New music service sings a different tune

For several years, one of the hottest topics in ebusiness has been what will happen with online music.

A generation of young people has grown up downloading and listening to music through unauthorized services. The mainstream music industry has responded with lawsuits and anti file-sharing advertising campaigns. It's left a lot of people wondering if the world of music and the Internet would ever get along.

Magnatune is an interesting new ebusiness that is taking its cues from the success of open source software distribution. Magnatune is applying ideas from the world of open source software development to the world of music. They are doing this by licensing music with a Creative Commons license that lets people freely copy and share songs over the Internet.

Creative Commons has created a set of licenses based on ideas from the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License. The Creative Commons licenses are designed for creative works, such as music, writing, and film, instead of software.

Magnatune grew out of the experiences of its founder, John Buckman. He found his interactions with the music industry frustrating. " When my wife was signed to a British record label, we were really excited. In the end, she sold 1000 CDs, lost all rights to her music for 10 years (even though the CD has been out of print for many years), and earned a total of $45 in royalties."

Buckman also saw opportunity in the conflict between traditional music companies and Internet users. "Napster, Gnutella and Kazaa proved that people love music, and they want to share it....Clearly there's a huge public demand for Open Music." His answer was to create a company designed to fit with the realities of the Internet.

Magnatune is trying to capitalize on the needs of the millions of people that are actively downloading and distributing music. Magnatune starts with the idea that music should be shareware. It uses a flexible license that gives users greater freedom than in the past:

* Users can listen to music online, download it, and share it freely.

* The music can be freely modified into derivative works, such as remixes.

* While non-commercial use is free, commercial use requires license fees.

Mainstream music companies are spending tremendous amounts of money to generate demand, and then limiting supply. Magnatune is taking the opposite approach. They are spending very little to create demand, instead making an unlimited supply legally available.

While Magnatune may give away music, it's in business to make money.

They intend to do this in several ways:

* Complete albums are downloadable in high-quality formats starting at $5.

* Music can be licensed for commercial purposes, including broadcast use.

* They are planning on marketing merchandise tied into its music and musicians.

Magnatune's model is appealing: it is fair to musicians, it's easy on music lovers, and meets a need for Internet users. Magnatune's unique approach to competing with traditional music companies makes it an ebusiness to watch.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Lewin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?