Napster’s dirty little secret: changing subscription services into downloads is easy

“Call it the soft underbelly of the subscription music business model, something none of the major players seems to want to talk about: It’s very easy to turn stream-only services into download plans without changing a thing,” Eric Hellweg writes for Technology Review. “Replay Music, which retails for $50,  will even append song, artist, and album information to the file in the background, with about a 90 percent accuracy rate.”

“None of the the major streaming services — Napster, Yahoo’s MusicMatch, RealNetwork’s Rhapsody, or digital music distributor MusicNet — would talk on the record about their company’s position on the various programs,” Hellweg writes. “Their reluctance is understandable. Since programs such as Replay Music operate locally on the user’s computer — recording whatever is going through a soundcard as opposed to going out and pulling streams directly off of, say, Napster’s servers — there’s little the subscription music services can legally do to stop them.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, okay, so it’s not so secret anymore. Therein lies the subscription services’ not-so-little problem. We’d bet that the music labels can do the math.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
AOL removes Napster pirate plug-in ‘Output Stacker’ from website – February 17, 2005
Napster feels the heat over flawed copy-protection scheme – February 17, 2005
Apple CEO Steve Jobs warns record industry of Napster To Go’s security gap – February 16, 2005
Users thwart Napster To Go’s copy protection; do the music labels realize the piracy potential? – February 15, 2005
Napster-To-Go’s ‘rental music’ DRM circumvented – February 14, 2005


  1. So everyone is going to be forced to buy-a-song model.

    Greedy bastards should have done the right thing in the first place – typical Windows-centric thinking if you ask me

  2. In subscription models, don’t the artists and labels get paid according to play count? So if some one only downloads it once, captures the stream and steals it, the artist and label end up getting stiffed. Well, it will remain to be seen how much this will end up actually happening but if it is as easy as they say then I would it expect it to be pretty rampant.

  3. As a Mac AND PC guy (yeah, right), I’ll approach this subject with my typical facade balance and even perspective, while really digging at the Mac platform.

    Oh never mind.

  4. As a Mac AND PC guy (yeah, right), I’ll approach this subject with my typical facade balance and even perspective, while really digging at the Mac platform.

    Oh never mind.

  5. So this is like us buying Audio HiJack in the Mac, with the exception that we can’t subscribe to the subscription services in the first place?

    For Mac users, then, it’s not that we don’t steal music, but that we CAN’T steal music!!??? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

  6. MacSmiley:

    This is where NoMacForYou’s suggestion to get a $350 Dell comes in handy.

    Dell ShitBox: $350 (give or take)
    One Month of Napster: $15 (I guess?)

    Download and re-format a couple of thousand songs or so? Free

    Total Savings over iToons: LOTS

    Oh, wait. The songs come in WMA format? Forget it.

    Besides, you don’t want the enviro-Nazis coming after you when you throw the Dell shitbox into the dumpster after a month.

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