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Le blog d’Olivier Levy

Co-fondateur de Capsule B & Shoppingfeed

En faisant le ménage dans mon ancien ordinateur, j’ai retrouvé mon mémoire de fin d’étude (ESC Dijon, Sept 2004).

En cette période où les DRM vont enfin disparaitre, où tout le monde parle de rémunérer la musique grâce à la pub (moi je n’y crois pas une seconde, mais bon…) et où les Majors du disque cherchent encore LA solution, j’ai pensé que ce mémoire avait sa place sur ce blog, et donc sur le web. J’ai mis uniquement la deuxième partie, la première n’ayant pas de grand intérêt.

Pour info, ma note avait été de 11/20 !! Une misère quand on sait que je parlais déjà des abonnements avec téléchargement illimité pour la musique alors que Napster et Yahoo ont lancé ce système un ou deux an après ! “Olivier, pensez-vous vraiment sérieusement qu’un système où l’on payerait 1 euro par mois pour tout télécharger est un système viable économiquement ??” dixit mon idiot de prof !!. On n’a pas les profs qu’on mérite parfois…

Bonne lecture (en même temps, vous n’êtes pas obligé de le lire… c’est surtout pour que Google m’indexe tout ça !!). Aussi, désolé pour l’anglais un peu approximatif, mais comme tout étudiant qui se respècte j’avais un an pour faire ce mémoire et je m’y suis pris la dernière semaine avant la date limite !!!….

J’ai mis les 2 idées les plus inédites et intéressantes en gras. Elles se trouvent vers la fin du document

How Majors could make amazing money with music-online

To understand how Major thwarted the “free” music online web sites, as Kazaa, we are going to analyse the proscription solution, then the two main web sites they set up: iTunes.com and PressPlay.com. These two web sites are seen as the reliable solutions against Kazaa-like web sites by the international music industry.

For each, after having described the way it works, we will do a SWOT analysis, relying on the P2P users’ behaviours we saw (Section A). Then, we will present, what could be a successful web site to thwart P2P system (Section B).

Section A

I. The failures: the proscription
1. To sue P2P system
In 1999, several artists, as Metallica, and Majors decided to sue the first P2P system which appeared: Napster. The trial ended with the buying of Napster by BMG. Music industry thought that it was the end of P2P. But very quikly AudioGalaxy, Gnutella, etc… appeared to shit Napster. The result? AudioGalaxy was banned. Gnutella as well. In the welcome page of AudioGalaxy, you could see a text explaining that henceforth you will not be allowed anymore to download illegal music from AdioGalaxy. But you could see as well a link: www.kazaa.com. AudioGalaxy died, but Kazaa was born. Emule also appear in the same time. DC++ as well. Conclusion: you can not sue all the P2P system because they can be created faster than they can be banned. Once, Kazaa, which decided to conter-attack, sued Majors arguing to the fact that they keep on trying to reduce freedom in Internet. Kazaa won!!!!
2. To sue P2P users
A solution could be to sue each costumer. Majors tried to do so, but quickly saw that it did no afraid people. They kept on downloading and during this period, Kazaa had its bigger increased: +158% in one month (01net.com).
3. Anti piracy system
Cannes, France, 13th January 2003. MIDEM, the biggest european music congress. The big five but all the music industry actors are present. The topics: Anti piracy system, P2P, illegal copy… in music. They all are waiting for Midbar, the firm which created the CDS-200 system. This system is presented as the reference in anti piracy. BMG, EMI-Virgin, Universal Music and so on decided to use this system to protect copyrights. A system forbids to play a record on a computer and so to exchange it through Internet. Céline Dion, Björk, Avril Lavigne… all have integrated this system in their last record.
This system which seems promising has in fact several weaknesses. The first one? It is illegal. Private-copy is legal. Music industry, thanks to the Jack Lang’s law in France, perceives even revenue from CD-R sales to compensate this (€0.56 from each-CD-R sold. In France). Universal has been sued and lost against a costumer for that reson. But there is a second weakness: go and look for the last Céline Dion album in a P2P system and you will find it! The same for Avril Lavigne or Björk. It is impossible to protect records from piracy because no system in 100% safe. Hackers will always find way to crack protecting system. And even if this solution works, the previous album will not be protected because they already are in the Net.

