Author Topic: What would make you pay for music downloads?  (Read 9717 times)

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Offline eclassical

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What would make you pay for music downloads?
« on: March 04, 2008, 02:50:25 AM »
Hello!

In Sweden right now, there's a heated debate over illegal file sharing of copyrighted material. On the one hand, we have the content industry lobbying for prosecution of copyright infringement "pirates" and for censoring/filtering of the internet, and on the other hand we have promoters of file sharing such as the http://www.piratpartiet.se/international Pirate party and (more or less) http://copyriot.se/category/english/ unaffiliated http://swartz.typepad.com/texplorer/2008/02/denmark-and-pir.html bloggers who think non-profit file sharing for personal use should be legal.

Companies who sell digital content have been quite silent (with a few exceptions such as http://www.eclassical.com/avpolicy/avpolicy.html and http://www.theswedishmodel.org/eng.php) (first link is eClassical's response to the EU's questionnaire on Audiovisual and Media Policies).

eClassical thinks that the energy must be put into creating attractive music services and not into legislation, censorship, scare tactics (threatening one's customers?) etc. Otherwise there's a great chance that the industry alienates its customers and undermines the respect for copyright.

But what does it really take to have people paying for something that's available (albeit illegally) for free?

All feedback would be really appreciated!

Thanks

Rikard Froberg
Technical director etc
eClassical.com

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2008, 07:08:19 AM »
(Hi, Rikard!) I sometimes download music from Usenet and Rapidshare. But I am also a regular customer at eclassical. Why? Because I happen to like composers that have often been recorded by BIS... I wish eclassical had contracts with more labels, though (like Lyrita, for instance). Why do I pay? The music is instantly available, ripped at an acceptable bit-rate (for me), and the whole download process is dead easy. And it feels good to pay for what you appreciate. I can't always - there is too much I like, my purse can't keep up.

(No, eclassical isn't paying me to write this, guys!)
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2008, 07:20:19 AM »
Hi Rikard,
Well, my story is much trhe same as Jezetha's, in the sense that I don't mind paying for what I get, as long as I feel I'm getting my $$$ worth. As an example, your product of the week: in USA, that 2 disk set (Vivaldi Op 2) sells for $40 at Amazon because it is an import, I suppose. You sold it to me in good quality rips for $6. Let's see... yup, no-brainer!  And it is legal, so I don't have that to worry about, and I can download to my Sansa with no problem; all-around, this was a good deal.

An example of a bad deal is buying Naxos at Amazon. Let's see: CD with liner notes, brand new = $9. MP3 download, no liner notes = $8.   That's not rocket science to pass on that. Which is not to say they don't have some good deals too, like Harmonia Mundi where the CD = $21 and the download = $9.

Ultimately you are giving something up buying a download, which is physical possession of the disk, case and booklet in highest quality recording. So if there is no price break to compensate, then I'm not going to do it.

I do agree that cutting deals with more labels would only be a good thing. Harmonia Mundi would be a great choice, at least for me! :)

8)
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Offline eclassical

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2008, 12:14:07 PM »
Interesting thoughts, Gurn and Jezetha. More labels are on the way. Thanks for your answers!

It would also be interesting to hear someone who hasn't purchased from us (or any service, perhaps?) and their thoughts on what it would take to get them to pay for downloads (or even why they would never pay).

All input is welcome, and we don't oppose to file sharing per se. It's here to stay and we are just learning how to cope and compete with it and it certainly isn't for us to pursue illegal downloaders.

Rikard

Mark

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2008, 12:20:07 PM »
Rikard, may I please ask you a question? Is your intention here to conduct some free market research, or are you personally interested in the topic on which you've posted?

Forgive the apparent rudeness of my enquiry, but netiquette has long since taught me that it's generally considered bad form to 'seed' a forum with threads that are, or could be construed as being, commercially motivated. Not that I'm accusing you of such, I might add. :)

Offline eclassical

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2008, 04:09:53 PM »
Rikard, may I please ask you a question? Is your intention here to conduct some free market research, or are you personally interested in the topic on which you've posted?

Hi Mark!

Well, I'm personally interested in the matter, but since I work for eClassical.com - well, you might call it market research.

