Napster, others agree to use new Microsoft DRM media software, subscription music on portables

“Microsoft Corp. said Time Warner Inc.’s America Online unit, Walt Disney Co., Roxio Inc.’s Napster and others have agreed to use a new version of Microsoft’s media software that could give the company an advantage in a budding music rivalry with Apple Computer Inc. The new version of its Windows Media software contains an improvement that could allow consumers who rent, rather than buy, digital music and movies to put those files on portable devices — an important capability that media rental and subscription services now lack. Subscribers to such services would be able to fill up a portable player with songs, keeping them for as long as they remain members,” Dow Jones reports.

“Users will periodically need to reconnect their devices to their computers and the Internet — every 30 days, say — to renew rights to keep listening to songs on their players. While pricing plans haven’t been set, online music executives have talked about offering the ability to rent unlimited amounts of music for $ 20 or more a month,” Dow Jones reports.

Full article here.


  1. Hmm, $20 a month for all the music a person can choke down. On the surface that may sound good, but how much music must one download and listen to before the service is worth it? How many people REALLY have that much disposable time to download, edit, and listen – especially if they are limited to a dialup service? What if you don’t listen to that much music? If you don’t, then the cost per song goes way up! What happens to your library should you fail to make a payment? It’s really not your library you know…you’re only renting it. Knowing the M$ business ethic, your library will disappear in a flash. What happens if good ol’ M$ screws up and accidently loses your account? Do you want M$ to have a direct feed into your personal finances?

    Up until now, recorded music was always purchased. Once purchased, it is yours to keep as long as you wish. I never knew a person to suffer because he didn’t have a huge library immediately. Just like any good collection – it takes time.

    One more question to ponder…What happens when they decide to jack the monthly rental up some outlandish amount? Notice I didn’t say “IF they wanted to increase the monthly rental”. Now you’re stuck. If you want to keep “your” library, you will have to cough up the extra dough and keep doing it. This would never happen to your existing music if you owned it outright.

    This whole thing smells to me like something a drug lord does to his victims. Once the victim is hooked, they set the hook and won’t ever let go.

  2. This whole thing smells to me like something a drug lord does to his victims. Once the victim is hooked, they set the hook and won’t ever let go.- Mac Daddy
    This sounds like Gates & Windows. Lock everybody in to their format. Lets face it Microsoft will own the world ( at least the western part of it). Who will stop them, everything they do will be good enough & make the users pay forever. Proof of point is that the majority of people think that computers are Microsoft & there is nothing else & whatever Microsoft does is a first in innovation. Lots of people are happy to pay subscription services like cable tv etc. They say its only $20 a month thats less than $1 a day, no-one thinks what it costs over a year or two. Microsoft will win.

  3. Dear customer, due to the expansion set of features your monthly fee has been raised to $30.
    Uhmm no wait, let’s make it $40 otherwise our businees does not turn into profit.

    Apple closed format? Have you counted the number of formats I can have MY music with once I have bought it? Not to take into account that full CDs have been turned into… well, full CDs
    What is these silly comments about “locked in one format” “one day you will not be able to play it because iTMS would have closed”. Silly.

  4. And when Microsoft controls 90% of the music downloads up come the costs. Microsoft makes a killing again. You will have 2 choices, pay up or lose your music.

  5. $20 a month, $240 a year! That’s roughly 240 songs you could have bought on iTMS to own forever! I don’t hear 240 new songs each year that I need to have in my music library… iTMS is much better! It doesn’t actually lock you into something, because there is no monthly fee you’ll have to pay in order to not let your music go away…

    $20 a month seems like a bargain in the first 2 months, but certainly not in the long run…

  6. Just a tip to all the “youngsters” – I have noticed that once people get married and have (noisey) children the adults listen to very little music.
    Quiet is now what one wants/enjoys.
    So listen now and own your tunes for later fond rememberances that the music brings.

  7. And warming to the contribution of Kool: –

    240 songs is around 24 albums, which is more music than I purchased during 2002 or 2003.

    Most of the music I listen to I have owned for years.