So, Majors decide d to create their own web site to offer music online. But we will see that they have been quite awkward and did not take into account the P2P user behaviours we saw in the previous part.
Let us analyse the two main official web sites: iTunes and Press Play.

II. The half-failures
1. The iTunes.com web site.
i. Description of the web site
The iTunes web site was created in April 2003 by Apple. It proposed to download songs for iPod player (see pictures), the equivalent of Mp3 player for PC).
With iTunes, you can buy a song for $1. After that, the song belongs to you, and you can do whatever you want with (burn it on CD to play back on car, send it to a friend by email, listen it in your computer or in your iPod player etc…).
In iTunes, you can find the 5 Majors and some Indies’ contents.

ii. SWOT analysis

• Strengths :

Legal. This web site is legal. For the first time you can get legal Mp3 on Internet. That is the first strength of iTunes. Now, you can not complain anymore that you can not have legal Mp3. From now, you have the choice to get the same Mp3 from legal web site and pay it or from a P2P system.

Well presented. iTunes is a commercial web site. So, it means that it has to be well presented, easy to use and understanding by most of the Internet users. Also, when you download an Mp3, names of the artist, title of the song and of the record are well written. This is not true with Kazaa, for example. Usually, these data are often written in the wrong way, missing, or, the worst, completely wrong.

Copyrights. iTunes redistributes the copyright to the artists who wrote the song. 10% of the Mp3’s price is allocated to copyright. It the main strength of ITunes.com according to the fact that copyrights are the only way to pay artists.

iTunes is a success on Macintosh, because no “illegal” P2P system exist for Mac (1 Million songs sold each week).

• Weaknesses:

Expensive. The price of $1 a song is really expensive. Effectively, according to the fact that a record has 13 songs (average), to get an entire album can cost about $13 in ITunes. A record costs about $19. But for this price, you have the sleeve and the CD already burnt… you have the original.

Not unlimited. The P2P user wants unlimited downloading. ITunes.com presents limited downloading, because you need to pay for each Mp3 you want. This point is not in accordance with the P2P users’ behaviours we saw in the first part of this dissertation.

• Opportunities:
Firms. A firm which needs a song, for example a dance club, will be able to get it from iTunes, in Mp3 format. It is fast and legal. It will allow the firm to act in the legal way, and be secure in case of it is controlled.

• Threats:

Kazaa-like web sites. iTunes does not bring any added value compare to Kazaa and other P2P web sites, which are free and unlimited. iTunes fa

iled in trying to make its web site worth. They charge the customer when he downloads music, but, except the titles right written, they are not better than Kazaa. When P2P will appear in Mac, iTunes will die!

To have firms as clients is not enough to be successful in music business. Music is more a good for final clients than intermediary clients. The main threat to iTunes is simply to disappear!
To conclude, we can say that, except the fact that iTunes offers legal Mp3 on line, it did not integrate well the P2P user’s behaviours. And if they want to thwart P2P system, people who set up iTunes has to integrate its clients’ behaviours… it means the P2P users. But iTunes do not offer neither worth offer, nor unlimited downloading which are the most important expectation from P2P users: the real challenge in music online is more about unlimited downloading than price.

With this example of iTunes, we saw that a web site not offering unlimited downloading could not interest P2P users. According to the fact we saw that P2P users’ behaviours are the next global behaviours of each Internet users, music industry had to find a way which matches unlimited downloading, worth web site and added value compare to the “free-unlimited” P2P system. It seems to be impossible to thwart P2P system. But, two music Majors firms found a solution. This solution is called “Press Play”. Unfortunately, we will see that this solution is not the right one either…

2. The Press Play web site

i. Description
Press Play is the premier on-demand music online web site. It is an equally held joint-venture between Sony-Music and Universal Music. It was launched in January 2002. Offices are located in both Los Angeles and New-York, USA. You can find the 5 Majors content and also some Indies label contents into.
In Press Play, you can listen all the music you want for a monthly fee of $10. But you have to pay an extra charge if you want to own songs (if you want to burn it on Cd or send it to a friend, etc…). This charge is around $5 for 10 songs.

ii. SWOT analysis

• Strengths:

The 3 first strengths are “Legality”, “Well presented” and Copyrights” as iTunes.com

For the customer, Press Play is the same as a radio, but you can choose yourself what song you want to listen, when you want and how much you want. It is definitely a new way to listen music.