The question arose when I was discussing legal alternatives to illegal file sharing with one member of the Swedish pirate party, who claimed that the only reason or incentive for people to pay for digital music, was that we - the music industry - had imposed guilt and bad conscience on the consumers by bad mouthing file sharing.

I didn't agree of course, firstly because we never did talk down file sharing, and secondly because we believe there must be other reasons for people to be willing to pay for digital music than just a feeling of guilt.

Exactly what those reasons might be is what I wanted to find out by starting this thread. And I'd like to hear the views from not only people that are not customers to us because we don't know what those people think really.

I hope that answers your question!

Asking this in a forum where music in digital form is often discussed seemed like a good idea at the time, but if it's perceived as spamming, then I apologize and withdraw my question. I've made ten posts since May 20, 2007, two of which were new threads (this one and one about how to tag MP3s for classical music).

I hope that's not considered spamming, but if it is, then I apologize. I really wanted to know what motivates people to pay for something that's available for free, that's all!

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2008, 04:18:41 PM »
I hope that's not considered spamming, but if it is, then I apologize. I really wanted to know what motivates people to pay for something that's available for free, that's all!

I, for one, don't doubt your honest intentions. If you had been here under an assumed name and simply had been singing the praises of eclassical, it would have been different. But I know the whole Pirate Bay issue is big in Sweden at the moment, so your question appeared legitimate to me. And apart from that - people here can think for themselves. If they want to download, they'll download, if they don't, they won't. No technical director will have much power over them...  ;)
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Offline eclassical

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2008, 04:26:24 PM »
You are not "accusing" you are merely "Implying", well, let me be the bad guy here then, I think mr. "eClassical" (what a curious name for someone who is personally interested in classical music) is trying to promote his website by trying to highlighting the fact the music from his website is DRM-free, okay, we got it.
My name is Rikard, and that is clearly stated in my post ;) Not wanting to hide the fact that I work for eClassical.com (and therefore rightfully must be suspected of having a commercial agenda, however not a hidden one) made choosing that alias quite obvious for me.

Sorry if I mislead you!

But, whether people will download more or less from your website depend a little bit more than just DRM free, a lot of big name music sites are DRM free now, so it ain't exactly a rarity that eClassical uses no DRM. If he wants to make more money, get more customers, there is only one way, and that is quantity(there fore increasing costs, more risk-taking) or quality (APE, FLAC, lossless) of course either way he is going to have to invest more and make more risks. But, showing up once a while on a classical music forum probably won't get the job done, not to mention how annoying spammers are.

I too find spammers quite annoying and I'm sorry if I offended you in any way. I appreciate your views on how to attract more customers though. It doesn't quite answer my original question, but I'm grateful still, that you took the time to answer.

Of course it's no rarity to use no DRM. Perhaps wanting to discuss doing so, in the light of the debate on file sharing, is more of a rarity but if it's considered spamming, then it's obviously no good at all. But I honestly wanted to know, that's all.

Perhaps the moderators could help us draw the line? Maybe simply rule this as being spam and delete the thread, or move it to "Buy, Swap and Sell" which is of a more commercial nature?

Once more, I'm sorry if I broke some ethics rules here!

Best Regards

Rikard

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2008, 05:28:05 PM »
To clear up any misconception about Rikard's presence here, I personally invited him to post here. He had misgivings because he was afraid that his posting would be perceived as spamming. I don't happen to think it is. Perhaps some will consider it unfortunate that someone in the business of supplying classical music actually likes the product he sells and would actually care enough to try and provide better service. I know that isn't universally true, many (most?) record executives merely look at their product as just that, a product.

I personally save my ire for better opportunities than to waste it on someone who is trying to provide better service and get some questions answered about how people view his product...

8)

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Online drogulus

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2008, 05:59:24 PM »
     A few things that would make downloads more attractive:

     Album art, both front and back covers at 500 or higher, and liner notes in .pdf format.

     Lossless downloads in either FLAC or WMA (I'm assuming ALAC is not a choice here) should be made available. Which lossless format is not important if you offer album art separately. If you want to offer something like Chandos does with mp3s and WMA as choices, that would be a big plus. I don't know who actually does the compression and packages the extras, and I guess each label might do things its own way. But following the Chandos model would be the best choice for consumers, and the labels who understand this is how you appeal to the classical music audience will benefit.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2008, 06:01:57 PM by drogulus »
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Mark

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2008, 02:43:43 AM »
Rikard, thank you for addressing my concern.

