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A simple solution to the MP3 file sharing debate

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31 replies to this topic

#1 of 32 OFFLINE   MichaelPe



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Posted September 11 2002 - 06:00 PM

I apologize if this point has been made before, but I wanted to know your opinions on a suggestion I made on another message board. It seems that record companies (and the artists) feel that MP3-sharing websites and programs (Napster, Kazaa, etc) are a threat to CD sales. So, record companies feel that they need to shut down these sites and sue them in order to reduce this threat. Obviously, the availability of MP3s on the internet makes it possible for users to download songs and burn them onto a CD - without having to buy the CD. But, there are many who download MP3s and still buy CDs, and these people feel that MP3 file-sharing actually contributes to increased CD sales. So, the suggestion I had made was: to limit the audio quality of the songs available. At 192kbps, an MP3 track sounds pretty close to CD-quality (to the average listener). However, at 96kbps, the song will sound noticeably inferior, yet listenable. So, if Kazaa, Napster, AudioGalaxy, etc all limited the bitrate of the songs to 96kbps, the problem would be pretty much solved. The reason is that, people who care about audio quality would go out and buy the CD, because burning a 96kbps MP3 would be no different than taping a song off the radio. By limiting the bitrate, MP3 file sharing would not pose a threat to CD sales, because buying a CD would mean that consumers would be paying for a higher-quality product. As it is now, a lot of people don't see the point of spending $15 on a CD, when they can download MP3s and burn them on a CD for less than $1 (and both CDs sound equally good). So, what do you all think? Is this a feasible solution? Technically speaking, I think that it would be very simple to implement a "bitrate limit" on a software like Kazaa or Napster. I'm sure that many people would complain if such a limit were put into effect, but at least it would be a good compromise for everyone.

#2 of 32 OFFLINE   JohnE


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Posted September 11 2002 - 06:23 PM

Hmm, this actually does seem like a good idea. I know I would never hang on to mp3's I downloaded at 96kbs, but it would still give me the chance to preview the music I'm interested in, which is all I really want anyway.

#3 of 32 OFFLINE   NickSo



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Posted September 11 2002 - 07:19 PM

Same here, i'd hate to download 96kbps... Its a good idea, but i don't think kazaa would wanna limit their users...

#4 of 32 OFFLINE   Andrew Chong

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Posted September 12 2002 - 01:28 AM

Once upon a time, I was unfamiliar with the music of Electric Light Orchestra, Fatboy Slim, Moby and many others. Ever since downloading and listening to a few complete tracks by these artists I have gotten hooked. Now I have a growing retail CD (meaning legal, official, and bought from brick and mortar shops) collection of these artists and am willing to buy anything whether on CD or DVD by these artists. I now consider myself a devoted and loyal fan. One other thing, the tracks I had downloaded were of good to excellent quality. I'm not sure if lower quality tracks would have made as much of an impression on me.

#5 of 32 OFFLINE   Greg_Y



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Posted September 12 2002 - 01:32 AM

What advantage does this give the end-user? What do you or I gain by using this type of client? I don't see how you're going to "sell" this to the masses. There's already a ton of P2P apps out there that have no limits. And just like Kazaa is hacked to get rid of adware, so too could an app like you suggest.

#6 of 32 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted September 12 2002 - 06:24 AM

hmm...not a bad idea! unfortunately i think it's too late. by now, everyone is used to higher sampling rates (or at least having the opportunity), so to try to convince the populace to "back-track" is going to be nearly impossible. mp3's - when used correctly, can be a boon to the industry. i've bought coldplay, aimee mann and morcheeba just in the past few weeks because of mp3's.

#7 of 32 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted September 12 2002 - 07:02 AM

IMO its useless to try and fight the MP3 issue. If they want to increase sales lower the price of the CD to a more reasonable amount. Simply put I'm not going to spend $15+ on a CD unless its something I really want. More often then not I buy used in which case the record companies still don't get me $$

#8 of 32 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 12 2002 - 07:06 AM

It is not the MP3s that are the problem, it is who is distributing them. There is nothing wrong with a high quality MP3 being made available by the owners of the work, it is when every person who acquires a CD deems themselves the distributors and makes the songs available to the masses, in whatever quality they feel appropriate, that there is a problem.

#9 of 32 OFFLINE   Justin Lane

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Posted September 12 2002 - 08:14 AM

This is actually not too bad of an idea. Personally, I would say that MP3s have introduced me to new artists that I would not have previously taken a risk on buying their works, hence resulting in the purchase of more CDs. I would be naieve though to think everyone thinks this way and is not completely satisfied with MP3. The ultimate solution is not to place bans on what file sharing applications can provide, but is to instead lower the price of CDs to around the $10 point where it is a no brainer to buy the real deal. When some places ask over $15 for a new CD, many times only containing a couple worthwhile tracks, the value is not there. J

#10 of 32 OFFLINE   Philip_G



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Posted September 12 2002 - 08:54 AM

I don't even like 128k MP3's any more, I can hear that digital-y sounding distortion in the highs and it drives me crazy.

#11 of 32 OFFLINE   Graeme Clark

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Posted September 12 2002 - 10:33 AM

Kazaa already limits it to 128k. Kazaalite removes that limitation. And the people that "steal" music off of P2P programs as a substitute for for buying CD's probably aren't going to be persuaded much by a slightly lower quality file. These are the same people types of people that have made copies of copies of copies of stuff taped off the radio, watch bootleg movies recorded with a Handycam, and play computer games with half the stuff ripped out of it so that it's a smaller download. And how many are actually downloading full albums and burning them? Most people I know download songs, and then make a mix out of them. When they get bored, they download a bunch more and make another mix (without the careful planning explained in High Fidelity). Downloading entire albums is a pain. Most people who share don't have everything, so you have to do individual searches for each song, find someone that looks to have a good copy, queue a couple up and wait to see who's connections aren't already being used. It's easier to just go out and buy the damned thing in most cases. I'm sure some of the big time pop artists lose some album sales from this. But most of them seem to be doing alright dispite all the stealing that's going on. Personally, I do not find $15 too much for a CD (and always have to roll my eyes when people complain about the price)... but only if it's good. I've been burned by filler CDs too many times, and have used MP3s and the internet to avoid that. If I get a few songs and really like them, I'll be sure to buy the album. If not, I'll delete the crap and keep the one song that I really liked.

