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.

4 thoughts on “metering ideas

  1. Capacity-based in something like Netflix. One could pay monthly for a virtual “box” of recordings, based on size of the box. Want more? Pay for a bigger box.

    Generally, in this model, the ideal user would be someone geared towards hearing new things every month. But, unlike with Netflix DVDs, with a virtual box, there’d likely be plenty of (virtual) space for long term holding of favorites, etc.

    Another comment about these kinds of models: they potentially leave more room to allow for sharing. E.g., in a capacity based system, people could trade music between each other’s virtual boxes, and the system would not have to monitor that, and still could easily figure out how much to charge everyone (simply: based on capacity).

    A variant: you could throw bandwidth in there as well: e.g., 10 GB of storage and 5GB of trade between your friend, each a month.

  2. If the ideal user is someone geared towards hearing new stuff, that’s an incentive to providing fresh sounds. It’s a good direction to steer.

    About capacity-based systems, I could easily see paying a fee based on my portable/offline device, since keeping it stocked is an important bottleneck. On my PC I can easily find new sources, but offline I need and am willing to pay for more service.

    Part of the deal there is that I use the device at times when I can’t fiddle with the music, like driving and working out. If the song file is corrupted I don’t have spare attention to find a new song.

  3. >>> Maybe Cold War Kids would lose money while Andrew Lloyd Webber would make even more.

    Thank you. This made my day!

    Conversely, I’m amused by the approach http://www.damnationbooks.com/ is taking with their eBook launch – the very first download of a new title is free, then the cost increments by a nickel with each successive download, up to a cap – so they are encouraging the people who are chasing the buzz. Biz-arro

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