Music should be shared: Zune gets it; iPod doesn't

Music should be shared: Zune gets it; iPod doesn't

Summary: Music is, of course, a deeply personal experience. But far more instructive of the human condition than that, music is all about sharing.



Music is, of course, a deeply personal experience. But far more instructive of the human condition than that, music is all about sharing.

Ever since our species learned to communicate musically, we have been sharing music- in our celebratory and sacred rituals, to listening parties, through the "you got to come down to the club and hear this great band" invites many of us still extend to our friends and partners.

And if you drive by your city's concert hall tonight, you'll note that there are thousands of people inside. Most are either in couples or small groups-where one in that couple or group told the other(s) about this act, or this concert appearance.

And that's what so cool about Zune, the portable music player that Microsoft formally announced earlier today.

Zune has a wireless-enabled, player-to-player sharing feature that, um, iPod does not.

Here's how it works. You get within transmission range of another Zune user. This feature allows you to send certain tracks to that user. They will be able to play that track up to three times in three days. They won't be able to forward this music, but the restrictiveness of wireless-enabled music sharing via Zune is not the point.

My point is that with enabling of this feature right out of the box (literally as well as figuratively), Microsoft understands that as species, we love to share our music -not necessarily by telling our friends to download a track  from an online store because we know they will love it, but by furnishing them the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

And since you are going to already be around this person when you forward them the track you are so enthusiastic about, the wireless feature enables a type of shared musical experience that iPod doesn't offer yet. 

Topic: Legal

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  • You sound like a freakin' hippy

    Sorry, there seems to be a disconnect here. A personal stereo, a device designed to be used by one individual, a device that provides a personal soundtrack and by its very nature, isolates the user from the rest of the world, that device is all about sharing? Sorry, you're barking up the wrong tree, at least when it comes to personal devices like this.

    However, you are correct in that many do enjoy sharing music. They will, of course, continue to do this, but not via Zune, which restricts the recipient to only hearing the song a mere 3 times before having to pay for it. Instead they'll just keep doing what they're doing now, swapping unrestricted files for free on p2p networks.
    tic swayback
    • Those aren't the teenagers I've seen...

      they all seem to be doing their own thing, but doing it together.

      Tic, I think you're the one that doesn't get it. Wake up and smell the MySpace.
      • You're right, I'm not hip with today's youth

        I agree--I don't get kids raised on reality tv, kids who want to broadcast their lives to the world. I find this odd.

        That said, those same kids are the ones who populate all of the p2p networks. Do you really think they're going to go for beaming a locked up version of a song to a friend that can be heard 3 times before it costs money, or do you think they'll just keep freeloading and getting the same song for nothing, with no restrictions whatsoever? We're talking about a generation that has been raised on having no respect for copyright.

        The only way I can see Zune taking off is if there are readily available hacks that remove the DRM from the shared songs. Then perhaps they'll have something.
        tic swayback
        • The two are not mutually exclusive...

          ... but look at the success on MySpace of posting comments to each other's pages. I think it's not much of a leap to envision sending your friend a song to cheer them up. If you could attach a picture or a one-liner message and "beam" it across the classroom, I think the kids would eat it up. Like passing notes.
          • Why do it with DRM?

            Considering you can e-mail someone an mp3 file, why would anyone instead send them a song they can't keep for themselves? I do get the concept, and make mixed cds for friends all the time. But I would never give them a cd they had to give back.

            Which is why this device will fail. Someone else will put together an easy handheld device for text messaging, or for e-mail that is combined with an mp3 player (if there isn't one already). Or you'd just use bluetooth. If demand is there, it won't be for crippled files.
            tic swayback
          • You're still thinking old-school...

            It's not about the music, it's about expressing yourself by being able to share it spontaneously.
            The fact that the song expires is what makes it a message, rather than a new "thing" you now own. I think that's actually part of what will make it succeed in a social context. It's like your friend letting you take a taste of his ice cream cone.

            Plus, there's all the social interaction that comes from liking a song and then going back to the person that gave it to you to ask for it again. What a great excuse to get back together with someone you met and liked.

