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Jobs Says People Don't Want to 'Rent' Music 203

eldavojohn writes "PhysOrg is running a piece on a recent speech by Apple CEO Steve Jobs about DRM free music. While we know that Jobs is a self proclaimed proponent of DRM free music who's not all talk, he's now said that 'by the end of this year, over half of the songs we offer on iTunes we believe will be in DRM-free versions. I think we're going to achieve that.' Jobs pointed out what's obvious to us, the consumers, but isn't obvious to the music industry — 'People want to own their music.' He also dismissed subscription based music as a failure, and claimed a lot of other music labels are intrigued by the EMI deal."
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Jobs Says People Don't Want to 'Rent' Music

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  • Memo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2007 @05:57PM (#18906537)
    Jobs also sent out a memo yesterday to all content providers letting them know that any and *all* of them could sign up to provide DRM-free and higher qaulity downloads from May onwards. Hopefully Nettwerk and similar labels will sign up for this, and the remaining major labels either follow suit or get forced out of the music business. Its good to see iTS (and the Amazon store) making steps towards a sensible sales model.
    • Re:Memo (Score:5, Funny)

      by bblboy54 ( 926265 ) on Saturday April 28, 2007 @01:24AM (#18909471) Homepage
      Its good to see iTS (and the Amazon store) making steps towards a sensible sales model.

      My money is on the fact that Amazon has a patent on sensible sales models.
  • He's Right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Friday April 27, 2007 @05:57PM (#18906539) Homepage
    It's the same with software, do you want to have to pay $29.95/month to use windows? (I'm sure MS would love that, but I can't think of a single person who would)
    • by Shihar ( 153932 )
      No, but I might pay 15 / month for every single MS product ever made.

      There is a reason why services like Netflix and Gametap are doing well. Some times people would prefer to have access to a wide ranger of products at a fixed monthly cost, then be forced to pick and choose products at a higher one time cost. I personally go through piles of Netflix DvDs each month but don't own a single DvD. It saves me a pile of money and leaves me only mildly irritated if I rant a bad movie.
      • by neoform ( 551705 )
        Movies are entirely different.

        Most people don't want a movie more than once, music on the other hand (or software) gets listened to (used) over and over; often coming back to it months/years later.

        • Exactly right, and this is why I am not particularly interested in movies on iTMS. I don't want to own movies. I own a load on DVD, and I have to find space to store them, even though I only watch each one every couple of years. If I owned downloaded versions, I would have to pay for storing them. I subscribe to a service like NetFlix here in the UK, but if I could I would drop it in favour of one that let me download titles instead. It would have to be DRM free, since I might want to burn them to a DV
  • People feel happy when they own their music. Hence why there are so many who won't buy DRMed music. You not only feel like a criminal, but you feel you don't own what you just spent your hard-earned money on.
    • Also it doesn't make sense at all to DRM music you sell (and therefor no music) because the people who actually buy the music isn't likely to copy it to begin with, if they where they whould have done so instead of buying it.

      But sure, if all the ways music was distributed in was copy protected and never broken it would work for them and suck for the consumers.
  • Renting in general (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:00PM (#18906583)
    Given the choice, how many people would rent a home instead of buying it? Would you rather rent a TV from RaC or own it?

    In many cases, people must resort to renting because they can't afford to buy. This is hardly the case when it comes to music.

    Like Jobs says, consumers want to own shit and do what they want with it. 'Renting' and 'subscription' are associated with control, red tape, limitations, etc. Buying a DRM-free song or album is a single transaction with no strings attached.
    • by Keeper ( 56691 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @07:20PM (#18906855)
      Consumers want what gives them the best deal.

      In most cases, buying a house is a better deal than renting a house. Hell, my mortgage payment is $300 less than renting the equivelent home (and that's before accounting for taxes). Buying is a no-brainer.

