The recording industry has been waging war against Russian-based music websites for years. While the industry has successfully litigated most file sharing networks out of existence, they haven’t had much luck stopping sites like MediaService’s AllofMP3. Despite the RIAA’s best efforts AllofMP3 continues to sell digital downloads to music lovers around the world, while technically complying with Russian copyright laws and licensing agreements.
While complying with the laws of your country may seem like a loophole here in the United States, it makes perfect sense to a company that’s based in Russia. Unfortunately for MediaServices that the loophole is about to be closed. There are signs the Russian government is planning to crack down on grey market download sites like AllofMP3 in an effort to gain admission into the World Trade Organization.
Regardless of what you think about the legality of AllofMP3, there’s no denying that MediaServices has created one of the most innovative and consumer friendly digital music services around. AllofMP3 is so well done that the “legitimate” recording industry could learn quite a bit by studying it. Hopefully the major labels will take a long look at AllofMP3 before it gets shut down.
Here are a few lessons the music industry could learn from AllofMP3:
- Digital Music Is About Freedom. It should come as no surprise that songs purchased from AllofMP3 are not restricted by DRM. As a result, AllofMP3’s customers have the Freedom to play their music on any device. While eMusic and a few other services sell unencrypted music, AllofMP3 is the only service to offer a full catalog of unencrypted albums from major labels, as well as independent artists. The recording industry would have you believe that they can’t make money selling DRM-free music – yet that’s exactly what AllofMP3 is doing. If the industry’s arguments were correct then AllofMP3 wouldn’t be selling many songs.
- Digital Music Is About Flexibility. Because AllofMP3 isn’t tied to a proprietary DRM system they’re free to encode their music in a number of widely supported formats. AllofMP3 is the only site that I know of that allows consumers to choose their preferred format. Mp3, AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, take your pick.
- Quality Matters. AllofMP3 is the only digital music service that openly acknowledges the quality limitations of lossy digital music formats. Not surprisingly, it’s also the only service that I know of that sells digital music in lossless formats. In addition to the lossy formats noted above, AllofMP3 allows quality conscious consumers to download music in four lossless formats, including: FLAC, Monkeys Audio, OptimFROG, and WAV.
- The Price Of Digital Music Should Reflect Actual Value. AllofMP3 has a unique approach to pricing – they charge a flat rate per megabyte. As a result, song prices are based on the length of the song and the quality of the encoding. As I mentioned above, AllofMP3 offers consumers music in no less than eight digital formats. They also allow consumers to choose the bitrate of the encoding. Logically, higher bitrate files cost more to download because the file size is larger. As a result, price is reasonably reflective of the value the consumer receives when he downloads a song. Better yet, consumers can save money by buying music encoded at a lower quality. At some point a consumer may choose to re-purchase a song or album at a higher quality. It’s not unlike what happens today when the labels release a re-mastered CD with improved sound quality, except in AllofMP3’s model the consumer is always in control.
- You Can Sell Music By Giving It Away. Last week AllofMP3 announced that they were essentially giving their entire catalogue away for free. Users can download an unlimited number of songs in a low bitrate mp3 format for no cost. Of course there’s a catch, the songs will only play in AllofMP3’s proprietary player. While it sounds a bit like SpiralFrog ad supported music model, I have a feeling that it will also turn out to be a great way to sell music.
Given AllofMP3’s success over the past six years, there’s obviously a market for this kind of service. Rather than trying to shut AllofMP3 down, the music industry should be studying their business model and learning from what works.