Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recording industry against its customers again

The seemingly never ending stream of aggressions against music consumers from certain recording companies has this time targeted our partners, (a secure, password protected online storage for your music files).

This time it's EMI who wants to ban private online music storage and has sued MP3Tunes for copyright infringement..

When the record industry behaves like this, it makes it really hard for us who try to sell music in a format that people seem to demand: DRM-free, digital downloads in high quality (MP3 320 kbps), at reasonable prices.

The problem is that this kind of behavior is pushing people into illegal file sharing, and gives the music business as a whole a bad name. We don't need that, thank you, EMI. eClassical thinks it's a great service to offer our customers direct links for uploading the music they purchase from us to their personal, secure and password protected locker. We see this as value-adding and not infringement of any copyright. We encourage our customers to do what they please with the music they purchase from us (apart from sharing it on P2P since that is still illegal in most countries).

We think it's great if our customers can store their music online and access it from any computer on the internet, we think it's great that they can move their music around between computers and devices, wihtout the hassle of DRM licenses (you know the type that makes your music stop working all of a sudden). And we think it's great that they can burn the music onto CDs as they wish.

It makes it really weird and hard for us who try to offer a customer focused and friendly music service, when we have to dedicate some of our limited resources on countering the Music industry's attacks on our customers. We have to fight alongside the "pirates" because as it is right now, they are the good guys. We have to explain to people that purchasing MP3s without DRM is actually legal(!), and that we are not part of RIAA (some people have actually emailed us with concerns that the RIAA could find our legal MP3s on their computer, and claim it got there illegally - would we help protect the customer in which case?).

The situation today is really absurd, and the major labels seem to be very busy shooting their collective foot, and going after its (potential and existing) customers.

I hope the climate between customers and the music industry will cool down and that we all will sit down and laugh at this madness in the future.

If you don't have a locker already, please get one! Help support the part of internet still trying to be a benefit to its users. You can read what MP3Tunes's CEO has to say about this farce in a recent post on their forum.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Public Consultation on Creative Content Online

eClassical answered to the EU's public consultation on creative content online[PDF questionnaire]. Feel free to read our answers on our site.


Monday, December 3, 2007

New Bitrate's being tested on eClassical!

We are now starting a test where we encode our files to MP3 320 kbps, which is the highest MP3 bitrate available.

We've got quite a few requests for higher bitrate and this is our response to that. We will evaluate the test based on customer feedback.

We have started with a few CDs but will continue with new releases from the record labels we work with. So when they send us newly released CDs, we will, during the test, encode them in MP3 320 kbps.

Also, the number of composers is now over 800!



Friday, September 7, 2007

And now it's 700

Yep! Over 700 composers by now. And one of these days, I'm going to blog about something more interesting:-)


Thursday, May 3, 2007

And now it's 600!

Yep. We have over 600 composers in our catalog as of today.

Hope this reflects our efforts to broaden our store.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Soon over 500 composers!

It's with pleasure I can announce that we will soon hit 500 composers in our catalog!

We will announce it on our site, but I felt like telling the world right now. It is a fairly large number of composers, I mean, how many classical composers can you name?

We hope to contract more labels during this year and hopefully get more Opera music, which repeatedly gets requested. Unfortunately, the labels we cooperate with today, don't have much opera in their repertoires.

A short post this time, but it was a long time since I posted (been very busy), so I figured better a short post than no post at all.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

The only thing worse than spam

Dear customers!

Our business model is selling DRM-free music in a store open to everybody. We don't demand a certain browser in order for our store to work. It is open to everybody regardless of operating system and browser. Also, we want the purchase process and downloading to be as swift as possible: no login and passwords to remember, just point and click and pay.

The music is downloaded from links we send out in an email upon completion of the payment. You can use any browser to download, no special software is required.

The music files are either zip files with MP3 files, or individual MP3 files. We have chosen MP3 because it does not contain any DRM and also and mainly because it is the most supported file format for music files. MP3 works on nearly 100% of all portable players (including iPod) and a vast majority of the applications used for playing music on any computer regardless of operating system.

So far so good. If it wasn't for the email part. That has turned out to be the weakest link in our chain.

It turns out that most email services and ISP's have installed really blunt and non-forgiving spam filters. As a result, our perfectly legitimate and solicited emails are either bounced, blocked or put in the customers junk mail folder.

So, the customers wait for their email with the links, and after a while they get impatient and disappointed with what they thought should be a quick and swift way of purchasing music.

So, they send us an email and ask us "Hey, dudes, where is my email with the links?", to which we reply and give the explanation of foul play from their email suppliers' spam filters. Only, our reply also gets blocked. So the customer after a while sends us a second email with a slightly sharpened tone to which we reply but the reply never arrives etc etc.

So I look up the contact email for the domain owner, and send them a complaint. Sometimes they read and react to emails. In most cases they either never read them, or simply ignores them.

Then we have some email providers who always bounce our automatically sent out emails with an auto-reply that includes a link that we have to follow manually, regardless whether it's bounced back to us in the middle of the night in our local time in Sweden, in order to prove that our first email was legitimate and not spam. This is both very retarded and impolite.

But we have come up with alternative solutions to our email links. We have noticed that the receipt emails from our payment providers seem to slip through the filters.

Those emails include a code needed to download that identifies the purchase in out system. So I have created a download page on our site where the customers can download using the code from their receipts. This is the backup plan. Unfortunately, not all customers find the link to that page (it's in our left-hand menu, saying "Download purchased music" in bold print).

I think it is worth mentioning our view on advertisement and marketing.

We have no banners or ads on our site that are not our own, linking locally withing our site.

We have a newsletter which we use to send offers to all customers and anyone who voluntarily subscribes. For singing up, we use so called double opt-in. That means you can't just sign someone up. When signing up, we send out an email with a link you must follow to really sign up, so that you need to own and read the email you are signing up (pretty much like the auto-reply spam filter, only slightly more intelligent, since we tell people signing up what will happen, and we just don't do it because we couldn't come up with a better solution).

This is because we understand what pain in the butt spam is, and we really do all we can to protect our subscribers from getting unsolicited emails from us. And, of course you can sign out anytime you like.

But how inconvenient spam ever will be, nothing beats spam filters blocking important and business critical emails.

Please ISP's and email providers, be a little more constructive if you really care about your customers. Take a minute and think about whether you want to be ISP's as in Internet Service Providers, or as in Internet Service Preventer.

As one customer nailed it to the point:

The only thing worse than spam: Spam filters!


Rikard Froberg