      Music isn't as clear cut ... if you download less than 120 songs per year (or less than 12 albums), buying your music is a better deal than renting. If you download more than 100 songs per year or download more than 10 albums, renting is generally a better deal IF you believe that (as a general rule) you will want to continue download at that level or higher for the foreseable future.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So what your saying is that people will always want to buy new music? If only that were so with music. What happens when you go from listening to less than $120 a year equivalent in new music to less than $10? Do you cancel your subscription, and lose everything? No, your forced to keep paying whatever they want for the honor of keeping access plus inflation.
      • the problem with subscriptions is you tend to end up locked in.

        What if you end up a bit poorer? if you were buying music you'd just stop buying more and coast along with what you've got, if you were renting you'd lose your music collection completely until you subscribed again.

        what if your provider cranks up prices and you see a better deal elsewhere but you really can't face the thought of re-finding and re-downloading your entire collection or you simply don't have the bandwidth to re-download it in a rea
      • "Music isn't as clear cut ... "

        You sure?

        See, I still physically own the first two CDs I've ever bought. I've "borrowed" and lost CDs since then, but back in 1989, I picked up "Mother's Milk" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and "Disintegration" by The Cure. Over the last eighteen years, I've listened to them, well, thousands of times. I've played them in my car(s), at home, on airplanes, while mowing the grass, riding my bike, and on and on and on. I've listened to those songs alone, sometimes with friends,

      • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @11:10PM (#18908813)
        "If you download more than 100 songs per year or download more than 10 albums, renting is generally a better deal IF you believe that (as a general rule) you will want to continue download at that level or higher for the foreseable future."

        You're right, but it's more complicated than that. I've been a Rhapsody subscriber since... oh... 2003. I went that route for a few reasons. 1.) I can always go find new music. If a friend says 'this song is good', I'm listening to it 20 seconds later. 2.) I'm near an internet-connected computer most of my waking life. I also work across 3 different machines. Work, home, laptop. Because I use a subscription service, I don't have to have gigs of backups or situations where I have some music on one computer and different music on another. I used to do that, and man it's a headache. Hard drive failures, for example, used to be rather stressful. 3.) I go through music. I have a few songs on my playlist that I had back in 03, but not many. I keep finding new stuff and listening to it. 4.) $10 a month is a lot less than I used to spend on music. 5.) I can still buy the music if I like. I've never done that, but even if I did, there's always iTunes. 6.) I rarely like a song the first time I hear it. I certainly don't find much use in hearing a 30 second clip. The subscription service allows me to plop a few songs in and see how I like them over time. I may not represent the majority, here, but I've found a number of songs that I had to 'get into'. Subscription makes perfect sense to me. I seriously doubt I'm in some minor niche, considering all the CableTV subscribers out there.

        Frankly, I think Jobs is both right and wrong. I don't think many people care about subscription music. I also think that's because they haven't been exposed to it. If what I've seen from Slashdot postings is any indication, I don't think most people even get it. "But I don't own it!" Okay, fine, think of it is access to a huge database of music. Find what you want, go buy the copies you really want to keep. Paying a few bucks a month to listen to this music may turn some people off, but I don't think blindly buying music makes much more economic sense. Unless you've heard the song you're buying, you're basically just opening your mouth and closing your eyes. At least with a subscription model like Rhapsody's, you're getting the whole song along with access to thousands of others.

        To each is own, but I completely agree with your comment about consumers wanting what gives them the best deal. The only thing I'd add to that is consumers need convincing. I don't think Jobs has tried the subscription service. I think that if he did, Apple could brainstorm a really interesting way to work that out. In other words, Apple could make it work, if they could just see past their own rationalizations. Heck, it was that sort of thinking that got iTunes off the ground despite the *AA's misgivings about it.

        If you ask me, Jobs is being really short-sighted. Unfortunately we'll never know until Apple actually tries.
        • by cmarkn ( 31706 )

          If you ask me, Jobs is being really short-sighted. Unfortunately we'll never know until Apple actually tries.
          Apple doesn’t need to try renting music. There have been dozens of other companies that have tried it, and many of them are out of business. Jobs can learn from the experience of others. That makes him wise, not short-sighted.
          • "Apple doesnt need to try renting music. There have been dozens of other companies that have tried it, and many of them are out of business."

