Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon Almost Giving Away Lady Gaga’s New Album

It’s not free, but it’s close: Amazon is selling digital downloads of  “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga’s newest album, for 99 cents.

That gets you 14 songs and a digital booklet. The same album goes for $11.99 at Apple’s iTunes, which seems more interested in pushing a 22-song special edition for $15.99–that’s the one currently featured on the retailer’s home page.

Back in the old days, when people used to buy CDs, it wasn’t unusual for Best Buy et al to mark down big albums from $16 to $10 as loss leaders less to get people in the doors: The retailers took a loss on the discs in the hopes you’d buy a stereo or a TV, too.

Here, it looks like Amazon is hoping to use the sale to push its cloud music locker. Promotional copy reminds shoppers that if they buy this or any other album, they can upgrade the 5 gigabytes of free storage the service offers to 20 gigs.

Which reminds me:

  • Remember when Amazon’s cloud music locker was a big deal? That was back in March. Perhaps it’s the kind of thing that lots of people are using but aren’t talking about, but my gut is that few people know the thing exists. Which again would be the point of using the world’s biggest (?) celebrity to promote the thing.
  • Remember when the music labels were shaking with anger about Amazon’s cloud music locker? That was back in March, too. It’s possible, theoretically, for the labels to strike out at Amazon in some way–perhaps in court, or perhaps by pulling their music off the e-commerce giant’s digital shelves. But it looks as if they’ve conceded that a legal argument will be tough, and that they’d rather have someone else in the digital market beyond Apple.
  • Remember when Google was going to help the labels by opening up its own digital music store? Alas, not for now. But I wonder how much Larry Page would have sold Lady Gaga for, if he had the choice.

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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