RealNetworks launces ‘Freedom of Choice’ campaign with song downloads for 49 cents

In a press release issued today, ReaNetWorks actually singles out Apple’s iTunes Music Store in their subtitle, opening the release with:

RealNetworks Kicks Off ‘Freedom of Choice’ Campaign With Biggest Music Sale in History
For a Limited Time, Song Downloads Now Cost Just 49 Cents, Half the Price of Other Stores Including Apple’s

The press release reads:
RealNetworks Inc., the leading creator of digital media services and software, today announced the biggest music sale in history to kick off the Freedom of Choice campaign. For a limited time only, every song in the RealPlayer Music Store — from a-ha to ZZ Top — costs just 49 cents, with most albums available for just $4.99. Consumers can take advantage of this offer by going to [url=http://www.real.com/music]http://www.real.com/music[/url]

This limited time sale celebrates the Freedom of Choice made possible by the release of the free RealPlayer 10.5, the first product that integrates Real’s revolutionary new Harmony Technology. RealPlayer with Harmony enables consumers to buy and download music that plays on more than 100 portable devices, including the Apple iPod. Before RealPlayer with Harmony, consumers buying digital music were forced to buy music that only worked on a particular brand of portable device, meaning that they could easily get “locked in” to that device, often without even knowing it.

“To celebrate Freedom of Choice, we’re running the biggest music sale in history,” said Rob Glaser, founder and CEO of RealNetworks in the press release. “Thanks to RealPlayer with Harmony Technology, consumers can now buy digital songs and play them on virtually any device of their choice, just like how CDs and DVDs work. We believe Freedom of Choice is both the right thing for consumers and a crucial step in bringing digital delivery of music into the mainstream.”

“Freedom of Choice Campaign”

In addition to the Freedom of Choice music sale, RealNetworks is rolling out an extensive print, radio, and online advertising campaign. National advertising includes a full-page ad in The New York Times heralding the 49-cent download and welcoming consumers to a new era of freedom of choice in digital music. Similar ads will appear in alternative weeklies across the country and across the Internet.

Additionally, RealNetworks is launching a new web-based community at [url=http://www.freedomofmusicchoice.org]http://www.freedomofmusicchoice.org[/url] This community site will provide a forum where consumers can learn about compatibility issues and discuss the issues with other digital music fans.

Already the Freedom of Choice campaign has a strong base of support. Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based public advocacy organization that seeks to act as the public’s voice in the digital age, has endorsed the campaign and urged consumers to take note of the issues raised. The organization issued its own news release today in Washington DC.

“RealNetworks should be commended for increasing consumer choice in the online music world,” said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge in the press release. “Public Knowledge has long supported interoperability and freedom of choice in digital media. The more digital music formats are compatible, the more choice there is for everyone. Consumers, the recording industry and the technology industry all benefit when there is more choice in the marketplace,” Sohn said. “The more choices there are for legal downloading, the less incentive there is for illegal downloading. All companies in the technology and recording industries should take the hint and work together to bring the benefits of digital music to consumers,” she added.

The members of the musical group Devo, early music video pioneers who had a well-known album and song called “Freedom of Choice” in the early 1980s, have partnered with RealNetworks to help get the word out about the importance of freedom of music choice for consumers.

“History has shown consumers don’t like proprietary systems,” said Gerald V. Casale, of Devo in the press release. “Consumers and musicians will both benefit from a digital music environment that gives the consumers the ultimate freedom to choose where they buy music regardless of the kind of device they want to play in on.”

RealNetworks announced on July 26th the beta test of the new Harmony Technology, the world’s first DRM translation system to enable consumers to securely transfer purchased music to every popular secure music device. Harmony Technology frees consumers from the limitation of being locked into a specific portable device when they buy digital music. Now consumers can build their library of downloads secure in the knowledge that it will play on virtually any device they choose.

Available as part of RealPlayer, the first consumer product to use Harmony Technology, consumers can get Harmony at [url=http://www.real.com]http://www.real.com[/url]

With Harmony Technology, RealPlayer Music Store supports more than 100 secure portable media devices, including all 4 generations of the iPod and iPod mini, and products from Creative Labs, Rio, RCA, palmOne, iRiver, Dell, Gateway, and Samsung. Generally speaking, Harmony supports any device that uses the Apple FairPlay DRM, The Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM, or the RealNetworks Helix DRM, giving RealPlayer Music Store support for more secure devices than any other music store on the Internet. Harmony Technology will be available later this year in other music products from RealNetworks including Real’s market-leading Rhapsody subscription service.

MacDailyNews Take: Question: what do failing businesses do when in trouble? Answer: Have drastic price cuts and hold sales. Have another doughnut, Rob, and enjoy your desperate “going out of business sale.” As for the so-called, self-titled “Freedom of Choice campaign: the general public may buy Windows 9 to 1, but they’re not that dumb, Mr. Glaser.

