SanDisk's music-on-flash gamble - will it work?

SanDisk's music-on-flash gamble - will it work?

Summary: SanDisk and several record companies are announcing a new way to buy MP3s: slotMusic. They are loading the music on flash memory - micro-SD cards it looks like.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware
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SanDisk and several record companies are announcing a new way to buy MP3s: slotMusic. They are loading the music on flash memory - micro-SD cards it looks like. Will this work?

Compared with downloadable MP3s, there are a couple of advantages.

First, you get the flash media. That is worth something. Secondly, presumably you get a decent copy of the album art and whatever liner notes exist - if people still do liner notes.

Many of us already have devices that can play MP3s off flash. So there is no need to buy and learn another device.

These are not large advantages but they are more than you get with MP3 downloads.

The Storage Bits take I give SanDisk props for trying, but not much chance of success. Bits just want to be floating free on the network. Not tied down to a chip.

The record companies have a difficult business problem: they make more money selling albums than single tracks. But single tracks are what people buy on iTunes, the nation's largest music retailer.

The brick and mortar stores that sell music also have a difficult problem. Most people have decided that iTunes provides a better music buying experience than stores do.

You can listen to samples, get good suggestions for similar music, easily buy single tracks or entire albums and rapidly download and distribute your new music to multiple devices.

No packages to unwrap, no credit card to swipe, no physical stuff to store.

The record companies are wasting their time trying to hold back the tide. They need to be looking at, as some already have, whether it even makes sense to put some artists on iTunes. Make people buy an entire CD album in order to get the popular song and, perhaps, discover what else the artist has to offer.

Once the music is on iTunes the labels can put together compilations of popular and not-so-popular but deserving tracks to encourage buyers to expand their musical horizons.

What is not going to happen is a return to the days when people would buy physical media as a general rule. Downloading is too convenient and practical to be replaced by any physical media.

Comments welcome, of course. Update: I added the name and the format of the flash device.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

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14 comments
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  • MP3 files are small enough to download

    But I wonder if something like this might work better for movies. Probably never happen, though, because it would be too difficult to apply the draconian DRM required by the MPAA
    brble
  • Buy the whole album?

    I'd say that the days of being forced to buy the whole
    album are gone. I personally don't want to buy a whole
    album just to get one track. There are already so many
    ways for people to 'discover' new music such as last.fm,
    the iTunes store, and yes - the radio (I have one of those)!
    I don't feel like I need to be held by the hand and have my
    horizons expanded by some big faceless company that just
    wants more of my money. Record companies need to focus
    and monetize the hit tracks that people want, not try to
    convince us to buy crap music that will just fill up our hard
    drives and never be listened to.
    sechoinard
  • Will it work on movies?

    The slotMusic effort is too little too late. But would it work
    for movies?

    I digitized my CD collection last year and now that I have
    my home theater set up - 10 foot screen, 5.1 sound - I've
    started thinking about ripping my 843 DVDs (Delicious
    Library keeps track - not me).

    At an average of 4 GB per DVD - a guesstimate - it would
    take about 5 TB to store them - 4 1.5 TB drives would do
    nicely. Maybe next year.

    8 GB flash drives are a long way from the $0.20 a DVD
    costs. The movie industry needs to look ahead though to a
    world of high-bandwidth links to avoid the problems the
    music industry is facing.

    Robin
    R Harris
    • Wow, I wish I had thought of that ;) nt

      nt
      brble
  • no way

    Seriously? I almost laughed at the marketing on their
    website because this seems like an idea that is at
    least 5 years old (if not ten).

    Maybe... maybe this could work if the tracks were of
    superior quality (to differentiate from CD's or lower
    quality downloadable tracks)... but this seems like a
    really bad idea.

    I can't even give kudos for trying. Ill conceived.
    K_REY_C
  • Bad Idea!

    This has to be something aimed at computer novices who can't figure out where their music downloaded to when they bought an album from Amazon.com...

