When I got my mp3 player, I decided to go ahead with the free trial of Napster that came with it. At first, I was pretty happy; unlimited downloads for most music (some was still purchase only), free streams, and an easy but slow audio-to-device transfer software. So when my free trial was over, the $20 per month fee seemed a good deal and I kept the membership.
Then the updates came.
Actually, the recommended update was meta-data that helped Napster keep track of what was on my mp3 player. If I did not link my device once a week, my device would give me a message saying I needed to synch the device to Napster and then refused to play the music. So, if I didn’t pay attention to when I last synched my device, I would find myself on a trip with all the desired music and no way to play it.
My kingdom for a horse…
But I figured, what the hell, it’s still a good price and I just had to condition myself to make a habit of synching my device.
Then the transfer device went funky, dinosaur slow too. It would take 5 minutes to load an album and only one album per logon! I couldn’t tell if it was a software problem but Napster’s support center didn’t seem to have any more clue than I did. So, I had to log out after each album if I wanted to download more than one.
But it was still cheaper than buying each individual albuml, so I stuck with it.
And then they installed more meta-programs. If I wanted to play one of my music files on a different, better sounding, software than Napster’s player, a prompt would pull up asking if I wanted to check for user rights to play the song… it would pop up after every song! So, there was no point in trying to play an album on anything other than their player as they took away the convenience.
It was the final straw, I called them up and told them I was finished with their product. The representative asked me why I wanted to end my contract with them and the answer was long, but simple.
I paid for the music, it was legal. However, it seemed that anytime I tried to listen to the music I was being prompted, blocked or checked up on; almost like I was on some sort of parol. Sure, I could listen to music but it was under their terms as trying to listen with other products, while still being legal, were made to be extremely inconvenient. The inconvenience that came with the service was not worth the price, no matter how seemingly cheap it was. Music is about fun and feeling, not user rights, legal obligations or checkups.
And some wonder why people choose to download music illegally. At least the only time you get hassled is if you get caught.