Let the record show that I’m very suspicious about this one. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in touch with a company called Datz who claim that they’ve got a product, launching this weekend, which will give you unlimited MP3 downloads for a year, for a one-off price of £99.
Sounds good, right? Sounds awesome to me. They’ve only got EMI and Warner Music signed up from the major labels, as well as Beggars Group and The Orchard on the indies side, but that should provide a reasonable respectable catalogue for launch – especially as they say they’re in discussions with the other labels.
£99 for unlimited MP3s is quite a good deal. I suspect that limits might show up, but taking them at face value, it’s a great deal, and the first unlimited MP3 deal in the world.
It’s that last factor that makes me suspicious, however. I’ve never heard of Datz, and I like to think I’m relatively knowledgeable in the digital music area. A friend of mine who works in the digital department of a mid-sized independent label hadn’t heard of them, either. Datz aren’t a major player. Why would the major labels sign a deal with an unknown, when it’s likely that the big download sites are pushing for a deal just like this one?
I also have suspicions around the catalogue. Statements in the press release like “a wide selection of new music released in 2009 will be available to Datz Music Lounge members” seem to indicate that it won’t be *all* the new music released in 2009 – just selected tracks, probably ones that aren’t selling well.
Similarly, a statement from EMI says “The product is subscription based and will be a valuable and insightful tool for understanding how consumers explore and react to EMI’s deep and rich back catalogue” – again, a focus on catalogue, not future releases, which is unusual coming from the record industry who are usually obsessed with the next big thing.
I suspect that the catalogue offered won’t be the full EMI and Warner catalogue. It’ll be a selection of back catalogue stuff and certain new releases that they want to give extra promotion to. To give you some idea what WILL be available, the site’s listing Kylie, Elvis, Madonna, REM, The Streets, the Rolling Stones and Katy Perry as downloadable.
I’ll wait and see, on release, what’s going on but for the mean time, colour me excited but wary. This could be a revolution in music, but I suspect it won’t be. In the meantime, go bag yourself a Spotify invite.
By Duncan Geere | October 30th, 2008