According to the Wall Street Journal, Dell’s plan to produce a new line of MP3 players around its Zing media software has been delayed indefinitely. Though the MP3 players, expected to hit the shelves this holiday season, have been put on hold, the development of the Zing media software continues. Zing software will take iTunes head on and promises to allow for access to media content from a variety of different sources and with a variety of different devices. Think iTunes open and unlocked. The project is headed up by Tim Bucher, a former Apple engineering executive, who will have an uphill battle in garnering industry support for this ambitious project as Dell’s prior track record in the MP3 marketplace is rather poor. Remember Dell’s DJ Ditty? Need we say more? With new MP3 players being removed from Dell’s already abysmal fall lineup, Michael Dell may be muttering “bah humbug” instead of “t’is the season” once the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.
Taking a step in the right direction, sorta, MySpace is going to be offering loads of free music starting September 25. Technically, it isn’t really going to be free since it will likely be plastered with ads from the likes of McDonald’s, Sony, Toyota and so on. Still, it’s a pretty cool idea: You get to select all the tracks you want to slap onto your playlist and listen to them all for free with maybe a banner or two here and there to remind you who’s responsible for the luxury. There are already several programs and sites that allow you to do this but none so far that have garnered the approval of the big music companies. Looks like Sony BMG, Universal Music, Warner Music, and EMI (owner of The Beatles catalog and the cause for delay in their appearance on iTunes) are on board and totally supporting this venture. This is really good news for music lovers and for the music industry in general since it’s cool to be able to listen to the tracks you want to without jumping over hurdles or sneaking behind back doors. The only catch is you can listen to the music online only and aren’t able to download them onto your MP3 players. However if you hear it and like it, there will be direct links to Amazon.com’s music store. With Android having an Amazon music store app and now this feature on MySpace, iTunes is going to have a little competition.
Say goodbye to those jewel-cased CDs and say hello to music-filled microSDs. Universal Music Group, SONY BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI Music in conjunction with Sandisk, have announced a new audio distribution platform called “slotMusic”. With slotMusic, you will be able to buy a microSD card filled with DRM-free, 320Kbps MP3 files. No DRM means that the music can be played on any system that has a microSD slot. They are even bundle with a USB reader so you can use it on your desktop, laptop or any other device that has a USB port. So far Best Buy and Walmart have agreed to sell the new slotMusic cards which are expected to arrive in time for the upcoming holiday season. It almost seems too easy to have been put together by the record labels. Nonetheless, we applaud their move to a distribution platform that removes DRM and lets us listen to our music where we want, when we want and on whichever device we want. We only wish they would use something a bit bigger than those “easy-to-lose” microSD cards. We bet that many phones on eBay will accidentally come with an unexpected bonus slotMusic card installed. Chime in and let us know what you think of this new audio format. Any chance it might keep you away from Pirate Bay?
Arizona resident Jeffrey Howell learned some a hard lessons this past week. If you are being sued for copyright infringement, get a lawyer and if you are served with a lawsuit that tells you not to tamper with your hard drive, don’t go ahead and format it anyway. In an unfortunate turn of events last week, the second high profile RIAA copyright infringement case came to a screeching halt as it was revealed that the defendant Howell had tampered with the evidence. Howell uninstalled Kazaa, deleted its logs, and formatted his hard drive after receiving the lawsuit; thereby making any evidence irretrievable. The RIAA argued and the judge agreed that “The deliberate destruction… by itself, compels the conclusion that such evidence supported Plaintiffs’ case.” The case was found in favor of the RIAA and a final judgment was announced today. Howell must now cough up a mere $350 in court costs and whopping $40,500 in statutory damages. This case was notable as the RIAA was handed a big setback last April when a judge ruled that simply making a file available on a P2P network did not constitute copyright infringement. A crushing blow to the legal basis of the RIAA’s infringement cases. Too bad it had to end so badly.
This morning Nokia announced a major victory in its fight to become a digital music retailer. Warner Music Group, one of the biggest record labels in the industry, has signed on as a content provider for Nokia’s still-unfolding ‘Comes With Music’ offering. We have discussed Comes With Music a few times here on BGR but the concept in a nutshell is that Nokia is building a mobile music service. The mobile music store has already launched in several regions and Comes With Music would grant purchasers of certain handsets a year of all-you-can-eat free music downloads from said store. Nokia has stated that Comes With Music will launch in the second half of this year but the all-knowing interweb has had mixed feelings about the potential of the offering. We think that if Nokia can be a bit more forward-thinking and throw some technology advancements into the mix they could really have a winner on their hands. As it stands now however, we’re not sure we’ve seen enough innovation to really make Nokia’s offering stand out. Playing catch-up just isn’t going to cut it in this day and age so hopefully Nokia has a few surprises waiting for us at the launch.
Hello, Rhapsody. Real Networks’ online music store has finally launched a DRM-free download option on an apathetic unsuspecting public. Boasting a catalog of over 5 million songs, the new service allows customers to access their library for a mere $.99/song or $9.99/album. The pricing is relatively competitive, but considering how late they are to to DRM-free party, they might want to consider a fee-structure that is a bit more in line with Amazon/com’s $.89/song, $8.99 bargain basement average. Nevertheless, in an attempt to drum up excitement, Rhapsody is currently offering an entire album free of charge to the first 100,000 customers that sign up for the service. We wouldn’t recommend sticking around much after the free download hits your hard drive, but free music ain’t so bad, right? As an added incentive, the company is also making their online store available to Verizon subscribers by way of a special portal. It’s a decent solution, but we’d still wager that there are better and cheaper ways of getting music onto your handset.