For Music industry it is a new situation: there is no middleman anymore selling theirs products!!! Firms sell directly to the final customer!!! They reduce the distribution channel and, thus, increase their margin. That is a new economic model; from the music industry is taking advantage.

Finally, Press Play offers the most important point: unlimited downloading! Press Play presents the entire Majors’ catalogue for a set price. It was, for sure, the most difficult concession they never ever needed to do!

• Weaknesses:

You can listen songs you downloaded with your computer, but they do not belong to you. It means, you can not burn them on CD nor put them in the Mp3 player you use for jogging, nor share the song with a friend, and so on (it is extra charged)… It just a kind of link. Compare to P2P which enables you to do whatever you want with the Mp3, it will be quite hard to compete with.
? The price: $10 per month is too expensive. Do not forget that P2P is totally free and unlimited as well. Press Play has to find a better added value.

• Opportunities:

Computers fit more and more in a living room. It is going to take the seat of the stereo system living room. The Press Play web site could become the new network to listen music in the living room, and, more generally, in the house.

Firms using much music in their business (Dance club, pub, restaurant, mall…) can be interested by that system.

Sony and Universal have a bargain power in front other Majors, because they equally held Press Play.

• Threats:

To be piracy. What if a hacker finds the way to share his Press Play connexion? For example with students living in the same university? Or with friends or neighbours? It is an important threats.

To not be competitive enough against P2P, which are unlimited as well, but are also free.

To conclude on the Press Play SWOT analysis, we saw that this web site, which is a partnership with two Majors, brought a new way to sell music: breaking the classical distribution channel. We saw as well that the opportunities were interesting, according to the fact that computers are going to shift the stereo system in the house. But the most important is the fact that Press Play broke out a taboo in the music industry: unlimited download. This is the most important point for P2P users. As we saw, P2P is more about unlimited download than price. We could say that Press Play did many concessions and that it is going to be the right solution to thwart Kazaa and other P2P web sites. Effectively, if ITunes.com appeared really fast as a bad solution, the Press Play web sites had some good ideas. Moreover, if we take into account the Forester’s research saying that Internet users would accept to pay around $7 per month to have unlimited music in the Net, Press Play can be seen as the right solution. However, we think that Press Play, even if it would cost $7 per month instead of $10, is not the right solution.

Two reasons:

• First, we make some doubts about the result of the Forester’s research. Effectively, we think that it can have a gap between what people say and what they would really do. We honestly think that $7 is too expensive (and $10 even more). We do not know if Press Play is a success, because the results are secret, but what we can say is that we do not know anybody having subscribed to this web site, and, personally thinking, we would not subscribe such a web site.

• Second, Press Play is missing a real added value. A real added value could make such a web site worth and be competitive against Kazaa and others P2P systems
What can be such an added value? Is there any other solution? How can we set up a web site better than P2P, which are free and unlimited, if the 2 solutions we saw previously do not work?

The solution showed in the next Section (Section B) might be the right one.

Section B

It might feel impossible to thwart P2P according to its advantages: free and unlimited. We saw that the fact that web sites as iTunes or Press Play were well presented (right title of the song, name of the artist, etc…) or unlimited (as Press Play), was not interesting enough for P2P users. P2P users would always prefer Kazaa which is free and unlimited as well. Moreover, you can do whatever you want with the Mp3 you downloaded, which is not the case with any official music online web sites. A solution could be to sue all the P2P systems, but Majors tried several times, and it never worked, exept the first time, against Napster. Another solution could be to find a protection for the next records launched. But first, we think that no protection can be found in the long term (hacker finding always a way to break it) and secondly even if the protection works, it would protect only the new records. The entire previous catalogue will not be protected, and keep on being exchange for free in Internet. So, what can be a realistic solution?
The next solution we are going to present could be the right one.

I. The M2C solution

Let’s name this web site M2C.com (Majors to Costumers, by opposition to P2P). To name this web site will make easier the following explanation.

