For years, the recording industry has searched for ways to earn from the way people get their music online. You don’t need to be a starving music artist or a laid-off record company exec to know that CD sales have steadily plummeted over the years, and that most people download their songs off the Internet, often illegally.
While established industry giants like Apple and iTunes have developed a system that has made it possible for artists, record companies and the music-listening public to work with some semblance of order—and somehow make it profitable again particularly for the artists who create the music—there is still much that needs to be done in order to curb music piracy.
A new service launched by mobile giant Smart and leading music company MCA-Universal doesn’t promise to solve the problem overnight, but I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Smart Music is basically a service that lets subscribers download songs directly into their mobile phones. According to the press release, the partnership between the two companies allows the more than three million songs in MCA music’s global catalogue available to Smart subscribers and other mobile brands under the PLDT Group (including Talk N’ Text and Sun Cellular).
Smart mobile phone users can directly download songs for as little as P15 per track, supposedly the lowest peso rate in the digital music market today. Newer songs can be purchased at P20 per track, still a lot cheaper than if you download from say, iTunes, which charges the customary 99 cents (USD) per song. What really impressed me about the service is the fact that users can pay for the service through their prepaid load or post-paid bill. No need for a credit card.
This service can only be good for the industry. For one thing, consumers have easy access to music. They could be lounging around in their home or fiddling with their phone while in a meeting or hanging out with friends and if they suddenly think of a song, downloading it is a snap (particularly with the lightning-fast speed of LTE). And they don’t even have to feel guilty about it because they can buy a song for as little as a bag of chips or a bottle of mineral water.
The other thing is that artists are at least assured of revenue for the music that they create.
It may not be much, but it’s certainly better than the nothing that they get from illegal downloads. It’s a win-win for everybody. Perhaps it’s too much to hope, at least for now, that Smart can work out deals with the other music companies who distribute music outside of MCA. Imagine how disappointing it could be when you search for a song and find out it’s not available (though with three million songs on their register, that’d be pretty slim).
As a subscriber of the other network, I’m a little bit jealous. Being a huge music fan myself, and one who needs music at all times of the day, I can only hope my mo-bile phone company can also offer some-thing similar for its subscribers. And soon.
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