            So, I still think the kids will love it. And they'll have no idea what a DRM is, and if they do they won't really care.
          • Kids will bypass the DRM

            They will get the song. The message has been sent and recieved. If they like the message (aka the song) they can get a non-drm copy off any P2P site out there or even download a copy legitly or rip it from the CD they bought.

            Still Microsoft is setting themselves up for failure I think. Tic made a comment that someone will come out with a DRM free version of this that will win over Zune. I could see that happening too.
          • Kids know a lot more than you think

            ---And they'll have no idea what a DRM is, and if they do they won't really care---

            Sorry, no. There's a reason why there are 70 million kids on p2p networks instead of on iTunes. They know all about DRM and want no part of it.

            As I've said elsewhere, if there's real demand for this, someone will make an add on that does the same thing without all the restrictions, and that will be what sells, not a locked down, crippled device.
            tic swayback
          • All those kids on p2p's...

            just want free music. I'll still bet many of them don't know what DRM is.

            In one way, you're right, that DRM won't have an impact for the Zune at all, because they can download the song for free with a p2p. But you're still not getting it that it's the social interaction of being able to share a particular song on the spot with someone that you may have never met before that makes it cool. That's what the kids will latch onto.

            You're all concerned with rights and ownership and money. Kids are concerned with impressing their peers in real-time with how cool their taste in music is.
          • I still give the kids more credit

            And what I'm saying is, if the kids really do want to do what you're claiming they'll want to do, they'll quickly find a way to do it that gets around the restrictions. They're used to the way p2p works, and that's what they'll expect from a broadcasting/sharing handheld. Why would they settle for less than what they're used to elsewhere?
            tic swayback
          • Kids don't care...

            Its that over 50, classical music loving, upper-middle class, director of a record company way of thinking that shows how out of touch you really are.
          • Judge by their behavior, not by either of our guesses

            Well, just take a look at what the kids are actually doing. Are they buying DRMed music, or are they getting it illegally through p2p networks? Their actual behavior shows that they are not interested in purchasing or owning crippled files. Why do you think the Zune will cause a massive societal shift in behavior?

            Oh, and the over-50 crack was harsh. I'm in my early 40's.
            tic swayback
  • are you on crack???

    LMAO.. that is the most useless feature i've seen on an mp3 player in a while... that would not compel me to buy an mp3 player.. even if the iPod had it, i can't really thing of when i would be using it.. the real reason for wireless is as other have stated.. so MS's keep their thumb on users with subscriptions to cut them off if the don't pay their bill.. don't get it twisted... this is transparent, they aren't fooling anyone..
    • You are very...

      confused. Truly. In a paranoid sort of way.
      • jcg_z , you are the one that is confused...

        None of my friends, who by the way are all under 20 years old,
        have any interest in this feature, and neither do I.
        It is, as someone else said, the most useless feature I've seen on
        an mp3 player for awhile.
        You are very out of touch with youth if you believe that 1.) this is
        a killer feature, 2.) that kids don't know what DRM is, and 3.)
        that if they do know (which they do) they won't care about it.

        Just keep stroking away while staring at that Windows logo...
  • Whatever

    Sharing music isn't about 3 short plays of DRM protected music.

    I wouldn't waste the battery power on that.

    That seems to be the most useless feature on the Zune [b]period[/b]
  • wireless?

    I thought this was going to work like a little radio station -- allowing people to make playlists available to others (friends or total strangers) in coffee shops and subway cars and whatever. Or does it do that too? That seems more in "tune" with the notion of sharing, and appeals to this vanity fueled need people have for others to hear their music (because God my music is so cool and so am I). Rather than a boom box though it's only if the other people actually want to hear it.
  • Good article.

    Go Zune! Starting from November 14, those lame apple fanboys will gradually become an extinct species. And their lame whitey thing they call ipod (an abomination) will be used as an expensive paperweight. 'nuff said.
    • umm, yeah...

      So you trying to get flamed or just that ignorant?
  • I can't believe ZDNet posted this article...


    You're really stretching to find any redeeming value for the Zune. Your armchair psychological analysis of people's primal need to share music is really "out there". I give you an A for effort but an F for constructive content.