            That can be said of any business entering any market, including Apple in many cases.

            "That makes him wise, not short-sighted."

            It's not my intention to be argumentative here, but Apple is hardly a company that plays it safe.
    • by encoderer ( 1060616 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @07:35PM (#18907019)
      You cannot compare renting a home to subscribing to a music service. It just makes no sense whatsoever.

      The reasons for subscription music services revolve largely around variety and choice. For $20 a month I can access MILLIONS, MILLIONS of songs. On top of that, your music "collection" is always up to date, new music being added all the time.

      This is like saying "Nobody would want to SUBSCRIBE to cable television. You don't want to RENT your shows, you want to OWN them, JUST LIKE A HOUSE" ...what? that makes no sense? well, either does your post.

      Let's not forget that Jobs has a vested interest here. He's not just speaking as a concerned observer. It just so happens that a subscription model is not terribly compatible with the iPod in its current incarnation.

      For $20 a month, I can buy, what, 240 songs a year? Why is is a better deal to pay $240 for 240 songs when I can pay $240 for millions of songs, available to me via any internet connection, and easily sharable with trusted friends or family? If I cancel my subscription I don't have any songs. Who cares? For $20 more I can have access for another month to millions of songs again.

      This isn't exactly a new model. If people were so concerned about "owning" content they wouldn't be going to libraries, they wouldn't be subscribing to Satellite Radio, and they wouldn't be subscribing to Cable TV.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Friday April 27, 2007 @08:50PM (#18907791) Homepage Journal
        " If I cancel my subscription I don't have any songs. Who cares?"

        I do. I have music that is 30+ years old. I don't want to be paying 20 dollars a month to listen to a few songs.

        Besides that fact that you can't listen to a million songs, so having access to a million songs is really an illogical point.
        How many unique songs will you listen to a year? That's the number you need to be using.

        If you rent 1 song, you have to pay 20 a month just to hear the 1 song.

        • by xigxag ( 167441 )
          Clearly the $20 rental model wouldn't be attractive to people who only listen to one song a month. But for someone who listens to hundreds of different songs a month, it holds some allure. Besides, some rental places have variable pricing options a la Netflix. Which seems to be doing OK, by the way.

          The point is, people should be allowed as much choice as possible. Jobs has done a lot of cool things, but he's always given me the impression that he doesn't care too much for choice. The original Macintosh
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by zrobotics ( 760688 )

          Another problem with subscription systems is the choice of music. If I'm paying for a monthly subcription, I want that subscription to cover ALL my music costs. The reason I would pay for a subscription would be so I wouldn't have to buy any CDs. The problem is, am I going to be able to find Tiger Army, Sick of it All, and Thelonious Monk songs that haven't been re-released on CD? Would I be able to listen to them in my car without some fussy adapter?

          The reason I would buy non-DRM songs would be so I could

        • I do. I have music that is 30+ years old. I don't want to be paying 20 dollars a month to listen to a few songs.

          Then you burn these to a CD and put them in a freaking drawer. Geesh.
      • by brarrr ( 99867 )
        come on, man! it makes perfect sense. whenever i'm renting a house, I have access to any one of millions of houses out there for my use, so long as I keep paying rent. Sometimes I have problems with the keys not working, but that's just like the problem I have of getting subscribed music onto my ipod; it just takes a little bit of engineering.
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )
      I would take renting the house over the buy anytime. And I might do it for a car too, if it weren't too expensive and here you see the choice between rent and buy: People would love to rent music if the price were reasonable low enough to make it worth the while. If you spend a few cents more to OWN it, I would also choose to OWN it.

