Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

What Are You Doing With Your Smartphone? Not Paying for Music.

The music industry’s next big hope is pinned to your iPhone, or maybe your Android handset: A crop of companies, with various amounts of buy-in from the big music labels, think you’ll pay a monthly fee to listen to music on your smartphone.

But that’s going to require a big change in customer behavior. New numbers from Nielsen (via Digital Music News) show that fewer than half of Apple (AAPL) iPhone and Google (GOOG) Android users streaming music to their handsets, and just a third of them are buying songs over the air. And those numbers shrink considerably if you talk about smartphone users in general (click on chart below to enlarge).

The Nielsen numbers don’t say how many smartphone users listen to their own music–that is, music they’ve moved onto phones via PCs and laptops. Presumably that’s a large number. But rdio, MOG, Spotify, Rhapsody, et al won’t work if people are using their phones to listen to their own collections; they need people to pay up for an unlimited collection. That may be a tough sell.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work