metering ideas

What’s up with all the pay-to-play music products (except Lala) using the same approaches to drawing up the bill? Why not innovate on metering methods?

capacity based

Every time you download, you get charged. And a download can’t be revoked. So it’s like the iTunes music store and Amazon in that way.

But you can swap one download for another. Delete one, add one.

You pay for capacity. For example, 4GB costs $5 and 1TB costs $30.

listening based

Another way to do it: pay by listening time. You buy, let’s say, 10 hours of listening per month. You can use it for anything you want. You pay a flat fee, which is divvied up according to actual usage.

If you go over then you pay a per-listen rate.

It’s just like cell phone plans.


What interests me about these is the way they’d encourage some behaviors and discourage others.

By-capacity would be way of charging to have a less unpredictable playlist, because a smaller capacity would mean less range. People whose listening is satisfied by the 250-song playlists of commercial radio wouldn’t need more than a GB.

By-listening-time would divvy up the money more fairly between cool bands and bands who make music people enjoy. Maybe Cold War Kids would lose money while Andrew Lloyd Webber would make even more. Or acts with hits among children — who liten to the same songs over and over — would become really big business.