      The house is different. A house here costs avg. $100,000. Include into that homeowners insurance, taxes, interest, maintenance, water purification and other costs and over the c
      • 10 years at $700 per month == $84,000 (same as taxes and mortgage)
        10 years at $1000 per month == $120,000 (taxes and mortgage about $90,000)
        10 years at $1400 per month == $168,000 (taxes and mortgage about $100,000)

        Likely rental cost after 30 years == $372,000:Equity = $0. (equity / value of home is probably about $300,000)

        $700 seems really low- property taxes on a $100,000 house is about $3000 in texas.
        Most people are playing $1,100 for $100,000 houses.

        Houses are a good choice if you are staying in plac
    • by Shihar ( 153932 )
      Your analogies are bad. It is the difference between a Netflix like service where for $15 a month you can get as many DvD as you want, but have to return them if you ever cancel your subscription, or pay $12 for each DvD, but getting to keep it forever. Personally, I like the rental model. I have Rhapsody and 3000+ songs 'rented' that I can put on my MP3 player. I don't think twice about downloading new songs or trying new things. If I hear a song that catches my fancy, I go download the whole album.
    • Given the choice, how many people would rent a home instead of buying it?

      Rent, probably. I like the freedom to be able to move if I need it. I might invest in property as well, but I don't think combining investments and essentials is good economic sense. You don't buy canned that are on sale at a supermarket because the price might go up next week, and you can sell at a profit. If it's not sensible for food, why is it sensible for shelter?

      Would you rather rent a TV from RaC or own it?

      I used to own a TV, and it broke. I spent a lot getting it fixed. It broke again. I then didn't bother getting it fixed, because

  • by Philomathie ( 937829 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:01PM (#18906603)
    Huh, imagine that, people actually wanting to own what they buy? :)
  • Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saikou ( 211301 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:02PM (#18906623) Homepage
    People don't want to pay for music either :) Unless they really-really have to, or love the artist
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not true. People love to pay for things. It makes them feel special. Why do people buy "premium" Frosted Mini Wheats, when everyone knows that Frosted Mini Spooners are better? It's because people who pay for the more expensive cereal think that they are cooler.
      • by Eccles ( 932 )
        I've never seen Frosted Mini Spooners. I've tried other, store-brand alternatives to Frosted Mini-Wheats, but usually they're substantially more dense. Kellogg's has gotten the crunchiness just right with FMW.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      People don't want to pay for music either :) Unless they really-really have to, or love the artist
      iTunes sold one BILLION songs; Stop repeating that RIAA FUD.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      Thats not true.

      Pretty much everything on iTunes can be got for free without much effort.

      No, people don't mind paying for something they want, but that doesn't mean they will pay MORE then they feel they should.
    • by hachete ( 473378 )
      I want to pay for music. I want guaranteed quality. I want complete meta-data, linked to relevant meta-data. I'm pissed off continually updating meta-data. Use the fucking tags, people!!!
  • One can only hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dahdahdah ( 999584 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:02PM (#18906625)
    ... that Apple's clout is sufficient to a) hold the price line on the renegotiaed contracts with the other 3 and b)that those 3 will jump on the non-DRM bandwagon. BUT - i fear they may pull their contracts to greedily make more money elsewhere, and to try to spur lagging CD sales.. Although, even if they did that, seems to me Job's prediction of 50% non-DRM music on iTunes is all but guaranteed.
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:04PM (#18906657) Homepage
    The music industry aren't complete idiots. They know people don't want DRM'ed music, just like they knew people didn't want to pay inflated prices for records for 30+ years. That's not the point though. It's not about what we want, it's about what they want, and what they're willing to do to get it. Whether they violate racketeering laws, buy legislature, or lie straight to the faces of their customers every second of every day, it's not because they're stupid. It's because they're greedy crooks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not so, at least not at the two of the "big four" labels where I was privileged (ha!) to work directly with top-level executives for the most horrible few years, for me, of the '90s. The men and women who run these companies aren't total idiots—you don't get to run companies if you're truly egregiously stupid, especially not in media—but many of them are pretty fucking risk-averse, even to the point of preferring the status quo to bold moves with unpredictable consequences, whether or not they c
    • You did hear that EMI surrendered?
      That's right. EMI is going to release as much of its back catalog as possible to the music services, inc. iTunes, without DRM.
      I know, you'll believe it when you see it. But they've already released a few trax without DRM here and there.
      • by Ahnteis ( 746045 )
        Of course, they're only available in lossless, coincidentally more expensive, files.
        • So? I hear lossless sounds better than lossy, so the extra $0.30-$1.00 might be worth it.
          They are giving you no DRM--fewer unneccesary restrictions, and no more incentive to pirate simply to format-shift. They are (if you are right) giving you a higher quality format than Fairplay AAC or the DRMed WMPs. They are paying the composers of the work, and maybe will even pay the artists if the artists are lucky. They will do it on iTunes, with most of the artists they have. That should be worth something.
        • They're not lossless, but they are twice the bitrate of DRM'd files. Also, they only cost more if you buy individual tracks. If you buy albums, they are the same price.
  • by servoled ( 174239 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:06PM (#18906671)
    I spend more than I probably should on music, but I still pay for one of those subscription services. Why? To audition new music. Lots of times I'll hear of something new, and listen to the album (lots of times a 30 second sample just doesn't cut it) on the subscription service to decide whether its worthwhile to buy the album. Other than that, its fun to go through stuff I already own and randomly follow the recommendation links they provide to see if I stumble on something good.