    I alleviated my biggest concerns when I set up Norton Ghost to perform backups regularly of my music folders. If I had a micro SD card, I guarantee I'd lose that before I lost my backup!
    sgtgary@...
  • RE: SanDisk's music on flash gamble - will it work?

    It sounds great for those that live in areas that don't have broadband access. I frequently download from escapepod.org and PodioBooks.com, and the files are often corrupt or cut short due to a poor connection. Not a big fan of iTunes though...
    EdNetman
  • How many necklaces should they carry?

    1,000 of them? Nightmare!
    joemartn
  • RE: SanDisk's music on flash gamble - will it work?

    The mp3 format is fine for cars but not for a home stereo system. I still want the highest quality recording in a format that is semi-permanent. I can always rip mp3's for the car or my personal player when I exercise. If they come with WAV or similar files then this format has a chance, I think.
    Art Royce
  • RE: SanDisk's music on flash gamble - will it work?

    [i]The record companies are wasting their time trying to hold back the tide. They need to be looking at, as some already have, whether it even makes sense to put some artists on iTunes. Make people buy an entire CD album in order to get the popular song and, perhaps, discover what else the artist has to offer.[/i]

    All this will do is encourage people to download the tracks illegally. You made the point that people want digital, not physical. Someone will rip it and we'll be back where we were 5 years ago.
    Real World
  • RE: SanDisk's music on flash gamble - will it work?

    Hmmm...this may or may not be a profitable move on SanDisk's part. There are two questions that initially come to my mind when presented with the idea:

    1. Would the microSD cards be protected in a way that would prevent someone from being able to back up their songs (let's face it...microSD cards can be easily lost/broken) or even delete them should the owner no longer wish to have a song on their microSD card?

    2. Will the cards be "made-to-order" before purchased or will they be sold with preset tracks/albums?

    If someone is unable to backup their purchased music, this would most definitely be a major strike against the concept.

    If the songs are made-to-order, I can see that as a major plus for the concept especially if you are allowed to add songs from your own collection after the card is sent to you.

    But in my opinion SanDisk would have to offer some sort of incentive for the idea to even work, such as leaving [significant amounts of] available space on these microSD cards to allow the consumer to write their own data. Otherwise I can't see myself (or many people in general) having a desire to tote around dozens of microSD cards.
    liquidglow
  • Is it the original band?

    I have downloaded albums and the album was wrecked.Songs were wrong or a compressed,squashed mix.Have you ever looked for lyrics on the Internet?They're not always the correct lyrics.
    BALTHOR
  • RE: SanDisk's music on flash gamble - will it work?

    As somebody who listens to classical music I was the highest fidelity possible. MP3s kills classical music with compressions. Ok for my car but unacceptable for my home system. The micro slot will be a godsend for auto use. Less switch of cd while driving and something more reliable than CDR-RW.
    Richardbz
  • Automated kiosk is still the way to go ...

    Here's what it should look like: a Redbox kiosk (4x4x6) with displays and listening headphones on all four sides. Screens have a set of featured albums, priced 4.99 to 6.99 depending on the number of bona fide hits on the album.

    If the user wants to mix and match their own songs, they pull up a larger catalog and select tracks. Ability to listen to 20-second track previews while selecting. Individual tracks cost .99 per track, but with sweeteners for volume (buy 10, get one free).

    Output is to 9-slot media adapter, or you can have it burned to a CD for an extra $1.00, case included. Machine doesn't have memory cards, you buy them in the store. Machine also doesn't take bills, just credit cards and gift cards (can be purchased in store).

    Extras include lyrics/graphics files ($1.00) and ringtones of all selected tracks ($3.99). Retailers like Walmart are afraid such a kiosk would cannibalize CD sales (they will), so the target market should be corner stores like Walgreens. Amazon could put together a solution in a matter of weeks, serving it all via wireless, just like Redbox does.

    So where is it?
    terry flores