I have been on too many forums, and have obviously grown old and suspicious of any new-ish member whose posts appear to be more commercially driven than matters of personal interest. As Gurn says, I welcome the fact that someone in your position is taking the time to engage with his company's customers; and as a user myself of eclassical, anything that any of the more intelligent members here can do to help you improve service and product quality ultimately benefits me - which makes me happy, naturally. ;D

I'm glad you took my question in good part, and let me welcome you here as I should've done before now. :)

Offline eclassical

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2008, 03:27:02 AM »
     A few things that would make downloads more attractive:
     Album art, both front and back covers at 500 or higher, and liner notes in .pdf format.
That's great input, drogulus! Thanks for taking the time to answer! The labels are yet very different in how suspicious and reluctant they are to give away things like booklets and cover art, but I think they are starting to get it! Some labels are much more liberal in this regard as the UK Signum label for instance.

     Lossless downloads in either FLAC or WMA (I'm assuming ALAC is not a choice here) should be made available. Which lossless format is not important if you offer album art separately. If you want to offer something like Chandos does with mp3s and WMA as choices, that would be a big plus. I don't know who actually does the compression and packages the extras, and I guess each label might do things its own way. But following the Chandos model would be the best choice for consumers, and the labels who understand this is how you appeal to the classical music audience will benefit.

Yes, the extras is pretty much up to the label, and some labels might want to offer extras but simply don't have it in [a unified and standard] digital format yet ;) but this will change, no doubt!

There are stores that offer FLAC and one example (via google since I don't want to be accused of spamming again ;) ) is below:

http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=%22compression+in+the+Ogg+Vorbis+format%2C+or+more+importantly+we+offer+lossless+files+in+FLAC+format%22&btnG=Google+Search

(It's not our store,  but we have fed them with some music - if you are allergic to spam, don't click  $:)  :P )

Excellent feedback, thanks! Lossless will definitely be the natural choice in a near future (although already available in some places!).

I really appreciate being able to get feedback from classical music consumers like this. At the same time the industry is accused for never listening to its customers, we may very well be accused of advertising and polluting forums ;) in trying to do just that, but it's great to be given this opportunity to get feedback instantly, so thanks for letting us!

Thanks Gurn, Mark, Jezetha and all the rest for understanding!

Cheers

Rikard

Offline Grazioso

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2008, 05:15:46 AM »
What would make me pay for music downloads?

First off, I don't believe or participate in file "sharing"--a sad euphemism for theft, both illegal or immoral. If I want something, I pay what the creator or seller is asking, negotiate a new price, or choose not to acquire it. I don't just take it under the deplorable assumption that my desires justify any behavior, even at the expense of others' livelihood or the maintenance of social order.

Secondly, at this point I'm unlikely to pay for music downloads since I prefer the sound quality and physicality of CD's. (E.g., I can browse them on the shelf, read concrete liner notes, etc.)  I have no desire to adopt a different format that will require extra work and expenditure (mp3 player, CD-R's, etc. unless I just want to listen on my computer, which I don't.)
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Offline eclassical

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2008, 05:43:18 AM »
@ Grazioso:

Thanks for replying! Every opinion on the matter is appreciated! I interpret your answer to the question like:

"Nothing would make me pay for downloads, I have no need for them", which is a perfectly valid opinion that I respect!

Would, like others have suggested, CD quality downloads that allow for you to create your own records change that?

Regards

Rikard

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2008, 06:37:43 AM »
Why would I pay for a download when I know sooner or later I can get the cd used on Amazon on Ebay for a fraction of the cost, in good condition, and with liner notes, back cover art, and a jewel case?

Offline eclassical

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2008, 10:19:03 AM »
Why would I pay for a download when I know sooner or later I can get the cd used on Amazon on Ebay for a fraction of the cost, in good condition, and with liner notes, back cover art, and a jewel case?

Good question! Of those parameters, the cost, liner notes, cover art and the jewel case, what is the most crucial to you? I.e., would you consider a download if the price was lower than the used CD but no liner notes, etc? Or do you need a lower price, liner notes and cover arts for a download to be even considered?

Thanks for answering!

