. Isn't that half of the joy of buying an album at the end of the day?

    This approach just seems to ensure that the only thing that sells are instantly accessible pop singles. DRM issues aside, that doesn't strike me as being something which supports quality music in any way- as well as standing in the way of proper mass market commercialisation of music downloads (which iTunes, despite having the market virtually sewn up, is not).


  6. And I just don't get the logic either over here on this; anti CD-copy stuff has been trialed by a few artists but has been a resounding failure because it pisses off the bona-fide buying public. So what happens they take it off leaving the cd open foranyone who really wanted to copy musicto do so from one cheap cd player to another and flog it, as happens in many supermarket precincts, car boots and between friends and family. So it didn't work in the physical, why are you doing it in the virtual. Here you only need a handful of HQ original rips for them to spawn across the whole of the interweb by torrents and those can be generated...from original cds......(or yes definitely from people who have ripped the DRM off). It's just pointless.

    The people who leech will leech whatever you try and do. The imperative is to make the bona fide market as easy and market-priced as possible. Remove the pointlessness and while you're at it, can we get over the 1990's issue of lossy compression. Lossless. Nuff said.


  7. Seems have seen the light. 256K VBR according to the FAQ, which is easily good enough for my "old-chuffer ears"(tm) but needs a US billing address.


  8. Fuck me, that's superb. The prices are a bit much still but shit, that's the best offering yet. The US billing bullshit, sigh. What's the bet when it launches on it'll be a quid a track?


  9. That amazon mp3 offering looks spot on in dollars, good price per track, a great discount for buying the album (Look at The Wall, $17 cheaper if you buy it as an album than per track), good bitrate, easy download system, no drm and most importantly your download isn't locked to an Ipod for the rest of its life, this is mp3, it'll go on your ipod AND your other shite. This is exactly what we've been braying for for ages.

    Like lurk said, they'll probably piss on us with the dollar pound conversion for the UK edition.