'Comes With Music': Free, as in Pay Us Per-Song Usage Rights
If terms of Nokia’s new “Comes with Music” program appear impossibly generous to the consumer, who will pay no monthly fees for Universal Music Group’s entire catalog, it’s because they are.
Though “Comes with Music” does indeed permit owners of certain Nokia cellphones to download as many songs as humanly possible in one year (with no per-song data charges), transfer them to a PC and keep them at the end of that time, they must pay a per-song usage fee to burn them to CD. What’s more, the songs are wrapped in Microsoft’s ironically named “Plays for Sure” digital rights management scheme, which prevents them from being played on the iPod, Zune, etc. Finally, another 12 months access to the UMG catalog requires the purchase of a brand new phone.
All of which makes perfect business sense–after all, Nokia’s not in the business of giving away music–though it certainly would like to be perceived that way from the looks of the company’s press release. “This is how the consumers will consume music going forward. This is a step toward where this business we believe will be moving to in two to three years time,” Rob Wells, Universal’s SVP of digital, told Reuters. “Consumers will have access to all the recorded music available through the price of the device, or the price of service, or the price of broadband.”
And they’ll pay an additional price to use it as they see fit.