1. A worth added value
Majors want to get revenue from their web site. Firstly they need to pay the artists’ copyrights and secondly they want to make business. Customers, and P2P users, will not agree to pay for music if they can hav

e it for free. According to the Forester’s research, people will be able to pay $7 for unlimited music. But, if they can have the same for free, why would they pay $7?
Music industry has to find a real added value. This added value will have to be important enough to justify to get paid, will have to be non numerical (to avoid it to be shared in Internet, as Mp3) and will have to generate high revenue for the Majors. This added value is the sleeve of record!!!!
Sleeves are the added value which could make the web site to thwart Kazaa-like web sites.
• Sleeves belong to the Majors. They can, therefore, do whatever they want with (produce, distribute, sell, etc…). Kazaa as any other firm has no right on them.
• Customers like the sleeves. For the artists they really like, they feel like Mp3 is not enough. They would like they lyrics, the credits (who wrote which song in the band, for example), some pictures, etc… They like also to have a CD library in their room or living room. When people are really fan of an artist, people like to have something more than Mp3 in your Hard-drive. A CD with the original sleeve and a box, as before P2P, will always be appreciated by people like a certain artist. When you really like art, you want the original, not a copy!
• Sleeves are not numerical data. So, they can not be duplicated and shared for free in Internet.
We can se that sleeves are definitely the key factor success (KFS) for the music industry. How Majors can take advantage from this

2. Presentation of the M2C web site

The aim of M2C is to use the fact that people will want to have, sometimes, the sleeve of the records they are downloading. So, some people will think “let’s create a web site to sell sleeves!” .But, the idea to sell only the sleeve is a trap. The idea is to build a web site around this KFS, to get the maximum revenue from it. M2C web site will have to offer unlimited downloading music (as Press Play), allows customers to do whatever he want with the Mp3 he downloaded, etc…
Let’s examine each point one by one.

a. Offer unlimited downloading music

Unlimited downloading music exists already (Kazaa, eMule, DC + + ). So, why not control it? Moreover, the web site will have to be worth for customers. We saw in the first part that the P2P users’ behaviour forced music industry to offer unlimited music So, to download music in M2C.com will have to be unlimited.

b. Allows burning and sharing Mp3.

We saw that with iTunes, you could download Mp3, but then it was impossible to burn it on CD, put it on an Mp3 Walkman, sent it to friends by email, etc… Majors wanted to avoid all that way to duplicate music. But it is a dangerous idea. People can not accept the fact to not own and do whatever they want with theirs music. They do not like to be limited. What would you think if when you buy a record in a store, you will be able to listen it only in your own stereo system? Impossible to lend it to a friend. For sure, you will feel injured. Majors are doing the same with that system: you can just listen the Mp3 you downloaded in your own computer. People will never ever accept it. Moreover, Major has no advantage to act this way. They just loose clients.

c. M2C.com will have to be well presented

Of course, as Press Play and iTunes, M2C will have to present the maximum information about the Mp3 downloaded (titles of the song, of the album, name of the artist, good presentation of the pages, etc…). Also, it will have to propose the possibility to download entire records, with the songs in the right order, just with one click.
It is a commercial site web. So, it has to be clear, pleasant and easy to use (the aim being to get the maximum of clients, of course).

d. Propose bonus for free

M2C will have to offer bonus according the song you downloaded or artists you like. This bonus could be video-clip, unrealised songs, live songs, etc… People are really fervent of these kinde of bonus. And this bonus does not cost anything for the Majors. It is just some songs recorded but not released and video-clip are even more, because they are used in the music industry as a way to promote an artist, a song or a record (see MTV and other really successful music TV-channels). This point creates an advantage in front P2P and does not need any extra costs.

e. To generate high revenue, M2C will have to stimulate the client
M2C will have to increase average of buying for each client. Many ideas exist (sell tickets for concerts, T-Shirts, books, limited CD released, possibility to download new records one week before them being sold in stores, etc…). These points will be analysed deeper in the following (see: The Revenue).

f. The sleeve web page
Each time a client downloads an entire record, M2C will have to propose to the client to receive the sleeve corresponding to the album. Then, the client, according to the fact that sleeves are charged, has the choice to buy or not it (see: The Revenue)
We presented the points M2C had to follow to be successful. It is a marketing strategy to thwart P2P threat. It reveals a new economic model for music industry: offer unlimited download and take advantage into a KFS which is not the main product, but which belongs to the Majors and which can not be copied: the original sleeve.
But, to be useful, a marketing strategy has to be financing reliable and generate revenues. So, let’s analyse now how M2C can generate (high) revenues and be interesting for P2P users in the same time..