Rikard

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2008, 10:26:33 AM »
Good question! Of those parameters, the cost, liner notes, cover art and the jewel case, what is the most crucial to you? I.e., would you consider a download if the price was lower than the used CD but no liner notes, etc? Or do you need a lower price, liner notes and cover arts for a download to be even considered?

Thanks for answering!

Rikard
Hmm, that's a tough one. Basically anything that is in print you can get for about $4-$8 on Ebay. Not sure how low you can sell a download and still make a profit. The thing is even if I can download the liner notes and cover arts and all I still need to print it out, using a color printer probably. And if I want to take the music somewhere (like in my car where I do most of the listening) I will need to burn it into a cd or put it into my IPOD. Everything takes time you see. It is just easier for me to buy a cd because everything is there already and I don't have to spend time doing all of that. So it is really a matter of convenience.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2008, 10:32:08 AM by PerfectWagnerite »

Offline Brewski

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2008, 10:30:40 AM »
Hi Rikard, I'm in the "don't download much" camp, and primarily it's a quality issue.  (The sooner a lossless format becomes the norm, I'd be more interested.)  I also listen primarily through my home system which (at the moment) has no interface to listen to downloads, only other media.  Just saw PerfectWagnerite's post, and I'm similar: it's a convenience issue.  I don't want to spend inordinate amounts of time transferring music from medium to medium.  And I do like the liner notes and cover art on CDs, too.

That said, I do listen to downloads of things that are not available in any other form, e.g., live concert broadcasts.

And welcome, by the way!

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Offline Sef

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2008, 10:39:02 AM »
What would make me pay for music downloads?

First off, I don't believe or participate in file "sharing"--a sad euphemism for theft, both illegal or immoral. If I want something, I pay what the creator or seller is asking, negotiate a new price, or choose not to acquire it. I don't just take it under the deplorable assumption that my desires justify any behavior, even at the expense of others' livelihood or the maintenance of social order.

Secondly, at this point I'm unlikely to pay for music downloads since I prefer the sound quality and physicality of CD's. (E.g., I can browse them on the shelf, read concrete liner notes, etc.)  I have no desire to adopt a different format that will require extra work and expenditure (mp3 player, CD-R's, etc. unless I just want to listen on my computer, which I don't.)


The speed of technology change makes it difficult to predict exactly what people will or will not be doing in the future with regard to listening to music. Personally I think that there will be a radical change in the way music is delivered to the end user. Technology has introduced a problem (file sharing/theft) and shows no sign of being able to successfully solve it. Perhaps classical music does not suffer as much from today's problems (that's a topic in itself that I'd love to delve into), but nevertheless a fundamental shift may be required by record companies/distributors/artists.

In the past the concept of a "smart" house seemed science fiction or quirky even. A luxury that only the eccentric would even bother with. I work in a small department of a manufacturing company, and even within that department I know a number of people who are playing with this kind of technology. Devices controlled by a central server, including music delivery, that allow the user to play what they like where they like, follow them around the house, in addition to automatically turning lights on and off, closing drapes, switching on the oven from work etc. You get the idea.

The problem as I see it lies in the traditional method of purchasing the physical entity and then owning the media. I can see the development of a different option, that of subscription, in which a user subscribes to a service that delivers music to devices over the internet (wirelessly in the future) that they do not own, but have the ability to listen to whenever they want. This is already happening on a small scale with services such as Naxos, but I'm sure that this will improve and take over as the technology develops.

In the meantime teenagers in particular will just continue to trawl file sharing sites looking for free music. Personally I use eclassical and quite like it. Not the best sound quality but good enough in 95% of the environments I'll listen to it in. I don't mind paying for it (because I can?), sleeve notes would be a nice touch. In any case though I think download's days are numbered (lossless or otherwise), and for the sake of those in the business, the sooner the better.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: What would make you pay for music downloads?
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2008, 10:43:12 AM »
My principles on legal downloads is that they must cost a lot less than CDs. I am fine with 192 bitrate (although 320 is ideal) mp3s so long as the price isn't almost identical to CD - which some online stores price them at (very foolish). Eclassical's prices seem good in comparison. Legal downloading is potentially especially good in the case of out of print CDs. BIS tends to keep all its discs in print, but for other labels which have a large back catalogue, the ability to download hard to find CDs cheaply and at a reasonable quality should appeal to many.

As drogulus mentioned, scans and linear notes are a very nice addition as well.
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