    Now, I certainly wouldn't want to use the subscription service as my only source of music... primarily due to the limited selection, mediocre encoding quality and limitations of where I can listen. However, I'd say its worth its worth the $10 to be able to audition full albums of most stuff without trying to track them down on some p2p system.
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      I spend more than I probably should on music, but I still pay for one of those subscription services. Why? To audition new music.

      You can use free and legal services like Pandora for this.
  • by jonathanbearak ( 451601 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:10PM (#18906695)
    I think Jobs' perspective should be put into context.

    First of all, iTunes DRM is not designed for a subscription model. Re-engineering would be required, including firmware updates for older iPods, to enforce the subscriptions.

    Moreover, not all songs are typically available via the subscription model. Jobs continues to make an issue about variable pricing for songs, with the DRM-free option being the one exception. Yet, consider how they are planning to implement this: by a preference in which the user selects which kind of music s/he prefers to buy.

    Some have said a subscription model would require a whole new iTunes Store -- a separate store, with rentable tracks. This is not really true -- users could be presented with a "Buy Song" or "Rent Song" button where applicable.

    A subscription service is "not out of the question," he says, but it doesn't look like it's in Apple's interests -- they would bear the price of increasing download costs, unlike the record companies.

    DRM-free music, on the other hand, allows for seamlessness. Users can download music, copy it between iPods, computers, and friends' computers without a hassle. Rentable tracks would lend themselves to the opposite kind of experience.
  • Ownership (Score:2, Interesting)

    The trend lately to lease, license, rent, etc., rather than own, annoys me to no end. If I'm going to buy something and not own it, there better be a really major advantage somehow(i.e. I rent an apartment/house and someone else is responsible for its maintenance.) But with music, software, etc., I just don't see how leasing is beneficial to anyone but the seller. Also, I'd like to apologize for using up this page's allotment of commas.
    • by Shihar ( 153932 )
      But with music, software, etc., I just don't see how leasing is beneficial to anyone but the seller.

      There is a difference between renting and getting crippleware. Buying a DRMed song or getting a Sony rootkit is cripple ware and I am completely against such things. On the other hand subscription services serve some people very well. I have Rhapsody and 3000+ songs from the subscription service. For me, it works well. I download what I want, load it into my MP3 player, and think nothing of it. To do th
  • I was heavily into iTunes until I tried out the Urge service that's bundled with WMP11. $10 a month is dirt cheap and I can "try before I buy" tonnes of entire albums. If I want to buy an album, I can do it online. The tracks would already be on my hard drive (if I chose to download instead of stream) and a bit is flipped to state that I've purchased the songs and can now burn them (and re-rip to MP3). Most likely, if I like an entire album, I'll buy the CD used at the local music store.