    Here are the key bits of my catalog with albums purchased since 1977 and repurchased on CD format since 1992: Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, Robert Fripp, King Crimson, Brian Eno, Robert Palmer, David Bowie, with albums dating back to 1972.

    Under this ‘rental’ model, I would have paid 312 months at $20/�13, or �4000 to maintain this collection. Or I could have done what I actually did which was build a collection of around 250 albums in total for the same money.

    But next month – instead of paying Microsoft a single penny – I will pay nothing, but still have my music collection to use anywhere I see fit, at a quality I consider acceptable, with the artwork and everything.

    I look forward to the first quarter’s sales figures with an almost giddy sense of anticipation.

  8. I for one will not ‘rent’ music or movies and certainly won’t be giving microsoft $20 a month!

    I like owning my media and therefor do as I wish with it and when I want to.

    This is just another case of micrsoft screwing it’s customers for more money!!

    And guess what – this rental system will be only compatible with windows media player – I wonder how they are going to do this in light of the EU decision for microsoft to strip windows media player from it’s OS.

    Apple should now launch a movie store where you dowload movies/music and anything else digital pay per movie with ownership.

    Just look at the dvd/video rental market in stores – it’s a dead industry and I can’t see anyone subcribing to this crap in the UK.

  9. Renting music might work – and then again it might not, no one really knows yet. At least these companies are trying. When I was younger, music played a much bigger role in my life than it does now. I expect things haven’t changed much and people with a passion for music (if they are like I was) will have one or two artists per month/quarter who they sincerely believe are the BEST thing since sliced bread. What I’m saying is, BUYING a particular artist’s new recording was (and, I guess, still is) a very large part of the statement I made about my tastes and my commitment to a particular outlook on life. Owning a selected collection of music was one of the ways I defined myself to the world around me. Even favourite music I might have initially taped from a friend, I would eventually buy because the act of ownership provided me with an important – and, in the world of music…necessary – affinity with the artist and his/her outlook on life. If other people are like me, it would be absurd for them to say “this artist’s music feels like it is life-changing… but only life-changing enough for me to pay someone to BORROW it and then give it back”. It would be like renting food.

    I still have a lot of my old favourites – and I’m glad I have them around. I don’t play them much, but collectively – they act a bit like a diary, I dip in and it reminds me of previous times.

  10. I cant see anyone making money out of this apart from microsoft.

    This WILL kill the music industry.

    Artists will not get a bean from the rentals and microsoft will get all the cash!

    If this is a success you can say goodbye to the music industry – NO ONE WILL WANT TO WRITE MUSIC if you can’t earn a living from it!

  11. Another thing the record companies have lost sight of is that music IS – and always WAS – for sharing. Long before the days of the gramophone record, the whole point of music was that it was a SHARED experience. Back then, day-to-day access to music was, necessarily, a ‘do-it-yourself’ process… people bought the sheet music for the purpose of sharing songs with others around a piano/guitar etc. As far as I know, the ‘score’ never came with a warning about how many times the piece could be played – or a limit set to the number of people who could hear it – or play it.

    It seems to me that you can’t take ‘sharing’ out of ‘music’ – which is the ‘King Knut’ task the record companies have set themselves. What they need to do is find a means for people to continue sharing music (which they will do regardless) in a way which is profitable to their businesses. And – in the new digital age – perhaps renting is part of that solution.

  12. eh.. guys, the more songs you buy, the less ‘optional’ that subscription is.. that’s MS’s kind of deal…

    and what happens when you don’t know.. if you have to pay for rent or sth.. then all the songs evaporate and you have to load them up again…?

    renting music sucks..

    one guy said it.. there’s a reason you dont hear about music rental brick and mortar stores… tooooo eaaaaaasyy to copy!!

    wait.. do they still have those BS DRM rules about burning? you pay extra to burn a song.. okay thanks real.. you can file CH. 11 now..

  13. good job twenty.. actually a license to a song is not something to share.. but the sounds themselves playing out of my stereo can be shared by as many people as can fit in that room..

    part of the music industry (and many of consumer electronics, like video games) depend on the vast majority of ppl being anti-social shut ins…

    your comparaison to beowulf days didn’t really help as you confuse the word sharing.. with..the euphemism for THEFT, that napster coined.

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