The first of the three CNET articles about online music is State of the art: A medium reborn. It talks about current efforts in online music and the genesis of the Apple iTunes Music Store. Here’s an interesting bit:
Jobs initially wanted to sell music that had no restrictions at all, with songs that could be played and used as easily as free files downloaded from Kazaa using standard MP3 technology. Warner executives said no, but they eventually compromised on a set of rules that had fewer limitations than those granted for any previous store they sanctioned.
Jobs, of course, has it right. He’s generally pretty in touch with what people want, I think. Note that iTunes has quickly become the standard bearer for paid online music, and I bet that is in large part because their songs have fewer limitations. Many people think that subscription services are the way to go. The problem is that subscription services have to have all sorts of restrictions on the files, because the files need to stop working when you stop your subscription. Regardless of how that is implemented, it will be less convenient than an MP3 file.