    The radio statio
    • And that, my fellow slashdotters, is why we must never underestimate Microsoft.
      Keep an eye on the terms of service, BTW. Apple's iTunes did allow songs to be directly converted from Fairplay AAC to stripped mp3 once. It no longer permits it so directly.
  • by demonic-halo ( 652519 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @06:32PM (#18906749)
    Ok.. so you got the major record labels together.. how do you agree to split the revenue fairly?

    You'll have to work out a system probably based on who ever gets the most plays, which song is most popular, etc... And of course not all artists are worth the same, correct? You got songs many years old, competing against songs that are just released. Then how do you factor in the appreciation premiums? I'm sure a Antoni Bachelli is worth much more in the eyes of the people than a Britney Spears.

    Then you'll get a system where the independent artists will get totally screwed. Their play percentage is much lower than the big record labels and of course they don't have the big wigs and high price lawyers on their side. At least with song purchase models it's easy to map where that 99 cents should go to.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      OTOH, I have heard of Britney Spears.
    • As I understand how it works at Napster/Real, etc., it's essentially a form of Micropayment.

      The portable music player keeps track of what songs you listen to. It reports this back to the Store. Once every month, the Store counts up all the songs listened to and how much the song was and sends off checks to the appropriate rights holders.

      So if I listen to a Song/BMG song 100 times and listening to it costs 0.1 cents, I owe Sony/BMG 10 cents for that month.

      Of course, that's tough to sell. So instead, t

  • Too expensive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @09:09PM (#18907951) Homepage
    At 1.29 (last I heard) for the DRM free version, it's even more worth it to just buy the CD if you want DRM free music. Personally, a file transfered over the internet isn't worth that much to me. I don't know why people pay so much for music from iTunes when the CDs are only marginally more expensive. For my downloaded music I use eMusic. They don't have everything, so I still buy some CDs. However, eMusic's price of about $0.30 for a song is much more to my liking. I've always said it should be a quarter a song, even when iTunes first came out. Because when you cut out the entire distribution chain, as well as the physical media, the cost of the songs should be really low. And since from what I hear the artists don't make any more from iTunes (sometimes less) than they do from CD sales, I can only assume that it's lining the pockets of the production companies, who frankly, don't really deserve any more money.
    • Re:Too expensive (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous McCartneyf ( 1037584 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @11:03PM (#18908767) Homepage Journal
      People buy from iTunes because they have iTunes software and because it can be faster and easier than hunting down a CD in a store or on if all you want is one song, and you're not sure what album it's from. It's all for convenience.
      There is still a distribution chain with iTunes. iTunes does not sign artists (yet), and it is not run by any labels. Therefore, it is distributing music from various labels, both major & indie. And the labels are themselves distribution mechanisms. We're not talking about music directly off some musician's webpage, unfortunately.
      The major labels take a percentage of the price of an album or single. If they gouge at $0.99 and they gouge at $1.29, then they will gouge at $0.25. The less you pay at list, the less the artist will get paid. So we've a tricky economic problem here until someone stops the labels from gouging artists.
    • Price two singles per CD instead and you'll see why iTMS is appealing. Plus the new 'complete album' allows you to get the whole thing for a reasonable price still.
  • by SysPig ( 63656 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @09:38PM (#18908193)
    Perhaps Mr. Jobs would like to expand his "you bought it, use it as you wish" philosophy to the OS he sells.

    • I'm sure he'll be pleased to when other commercial OS vendors also let people do whatever they like with their products.
  • $20 bucks for 75 tracks/mo. Strait mp3s with no strings attached and the ability to download anything you've lost without penalty. Now if we can just get all the labels on it :).
  • Please don't link to PhysOrg. They're a link tarpit... their business model is to take press releases from elsewhere on the net and post them without linking back to the original article, so that searches terminate there among their ad banners. It's usually not *hard* to find the article they copied, it does usually have non-hypertext attribution, so using PhysOrg's tarpit is just laziness.

    This appears to be the original article: at Ziff Davis' C|net [].

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly