Shewbox.org

sub specie aeternitatis

Letter to Online Music Stores

March 31, 2005

Dear iTunes/Napster/Rhapsody/name your typical online music store/RIAA:

I have money in my pocket that I want to spend, legally, on online music. I am your potential customer, cash in hand, ready to plunk it down into your digital stores in exchange for music delivered the way I want it. But there is a problem here. You don’t offer all the music I want, and none of it is packaged to my liking. And did you know, that if you were to offer these thing I want, I would be happy to spend my hard earned money to consume that intellectual property? What should you change, you ask, to appease this lonely potential customer?

Why should I pay $10 for an album that is LESSER in quality than that which I can purchase on a CD (which, in case you haven’t noticed, hasn’t improved in the last 20 or so years)? Not only that, but I am disallowed listening to the music I purchased in situations and formats other than the ones you say I can. I grew up buying cds, and trust me, if I have more freedom from a physical media than from a digital one, then something isn’t quite working. Charging less for compressed audio that isn’t so weighed down with DRM is more appetizing since it gives me, your paying customer, more bang for his buck and more freedom with his purchase. If you want to charge me $10 for a full digital album, an option for lossless audio would be a smart choice, since some people are a bit finicky with their digital music.

But actually, now that I think about it, there is one online music store that I LIKE buying from. Magnatune gives me a full album in a lossless format with no DRM for less money than you do. They may not have the huge portfolios of intellectual property that you do, but I get music packaged in a way I like, not to mention I know the artist gets a fair share of my money. You have a big advantage over little Magnatune with your big selection of music, but if you give me such a poor deal, I may just save all of my money for a service I like.

So I guess what my little rant is all about is this: you have music I’d like to purchase, but if you keep trying to sell it the way you are now, you’re going to get very, very little of it. Sometimes being a little less controlling can produce more profits. But then again, I’m just a little drop in the bucket compared to your annual cash flow. And if you care so little about your own artists, then you probably couldn’t care less for my opinion. You current business practices, after all, do help little labels like Magnatune, so go ahead, keep it up. You may just be digging your own hole.

Sincerely,
A Potential Customer