THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Napster To Go

I feel like I'm living in Soviet Russia, what with the constant DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN!

A casual observer, someone not college age or younger, who's AFRAID of his computer, having heard all about these so-called VIRUSES, would be of the belief that Napster To Go was a seamless solution to the record industry's woes that is RAGINGLY SUCCESSFUL!

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Napster To Go is a colossal failure. Napster To Go is the last ditch effort by someone whose business model evaporated to try and have a COMPANY!!

Then again, give the Chairman of Roxio credit, HE woke up and realized DISC BURNING WAS DEAD! Yup, that's how Roxio made its money, supplying DISC BURNING SOFTWARE! So, he purchased the Napster name, started a music service and GOT RID OF THE CD BURNING SOFTWARE BUSINESS COMPLETELY! If only the major labels were so prescient. Then again, I've got heads of major companies STILL railing about disc burning. It's kind of like lamenting a loss in sales of BLACK AND WHITE TVs! Or, you could be as stupid as Sony, and not foresee the death of the TUBE TV! Let's see, we charge a fortune for our tube sets, that's how we make our money, by charging a PREMIUM over the rest of the market's wares, which are footballed items, with single digit percentage profit points at best, and we think that this business is going to sustain FOREVER! After all, we're SONY! So, the Japanese company COMPLETELY MISSED the flat panel business. Oh, they were in it, but the same way the major labels are in the online business. What happened to Sony?? They PURGED the company. That's how Howard Stringer got his job. Not because he was doing such damn fine work, but because his predecessor SCREWED UP! Then again, Sony's STILL screwed up. Charging more for its MP3 players than Apple! This is almost like Hyundai charging more for its coupes than BMW. I mean if you're a newcomer to the market, don't you offer more for LESS?? But not Sony, because Sony thinks it's GOD! But have you checked the company's stock price recently?? It's in the toilet, the board was FREAKING OUT! Why in HELL are the LABEL BOARD CHAIRMEN not freaking out? You've got the usual suspects, denying the future whilst constantly stating that the sky is falling, putting their fingers in the dike while just around the corner, water is flowing freely, yup there's just a dike holding back a small PORTION of water. Wouldn't everybody but OSTRICHES be concerned with the REST of the water?

Then again, isn't it funny that the major labels consider the dude who ENABLED disc burning their friend. Just like Shawn Fanning is now their friend. God, how long is it going to be before they wake up and realize the P2P services are their friend???

And that they are. Because that's where the ACTION IS!

Today Napster announced that it had increased its subscriber base 53%! Wow, AMAZING! But what if I told you that record on your label is exploding because now it's selling FIFTEEN copies a quarter instead of ten, would you be impressed THEN? What if I told you instead of selling four cars a month, you were now selling SIX? Would you care THEN? There's no significant BUSINESS here. They signed up 143,000 customers. IN THE WHOLE QUARTER! Let's say they're all paying $15 a month, and they're not, because then they would all be using the To Go feature, and most are not, THEN you'd have $2,145,000 of revenue a month. AND, let's assume all these new subscribers subscribed for ALL THREE of the quarter's months. THEN you'd be booking not quite $6,500,000. Well, that's not completely chump change, but what was the price of ACQUISITION?? Oh, they spent $30 million on an ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN!!!

Oh, but you talk about the price of subscriber acquisition at satellite radio. Well, satellite radio's competitors are terrestrial radio, which is hamstrung by commercials, and Internet radio, which still has to pay music fees and IS NOT PRESENTLY AVAILABLE IN CARS! Whereas Napster and its To Go service are fighting P2P, which PRECEDED it in the marketplace, and is available NOW!

Yeah, but the RIAA says that lawsuits have eviscerated P2P, it's over.

Well, in November 2004, 5,445,200 people were trading files at ANY GIVEN TIME! (Mp3Newswire Article)

ONE BILLION tracks are traded a month! (http://p2pnet.net/story/4315)

Isn't touting the so-called success of Napster like claiming you've cleaned up a zit on the foot of someone with LEPROSY?? I mean the statistics are SO out of whack, why is it that the media even pays LIP SERVICE to the RIAA's b.s?

But they're going to win in COURT!

But every expert out there says file-trading can't be eviscerated.

I mean what is it going to take for the record industry to get in bed with another person they used to call a prick and make some REAL MONEY! Make no MISTAKE, there's incredible DEMAND for music, that's what the file-trading numbers show. Believe me, people wouldn't take it if they didn't WANT IT! The key is to monetize THIS! Oh, ten percent of the people will NEVER pay. Just like certain people you know will NEVER subscribe to HBO. But, most people are willing to pay for something good, something they WANT!

And they don't want Napster To Go. It's not compatible with the iPod. And after spending money, you don't own anything. You're just renting. God, didn't the movie business illustrate that the real money is in OWNERSHIP??? Sales of DVDs ECLIPSE the revenue from renting VHS tapes. Films sold on DVD can do up to, and sometimes OVER, ten million copies in a WEEK! Ten million people a week weren't renting hits before. And, DVDs COST more than rentals! SELL THE PEOPLE THE MUSIC, THAT'S WHAT THEY WANT!

Furthermore, Napster's numbers are TRUMPED UP! Of the 143,000 new subscribers, 56,000 are COLLEGE STUDENTS! (Motley Fool Article) HELLO! Have you been following this? This isn't a regular purchase, it COMES WITH YOUR TUITION! AND, the students don't even pay full price, Napster cuts them a DEAL! It SUBSIDIZES their subscriptions! (Actually, Sony BMG coughs up subsidies: (Wall Street Journal) So, that hypothetical $15.00 a month, that $6,500,000 in revenue? Those are FANTASY NUMBERS!

Well, the labels have gone on record that they're TRAINING PEOPLE TO PAY FOR MUSIC! While you're at it, why don't you train kids not to have sex. God, the abstinence program has worked REALLY WELL! Now people are just having a ton of ORAL SEX!! Because it doesn't fall within the abstinence programs' DEFINITION of sex. (Daily News Article & Baptist Standard Article)

Or, let's just go to North Korea and get the people to say they're happy with the food they've got. Oh, some are brainwashed, but many are escaping to CHINA for MORE FOOD and more OPPORTUNITY! THINK about that, when CHINA looks good, how bad must things BE?? (NYTimes Article)

It's a faceless monolith the RIAA, spewing fake news across the land. Makes me puke.

Contact Bob Lefsetz | View Lefsetz Letter Archives

NOTE: The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinion of CelebrityAccess, Encore or its employees.

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