Majors To Offer Free Music To College Students
The major music labels have agreed to support a new service from Ruckus Network that will offer free music downloads to any college student. The service will be supported by advertising on its website and on player. The four major record labels and several independent labels have agreed to license their music to Ruckus at much lower rates than they charge other mass-market music services on the “theory” that college students would rather steal songs than pay the $10 to $15 a month that such services normally charge.
Ruckus had originally hoped universities would pay a fee to offer free downloads to their students, thereby reducing the legal risks and some of the network expense associated with the use of illegal file-sharing networks, but only a handful of the colleges acquiesced. Ruckus then decided to switch to a free, advertising-supported approach. Although Universities were still required to install a server on their campus networks. That increased participation to about 100 schools.
The new service, which is available now, does not require a university to participate. Rather, it will be made available to those who have an e-mail address ending in .edu, the top-level domain associated with educational institutions. Ruckus uses Microsoft’s Windows Media technology, so songs can be played only on a user’s personal computer. For $4.99 a month, users can buy the right to transfer the songs to portable devices compatible with the Microsoft format, including those made by SanDisk and Creative Technology.
The Future: The music downloaded from Ruckus will not play on Apple’s iPod, or even Microsoft’s Zune player, and therefore, this service is doomed.