Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Times They Have Already Changed

Today the New York Times tears down its pay wall, meaning that you no longer have to pay for access to its most prized content, such as name columnists like Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd. They reckon that the subscription take-up was good but it makes more sense to be able to allow more people access to their site and sell advertising on the basis of the traffic. It seems that Rupert Murdoch is looking at doing the same thing with the Wall Street Journal and if he does then the Financial Times may not be far behind, which would mean that the idea that you can get consumers to pay for online access to highly prized sections of newspapers or magazines will finally be a dead duck.

Elsewhere, Spiral Frog has finally launched. Remember they talked about this as the salvation of the record business a couple of years ago? The idea is that you get the music for free but in return you have to watch a load of advertising. I'm not going to let the fact that I haven't used it stop me predicting that it won't work. For why?
  1. It's only on PCs. (Want to know why nobody's talking about the BBC's IPlayer?)
  2. You can't put the music on an iPod.
  3. You can't burn it on to a CD.
  4. If you don't return to the site and watch more advertising within 30 days, your music is locked up.
  5. You can't access it outside the USA and Canada.
  6. Any innovation which meets with the approval of the major labels is doomed by definition.
  7. I'm not even going to mention the name.
Meet me back here in six months and tell me I was wrong.


  1. Ah, the internet business model! Things would be mightily different if it had all started with a pay-for-content view on things. Personally, I'm the internet companies' worst nightmare, as I hardly ever click on internet advertising, but click away madly at hyperlinks in news and features.

  2. I'm afraid it's like free newspapers (and today's new free men's magazine, ShortList). If we want content for nothing, we're going to have to put up with ads. It's now the way of the world.

    I'm looking forward to your wise views on the prospects of ShortList, Dave. Mine are here, for the time being.

  3. Instead of Spiral Frog, have you tried WE7 ( which is partly funded by Peter Gabriel? The tracks are mp3s with a short advert at the beginning (not over the start of the track). It does not have any major label tracks at the moment but there is some interesting stuff if you are willing to spend some time looking for it (the main downside at the moment), eg the last couple Morrissey albums. I don't work for WE7 but am happy enough with the service to suggest giving it a go.

  4. Anonymous11:58 am

    I have also had a look at we7 and I was really impressed by the fact that you are able to play the tracks on any device and you can keep them, without being forced to come back to the site. I also like the tastemaker section where you review unsigned bands. Cool feature! Spiral's main problem (apart from the dodgy software amongst others) is that people want music on the go. I am quite prepared to listen to advertising as long as I can actually do something with the tracks! I read that on we7 after having downloaded a track for 4 weeks you can redownload the same track without the ad too. Its all looking very interesting...