Analysts and news outlets, many shackled in one way or another to Yahoo's ad empire, are a-flutter over Yahoo's new music service
, chattering like winter teeth about stock drops and price-wars
. Most are asking if Yahoo can compete with iTunes, when they should be asking: can anything compete with piracy?
Dig through the trough of media and analyst coverage
of the launch, and you'll find that 99% are ignoring the pink elephant in the room: the fact you can go to a site like Torrentspy
, plug in a band name and download an entire album - replete with cover-art - a month before official release - for free.
Whether it's illegal or not doesn't make it any less real. The fact is that most broadband users are obtaining their music illegally, and will never be prosecuted by the music industry. Illegal music downloading is the very spine
of the broadband adoption boom. ISPs are also
ignoring that same pink elephant.
How can one discuss the pay-music business model with a straight face while crack-proof DRM remains a pipe-dream, and the product being sold is freely available to the masses?
Even Apple, the most successful of the music services, makes no money off of music. Steve Jobs once hinted that almost ninety-nine cents of every dollar goes directly back to the music industry. iTunes is essentially a massive iPod ad campaign.
To undercut Apple's prices, imagine how miniscule Yahoo's profit margins are per song. What the hell are analysts excited about?
Will anyone who has utilized a music torrent tracker believe that $7 a month to rent
Windows Media only, Janus protected music is a good deal? Will any frequent visitor to IRC clap with glee at the device and burning restrictions imposed by Yahoo's new subscription service?
Yes, you can strip the DRM for 79 cents a song. Does that compete with the fact a user with a 5Mbps cable connection can download a band's entire discography - without DRM - for free in an hour?
Opera, Firefox, and Mac users couldn't even log in to the site on launch day. This is the service that will turn users away from the dark side of Bit Torrent or IRC and Newsgroup trading? In a month the DRM will be cracked and one subscriber will freely dole out music to twenty of his closest friends.
Lets paint the service for what it really is: another way for Yahoo to sell ads, while the industry waits for DRM to mature. Now ignore that pink elephant in the corner.