#12 of 32 OFFLINE   Martin Fontaine

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Posted September 12 2002 - 01:26 PM

Yeah, they're the 3rd class J6Ps who download DivX Rips and Camcorder Boots of movies instead of going to the theater. The bitrate limiter would be useless, because those care about quality (MP3s sound bad to me, even at 320kbps) will buy their CDs anyway. Those that listen to burned CDs usually sort their search result by file size and take the smallest file because it's quicker to download(!) Instead of putting viruses on CDs to prevent use in a computer, making deals with ISPs forcing them to install packet sniffers and terminate accounts of people who download MP3s they should make their advertising centered around the whole lazy/stupid aspect of settling for that low quality. For example, show the "Free Movie Night" on the computer, at low quality vs the proper way in a high tech theater. Then show the low quality of MP3s played on a great sound system vs the proper CD... And use a slogan that makes the DivX/MP3 leeches sound like idiots.
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#13 of 32 OFFLINE   Mark Coleman

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Posted September 12 2002 - 06:45 PM

To someone's earlier point about the price of c.d's being ok, well I totally disagree. If you look at the amount of profit taken from each album sold after artist are paid and the cost of making, its horendous. The music industry needed a kick up the butt after ripping us off for so long. Ever since c.d replaced vinyl they have abused there position. I have too many bad albums I have spent my hard earned pennies on. I only buy now after previewing on mp3 this should encourage the record companies to 1:lower the price dramatically and 2:Not turn out rubbish based on 1 hit wonders. The honest desire to make music should be enough for any artist and to make a reasoble living from that is fine, way to much emphasise is placed on screwing every last penny from the public. Music has always been around even before people got fat and rich on the proceeds.

#14 of 32 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted September 12 2002 - 07:04 PM

an even better idea would be releasing low bitrate samples of the first 30 seconds of a song. I think that would give those who are truly interested in downloading samples enough to make a reasonable judgement. In reality these restrictions are a good idea for the recording industry but it's of no benefit to the consumer so it will never happen. Why would i even consider signing up for a service that offered lower quality tracks when i can already get any song i want for free at the click of a mouse?

#15 of 32 OFFLINE   john_focal



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Posted September 12 2002 - 07:14 PM

the majority of MP3's I see available for download are at 128 bit rate. IMO, this is unacceptable for keeper material.. but it works fine for me. I do download MP3's. I check out artists that I am not familiar with, and if I like what I hear, I go buy a disc, and remove the MP3's from my drive. The artists, though they get very little of the cash spent for a CD, deserve SOMETHING for thier work. I couldnt imagine being happy with a huge collection of MP3's as my main listening source, they just dont cut it. So, I agree that an even lower bit rate would be fine.. it would let people hear enough to make a decision.
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#16 of 32 OFFLINE   AviTevet


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Posted September 12 2002 - 08:37 PM

The genie is out of the bottle and people's tastes are fickle. Don't like the restrictions on client X? Use client Y! They pop up all the time. Did you know that Napster was a functioning entity up until about a week ago? IE, you could use Napster to find and d/l songs, but the selection was so limited nobody used it... everyone switched. The ultimate solution will include record companies learning to live with MP3.

#17 of 32 OFFLINE   BrianB



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Posted September 13 2002 - 01:12 AM

[quote] an even better idea would be releasing low bitrate samples of the first 30 seconds of a song. [quote]
What, you mean just like sites like Amazon & CDNow already do for most new releases?
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#18 of 32 OFFLINE   Jonathan Perregaux

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Posted September 13 2002 - 02:36 AM

That will never work because then some other file-sharing program will pop up unfettered, without the bit-rate limitations, and people will flock to it to get their high-quality MP3's. I have a feeling that this is one genie you can't cork back up in the bottle.

#19 of 32 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted September 13 2002 - 05:09 AM

You simply can't stop people from copying that easily. No matter what solution the stuido's come up with there will always be a fix a few days later on the web. Its futile to keep trying to stop the pirate problem and IMO they should fix the cause of the problems namely 1) lower CD prices or sell singles at a cheap price 2) increase quality of the music...lets face it most CD's these days contain one or two popular songs and the rest are fillers. Of course if SACD and DVD-A become popular as a distribution method that will slow the spread of CD copying...but its still only a matter of time before they work around that.

#20 of 32 OFFLINE   Nick L

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Posted September 13 2002 - 05:37 AM

Its not us. We are all the ones who will buy the cd if we like it. Its everyone else. Umpteen millions of others who's $5 computer speakers can't tell a difference between 96 196 or 320k mp3's. They are the ones that aren't buying the cd's at all. They download them and thats it. They have the songs they like and don't care about anything else. How can we stop it. We can't. No more than we can stop people chatting endlessly on message boards. People have gotten used to downloading mp3's. And the majority of downloaders,(at least I think the majority) people between 14-34 that are pretty computer savvy and can use more complicated methods of retrieving songs if they wish. There is no way to stop it, they may slow it a bit. But for every one file sharing program they stop 25 more just are getting started. File sharing is not illegal and programs that offer unrestricted file sharing should not be eliminated. Its comes down to your own morals. Are you gonna download a song. Well no one can stop you.
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