PDA

View Full Version : Zune Marketplace Song Sharing: A Test


Jason Dunn
01-15-2007, 03:00 PM
When I was in Las Vegas for the <a href="http://www.digitalmediathoughts.com/articles.php?action=expand,11611" target="_blank">Vista Lab</a> and CES last week, there was a meet up of eight or so <a target="_blank" href="http://www.mobiussite.com">Mobius</a> community members. Not surprisingly, there were also several Zunes in attendance as well. The Zunes came out and the song/photo sharing started. Unfortunately, as people began to share music off their Zunes (purchased from the Zune marketplace or part of Zune Pass), they were met with error after error about the songs not being able to be shared - the group as a whole found Zune song sharing to be a disappointing experience. One frustrated person commented that she had read 50% of the music in the Zune Marketplace was unable to be shared due to DRM restrictions. She was unable to recite the source, and I didn't have any proof one way or another. That number seemed quite high to me, but given how <a target="_blank" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TPJ7GQOuzk">evasive the Zune team</a> is on this issue, I had no understanding of how big the problem was. <br /><br />I decided to do a test myself to see if the 50% figure had any truth to it. Since I don't have a Zune Pass account (and can't without a credit card billed to a US address), my test is limited in scope and should be taken with a grain of salt. I purchased eight songs from the Zune Marketplace Top 30 Songs (most from the Top 10), selected from various genres, and tacked on two <a target="_blank" href="http://www.kttunstall.com/">KT Tunstall</a> songs for good measure for a total of ten songs, nine of them from different artists. I then created a &quot;quick list&quot; on the Zune (the <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/532/my-dusty-white-zune.html" target="_blank">dusty white one</a>) that had the synchronized songs and tried to share the songs with my other Zune (the <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/480/sometimes-my-zune-just-won-t-turn-on.html" target="_blank">dysfunctional black one</a>). The results? Of the eight Top 30 songs, only five were allowed to be shared - that's a 38% failure rate. If you factor in the two KT Tunstall songs, seven of the total ten songs were shared successfully (a slightly better 30% failure rate).<br /><br />Although my test was limited, I believe buying from the Top 30 songs list mirrors the behaviour of many Zune Marketplace buyers - and as such, if 38% of those songs aren't available for sharing, it makes the already crippled wireless sharing even less useful. Which songs can be shared, and which songs cannot, is a decision made by the music companies providing the music to the Zune Marketplace - so the lessened functionality of the Zune lies with them. What I cannot excuse, however, is the fact that the Zune Marketplace doesn't clearly indicate which songs cannot be shared - it's a &quot;buyer beware&quot; scenario right now, and I believe that only hurts the Zune platform as a whole. Microsoft needs to clearly indicate which songs can be shared, and which cannot. Anything less simply isn't honest.

mrozema
01-15-2007, 06:13 PM
Given that information, I'm going to opt for a much easier solution:

Visit the used CD store, buy my music for $8-12 CDN and rip them to my PC. Viola! No DRM and I still get the music I want. I know that doesn't get me the latest and greatest, but I'll still hit up Best Buy or Future Shop for those.

Aside from that, online services that are DRM-free are the only places that will get any of my money. ;)

Janak Parekh
01-15-2007, 07:00 PM
Microsoft needs to clearly indicate which songs can be shared, and which cannot. Anything less simply isn't honest.
They need to go farther than that: they need to enable 100% sharing. Anything less and the technology will die. Can you imagine the average consumer's take on it all after their first failure? Or if they pull up their song list on the Zune and see that 30% of them can't be shared, including one of their favorites they want to share with a buddy?

--janak

dp
01-15-2007, 09:04 PM
I don't know why you think it's appropriate to add two tracks from the same artist to make the percentage better.

These restrictions will clearly be on a per-artist basis. Clearly you don't want to spend money at the Marketplace, but it would be more telling to conduct this test further with only one track per artist.

ucfgrad93
01-15-2007, 11:14 PM
What I cannot excuse, however, is the fact that the Zune Marketplace doesn't clearly indicate which songs cannot be shared - it's a "buyer beware" scenario right now, and I believe that only hurts the Zune platform as a whole. Microsoft needs to clearly indicate which songs can be shared, and which cannot. Anything less simply isn't honest.

Very well said, and I totally agree.

Jason Dunn
01-16-2007, 01:25 AM
They need to go farther than that: they need to enable 100% sharing. Anything less and the technology will die.