Download link for Apple’s iTunes for Mac and Windows here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
RealPlayer Music Store announces iPod harmony – July 26, 2004
Test of Real’s new Harmony Technology works with Apple’s iPod – July 27, 2004
BusinessWeek writer: Apple needs to firmly squelch Real’s Harmony – July 27, 2004
Apple ‘stunned’ that Real broke into iPod with ‘Harmony’ – July 29, 2004
Analyst: Apple must not ‘sound anti-consumer’ in the face of Real’s ‘Harmony’ – July 29, 2004
RealNetworks issues statement about Harmony Technology and ‘creating consumer choice’ – July 29, 2004
The Motley Fool: Real’s Harmony ‘is a slap in the face for Apple’ – July 29, 2004
Mac users shut out of Real’s Harmony hack? – July 30, 2004
Forbes writer: ‘bad vibes aren’t likely to stick to Apple’ over Real’s Harmony mess – July 30, 2004
RealNetwork’s CEO Glaser crashes Apple’s music party – July 30, 2004
RealNetworks to debut ‘iPod-as-padlock’ ads – August 17, 2004
Text of ‘Hey Apple, Don’t Break My iPod! Petition to Apple Computer’ – August 17, 2004
Rob Glaser interviewed about achieving harmony with Steve Jobs – August 17, 2004
Real’s online petition for music ‘freedom’ backfires bigtime – August 17, 2004
RealNetworks debuts replacement ‘freedom petition’ omitting comments – August 17, 2004

40 Comments

  1. Yeah, right. “Freedom of Choice” as long as you chose Windows as your operating system. No thanks, Rob! I will gladly exercise my right to choose to use only iTMS via Mac OS X.

  2. Act of desperation or smart move? Losing money is the goal until Labor Day, then what happens?
    Oh yes, Mac owners need not apply as Harmony is not Mac-Compatible…. yet.

  3. I am VERY disappointed in Jerry Casale and Devo for cashing in and involving themselves in an inherently anti-Apple, pro-Windows venture. They should know better. I guess this means they’re going to dump out all those Macs they use every day at Mutato Musika, huh?

    It turns out freedom from choice is what they want.

  4. my petition:

    What a desperate move from Real. Slightly amusing but majorly pathetic. I think that consumer should know about Real’s pathetic attempt to force Apple into a deal. An attempt which ridiculed your boss. Apple has a full product that is by far an amazing one. Yours is simply small, unfriendly and most of all, not compatible with Apple’s OS. Surely this desperate attempt won’t get you too far. Real is acting like a small software company lacking contracts and customers.

  5. music is music is music is music….. as repeated here many times over.

    hmm. will i choose the store that has perfect compatibility with my current player, or will i risk support problems by shopping elsewhere? i don’t care where i buy my CDs, but if Apple has the best, easiest to use store that works perfectly with my CD player, why would i bother shopping anywhere else? even this Real fire sale.

    does this mean that Real is subsidizing each purchase with this sale? they are paying us to give us the music. ok, let’s say it lasts two weeks. what then. once the price goes back up, what possible advantage is left except confounding interface, poor design, and potential crap.

    considering that i bought all that digital music from iTunes, or even if i never did, i sure would not want to bind myself to any company other than apple. why? because they do a few things, and they do it well. they’ve been around longer than another other player in the online music business, are bigger, better, etc. it’s their lifeline, and they will make sure it lasts. the others, heck, they could care less.

    is this enough for a counter-website or article? freedom my foot. i’ll believe it if Real was less desperate or was not one of the competitors.

  6. does it not seem strange that people, or so called journalists and analysts, have tried to downplay iTunes on account of people not wanting to lock themselves to a single company.

    yet, of all the companies out there, who has the best online experience, presence, dedication, and resources to show that they are really, really committed. further, that they do a few things, but really well. would i want to even think about visiting a company that only does online music and wonder if it will be around in 5 months, or how about those rebranding things. basically, going to all those other places means i am putting my faith in WMA and its poor quality.

    no thank you. funny, i never felt “tethered” to Macs, as the Endgaget stupidity claimed. now, i also don’t feel “tethered” to iPod or iTunes. completely transparent to me. but, apparently not to Glaser. he thinks i’m not free. well, i’m not free to waste time and effort subsidizing his second class experience, that’s for sure.

  7. Any one notice that the “freedom of choice” uses PostNuke? Now, with all the crap they spew out about security etc. why would they launch a HIGH profile site like this with a CMS that is so ridden with security holes? They’re just looking for a SQL injection attack! And deservedly so….

  8. Listen, give Real a break!!! They may be going out of business but to be honest music at $0.49 a song is a great deal. Also remember that Real is at 192 Kbs (i think) rather than a poultry 128Kbs at the Apple Music Store!!!

    I will continue buying CDs until Apple gets up to 192 at the very least

  9. If Real is going to tout “Freedom Of Choice” in their online music promotion, then they need to practice what they preach and offer their content beyond just the “Windows only” crowd.

    I want to see the Real Player with all it’s chock full of goodness available on all other major platforms including; Mac, Amiga and Linux!

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