II. The revenue

The aim of this part is to prove that M2C web site is able to match two different expectations: to generate high revenue for the Majors and to be really cheap for customers.
The total revenue directly gather from M2C will be split into three parts: the subscription, the “new album part” and the extra-products
Let’s analyse what are these three parts about.

1. The part of the revenue gathered from the subscription
The M2C.com web site will have to be inspired by the subscription system used in the mobile phone (Vodaphone, Orange…): it will be a one year subscription minimum for unlimited downloading music. The price will be around 5€/month. For this price, client will have access to the entire music-catalogue of the 5 majors (Sony-Music, Universal, BMG, AOL-Time-Warner and Emi-Virgin).

2. The extra-products

This part is done to increase the average-purchase of the client.

a. Sell sleeves
When a customer clicks on the link launching the download of an entire album, M2C will have to propose the possibility to buy the sleeve corresponding to. At the end of each month, the client will receive the sleeves he bought. We think that one shipment a month of all sleeves ordered is a better solution because it reduces postal-costs and in this way, the postal-expenses could be free for the client.
Of course, the client will be able to buy sleeves even if he did not download song from the record.

The price of one sleeve could be 2€ .

b. New album
This part takes advantage into huge fan of artists. It means the one who will want to have the new album of his favourite artist as fast as possible. This page will propose to download a new album one week before it to be in music store. For example, the new album of Madonna is launched the 17th of July 2004 in music stores, clients of M2C who ordered the new album in numerical, will receive/download it automatically in their computer the 10th of July 2004. They will have also the choice to buy or not the sleeve.
To download “new album” will cost around 3 or 4 euros (depending of the artist notorious).

c. Tickets concert and by-products

M2C will have to propose T-Shirt from artists, by-products like bracelets, sweat-wear, etc… and also of cou

rse concert tickets, DVD, collector-edition records; etc…

d. Example

Here you are an example of a client of M2C:

Mr Martin

Year subscription: 12€
New album 3€*1=3€
Sleeves 2€*6=12€

Total 27€

As you can see, we only focused in this example on revenue from music, and nothing from by-product, to make the comparison relevant.
It appears than Mr Martin will consummate for 27€ in one year in the music industry (directly to the Majors. No distributor). In this example, we took, to be not too optimistic, a small music consumer. What are the average consumptions around the world in music business nowadays ?

Less than 35 € per year in France !!!

With M2C a small customer spends 27€ per year!!! And keep on buying records in sales as he did before with P2P system, because 1€ per month is really cheap.
Moreover, with M2C the distribution channel is reduced, because Majors sell directly to customers: they improve their margin about 40% (the same with by-products sales).
To finish, we have to remember that music industry, thank to the lobby of the IFPI, earns about 20% of each CD-recordable sold, because most of them are used to burn downloaded music.

And the sales in stores will still exist, because some people, for some artists, will always want the real CD: the original. Again more cash for Majors. Also, artists will be more known because their music is more share. It means bigger live-show, in bigger stadium. Again more cash for Majors. Everybody happy!!!!

But, to work, all the following rules have to be respected. If one of them is not, even the less important, all the system failed. So, once again, follow every single next rule. Please believe me: if one is not followed, the system will never work.

III. M2C will be efficient only if some rules are respected
1. Keep on increasing new artists
People will subscribe for one year minimum. So, if Majors want the customers to subscribe every next year to M2C.com, they will have to propose regularly many new albums from their artists. Big stars like Rolling Stones, Madonna or U2, can not launch a new record every year. So, if the customer feel like this year feel like just one album of U2 and one of Madonna will be launched, he will think it is no worth subscribing M2C this year (he will better by them in store, and download other songs in Kazaa). So, Majors will have both increase new artists number and increase “Band Loyalty” in general.

2. Offer live video, unreleased…
It is important for the customer to have extra products in M2C. I twill make this web site more attractive, and without any important investment, because live video, video-clip and unreleased song are without extra-costs.
3. Major agreement
A web site in unison with the 5 Majors will be necessary. Otherwise, people will need to subscribe to several web sites (one or Sony Music artist, one for Universal artists, etc…). Press Play, proposed the 5 Majors’ artists; it means that such a agreement is realizable.

