Help me with my online music chart....

by Chris DiBona

Please don't read this as me endorsing or not endorsing any one method over another, I just wanted to put up a chart comparing all the different services/methods in a realistic picture of the state of the music trade in the age of dsl, cable modem and cd burners. Many such comparisons ignore some of the realities of the internet, files servers and the very existence of email and cd-burners.

Some cost notes: I considered CD capacity as being 100 songs (giving roughly 6-8 megabytes/song which seemed fair) and an upstream bandwidth cost of $1/gigabyte as per Jim Gray and others, which could be a bit low, but good enough for this chart, considering that isn't how many pay for their bandwidth.

Any suggested additions are welcome! Post em in the comments!

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Provider Pros



iTunes 99¢ Apple

Works great with iPod/liTunes

aac format, drm, troubling with
other non-ipod mp3 players.


79¢ to $1.79

Can't think of any.

only works with internet
explorer, overly complex, seriously flawed drm & burning
characteristics, doesn't work with many players.



.488¢ (if you pay for bandwidth or nothing.

Your ISP/Work

Share mp3s with anyone you like,
burn or use on whatever player

Large email sizes slow down
regular email and spam. Potentially illegal but  prosecuttion

Cost derived from a 1$/gb
transmitted upstream cost.

over the wire from shared server


Your Lanparty/ Work

Fast! Fun!

Limited to the tastes of the
people you know, hard to find some albums. Potentially illegal
but  prosecution unlikely.




Vast Selection

Could get sued, poor quality
d/ls sometimes and interrupted transmissions. Potentially illegal.

Cost derived from a 1$/gb
transmitted upstream cost
mp3s burned onto blank cds



Fast, easy, burn as mp3s or cd
audio for car, flexible & usable format widle supported

Limited to the tastes of the
people you know, hard to find some albums. Potentially illegal
but  prosecution unlikely.

Cost derived from blank cds
costing 8¢ on special (I paid 5¢ once, so I thought that was

I didn't include Rhapsody because I have a professional relationship with Real Networks.

itunes vs. buymusic vs. burning cds..


2003-11-07 11:11:30
Good Grid
I admire the fact you broke down each service in a grid form. Can you please reconsider including kazaa though? Sure, hint hint, wink, wink there are some legal downloads but let's be adult here the vast majority are illegally downloaded.

Its theft.

Those with the power of the press (or blog) should begin to use their power to remind people its such.

If not then i would like for "walk into tower records and stuff a cd in your pocket and walk out without paying" to be added to the grid.

2003-11-07 11:13:45
Good Grid
Do you mean, include the "possibly illegal" comment to the kazaa part? That's fair. I'll put it in.
2003-11-07 11:33:12
Good Grid
thank you. hint. hint. wink. wink.

2003-11-07 14:24:17
Don't for-fee services also use the net?
Shouldn't you be adding that $0.488 charge to all the services? Maybe not the office lan, unless you are a teleworker, but certainly the others all go over the same wire as email and kazaa.

For the record, I download legal files from Kazaa all the time. It's easy ... providing you like old music /and/ you don't live in the US of A.

2003-11-07 14:28:52
and ... hint hint wink wink ... let's also use the power of the press to educate how those who scream blue murder over this "theft" are themselves stealing the content rights from the artists; those few who have fought to get their property back can tell you these poor dear victims can afford pretty high-priced lawyers.

"As through this world I travel
I've seen all kinds of men.
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
some with a fountain pen."

2003-11-09 08:21:21
other suggestions
You include sharing burned mp3 CDs with friends which stretches the definition of 'on-line'. And the listed benefits can be achieved with the other methods by simply burning the mp3's you acquire onto a CD and seem more about usage than acquisition.

So, if you're going to leave it in, I would expand it to cover all sneakernet distribution methods e.g. burned data DVDs, or portable hard-drives (like the iPod when used as a firewire drive or just and ordinary laptop) which make it possible to share music on an industrial scale.

And since we've breached the boundary of on-line/off-line distribution you may want to include those twin scourges of intellectual property, namely the public lending libraries (which, at least in Europe, lend both data and music CDs) and the second-hand CD store (who will even partly refund your 'deposit' if you return the ripped CD to them for further distribution).

Price: It's 20 pence to rent a CD for a fortnight at my local library and they will buy basically anything on request, even relatively esoteric items such as the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds Sessions box set. I think you'd lose the equivalent of a couple of dollars if you bought and then sold a CD at a 2nd hand store.

Or what about that often overlooked group: semi-professional pirates. These people will usually fulfil a request for any currently available CD and provide you with a burned copy of the CD (with a pinted label) as well as a CD jewel case containing colour photocopies of the case inserts. I'd have to check the prices but I'd say $5 for a standard album is roughly correct.

2003-11-09 20:40:24

could it actually work?!

2003-11-10 10:40:27
The poor treatment of artists by record companies doesn't change the fact that online music or movie sharing is theft. Even if what the record companies do is illegal, that doesn't mean that stealing from the record companies is right. Microsoft was ruled a monopoly that had engaged in illegal business practices, but that doesn't make it OK to steal their software. I don't like Microsoft or record companies, but I don't steal their products, and I fail to understand why people seem to think it's OK to do so. What happened to morality?
2003-11-10 17:04:49
copyright infringement not theft
2003-11-18 21:04:19

$14.99 for 2 GB worth of _quality_ downloads, ~$0.0525 / song @ 7MB / song

2003-11-19 10:24:13

You left out Newsgroups - (almost) free (depends on what else you use your ISP for), prosecution unlikely, only downside is you have to settle for what's been posted and is currently available.
2003-12-11 09:08:48
FAIRCOPY, share legally and earn money
Method: FAIRCOPY ( )
Price/Song: set by the author (start at 0 eur)
Provider: FAIRCOPY
Pros: No DRM, burn or use on whatever player (without restrictions), share with anyone you like and EARN MONEY, it's fun!
Cons: currently (2003-12-11) there's only 1 song in the catalog (authors, try it out! it doesn't cost a thing, and you can earn money!)
Notes: it's still in beta, but it's fully functional

xavi caballe grebol

2006-01-08 18:33:00
"The poor treatment of artists by record companies doesn't change the fact that online music or movie sharing is theft."

No, but the fact that the law says it isn't shuld be enough.... and while we are at it, please don't make such blanket statemtns like that, since there is legal content to share that is music and movies.

2006-04-09 23:14:39
2006-04-10 19:41:42