I agree with that in theory, but in practical terms that's up to the music studios and not Microsoft. I do hope, however, that the Zune team pushes the music studios hard to allow them to display that information (I assume it's the music studios that don't want the "no sharing" information to be displayed - if it's solely Microsoft, then it's even more inexcusable).

I think that just like the iPod, most of the music on Zunes are not from the Zune Marketplace, so I don't think the technology of wireless sharing will die - if anything, it will just drive people away from Zune Marketplace.

mrozema
01-16-2007, 06:57 AM
I think that just like the iPod, most of the music on Zunes are not from the Zune Marketplace, so I don't think the technology of wireless sharing will die - if anything, it will just drive people away from Zune Marketplace.
Its discouraging me slowly, but surely. Also, the lack of availability in Canada hasn't helped. :(

Jason Dunn
01-16-2007, 10:06 PM
Wow. Quite the first post dp! :confused:

I don't know why you think it's appropriate to add two tracks from the same artist to make the percentage better.

Did you notice that I presented my findings as two distinct statistics? I did that on purpose. The first was based solely on eight unique artists from the Top 30 songs. That statistic stands alone.

The second experiment was simply seeing if two tracks, not from the Top 30, from the same album, had any different sort of sharing privileges on them. Of the two KT Tunstall songs I picked, one was her "hit single" and the other was a B-side (AFAIK). I wanted to see if tracks were DRM'd in different ways if one was a single and one was not. I do not believe my methodology is flawed - if you can point out how, I'm glad to listen.

These restrictions will clearly be on a per-artist basis. Clearly you don't want to spend money at the Marketplace, but it would be more telling to conduct this test further with only one track per artist.

You're making a big assumption about the DRM limits being on a per-artist basis. What facts do you have to base that on? I've seen instances on MSN Music and even iTunes where they've sold the "hit single" as an individual download, but other tracks from the same album are available only as a whole-album download. Or the reverse: the song "Mad World" is hugely popular right now because of the Gears of War commercial - and on the Zune Marketplace it can only be purchased as part of a complete album download. So there's not necessarily a lot of logic at work here.

Now regarding me "not wanting to spend money" (which is clearly a dig), the only way I can purchase Zune Marketplace tracks is by using points purchased from Xbox Live points cards purchased at retail from stores in the United States. I'm in Canada, and the Xbox Live points purchased at retail here will not work. I had to register a new passport account just to be able to do this. And that means getting friends to buy the Xbox Live point cards for me, which is a hassle. As such, yes, I was limited in terms of how many songs I could purchase for this test. I need to keep some points in my account for other tests. I do believe, however, that purchasing 26% of the top 30 songs (8 of 30) is a reasonable sample size from which to draw some conclusions.

If you'd like to perform your own test with a much larger pool of songs, I'd definitely encourage it. In fact, it would be great to have as many people as possible do their own version of this test - especially those with Zune Pass accounts that could try this with 100+ songs.

Damion Chaplin
01-17-2007, 12:24 AM
Hey, I conducted my own test over here...

Turns out 100% of the songs I ripped from CDs can be shared wirelessly with other Zunes... Go figure. :D

Seriously, I find people who spend their hard-earned money on music that isn't guaranteed to be playable on their next device to be just plain silly. Or very short-sighted. Or happy sticking with the same company for the foreseeable future (e.g. iPod + iTunes). Either way, you pay for DRM-restricted music, you get DRM-restricted music. No two ways about it.

Don't want restricted music? Don't buy it.

Janak Parekh
01-18-2007, 05:34 AM
I agree with that in theory, but in practical terms that's up to the music studios and not Microsoft...I think that just like the iPod, most of the music on Zunes are not from the Zune Marketplace, so I don't think the technology of wireless sharing will die - if anything, it will just drive people away from Zune Marketplace. You may be right on both points, but I suspect enough people purchase music online that they'll get frustrated. Honestly? If Microsoft couldn't get 100% of purchased music to share, I think they should just not enable it. It's a complexity that will quickly confuse consumers and then they'll ignore WiFi completely. I'd much rather have seen an online store, more so than sharing. Sharing's a fantastic idea in theory, but it has to be implemented in such a way that it'll be virally effective. It is not so, now.

--janak

Janak Parekh
01-18-2007, 05:36 AM
Don't want restricted music? Don't buy it. 1. You're talking to the wrong audience, Damion. ;) 99.5% of my music is ripped, too.

2. Still, I do download singles on occasion, when I don't care for the whole CD. From what I read, this seems to be the most popular application of a music store. Moreover, I don't want to have to differentiate between purchased and ripped music if I wanted to share.

--janak