4. A Special redistribution for the copyrights
The redistribution of the copyrights will not be able to be done according to the download, because download are free and unlimited. Otherwise, an artist will be able to cheat, downloading his own songs, to increase his copyrights. One of the ways would be to redistribute copyrights from M2C according to the stores sales (which will always exist). Effectively, it is a fare way to redistribute money gathered from copyrights, because no cheat can appear in store sales.
Also, copyrights from “New Album” could be redistributed directly to the artist.

5. Stimulate stores sales
Majors will have to stimulate stores sales, with bonus or anything else: copyright from M2C depends on sales store.
M2C has to succeed in these challenges. If one of these challenges failed, the web site will be less and less worth compare to P2P.


To conclude, let’s do a SWOT analysis of M2C, to see if we did not miss any threats.

• Strengths:

The 3 first strengths are “Legality”, “Well presented” and Copyrights” as iTunes.com

Unlimited downloading and the possibility to do whatever you want with the songs (burn, share…) for a set and really cheap price.

Propose the same offer than Kazaa-like web sites, (unlimited music of almost all songs which exist), but with a better presentation and a better interactivity (propose the video from the song download, unreleased songs, etc…), for a cheap price.

M2C is financing reliable. We saw that it increase the average client-purchasing per year in the music industry.

There is no middleman anymore selling Majors’ products. They reduce the distribution channel and, thus, increase their margin.

The fact that only Majors can propose the sleeve of records and that people want them for some artists, Majors create a real added value with it. They become more competitive than P2P even if they are not completely free.

CD-R taxes will increase their turnovers.

Increase new artists. Majors will have to launch regularly new artists in order to maintain customers’ desire to subscribe to M2C.com. This will increase musical diversity.
Stores sales will still exist.

• Weaknesses:

M2C is a way to take clients from P2P, but do not “kill” P2P.

M2C is cheap but not free. People for whom the added values of M2C are not enough will still prefer P2P systems.

• Opportunities:

M2C could become the new way to listen music.

Firms using much music in their business (Dance club, pub, restaurant, mall…) will be more interested by M2C than iTunes.

Power radio will be reduced. People will have the choice to listen the song they want when they want. So, the interest for radio will be lower.

M2C can become a present parents could do to their children, when they see that they are starting being interested by music (like with mobile phones nowadays).

• Threats:

As Press Play, M2C will have to be protected against virus and piracy.

There is a risk that people do not subscribe every year if M2C failed on maintaining people interest: they will subscribe on year, download all the songs the want, and the next year to think that there is no new interesting album which makes M2C.com worth this year.

We can see that M2C has many advantages that make the web site interesting (cheap price, interesting for customers thanks to the real added value and financing reliable for Majors, reducing of the distribution channel…). But M2C has also to maintain customers’ interests with new album, new artist and bonus (like video-clip, unreleased songs, etc…): Majors will not have to be miserly with customers.
What we can see also is that M2C.com will develop even more music instead of threaten it (more diversify, more different and new artists, cheaper and more interactive). Business ethics is respected with M2C: we sell Art, but we develop it in the same time (do not forget that M2C clients have a common point: they love Art). It creates brand loyalty from the customer. More than the apparition of the CD, music online is more than a revolution: it creates a new business model: sell music without any support (CD or DVD), for a really cheap price and in a democratic way. We saw that M2C business model was economical reliable: it will increase Major profits (small distribution channel, increase of the average client-purchasing per year…) and fit with the P2P user’s behaviour (real added value with the sleeves, cheap, unlimited…). Moreover, indirect-revenue from piracy will still exist. Major and Indys get €0.56 from each-CD-R sold. In France, SACE

M received 144 Million € in 2002.
But we saw also that Majors will have to face to several challenges, especially concerning music variety, unlimited downloading and allows copying.
iTunes is adjusting its offer. Appel decide recently (August 2003) to allow copy and exchange of songs downloaded from iTunes.
This solution proved its financing reliability. If music industry accept these challenges, it will certainly increase its profits in the long term, and customers will listen music in the most free way they never ever done it (equality, cheap, unlimited and more diversify).

Olivier Lévy, Juin 2003

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