Doing the Math

Washington Post columnist Rob Pegoraro does the math and finds that Napster To Go Doesn’t Add Up

I have been purchasing CDs for about 20 years now, in which time I’ve accumulated about 300 of the things. At an average of $15 each, I’ve spent $4,500. Now suppose that, instead of buying those CDs, I could have opened up a Napster To Go account back in 1985. My total bill would be $3,600 and counting — and although I might have accumulated a larger, more diverse collection, I wouldn’t own any of it.
I have a hard time accepting that. At its best, music has the same lasting value as books or paintings or any other sort of meaningful art: It isn’t a disposable good that you use and then forget about. It’s something that you keep listening to and discovering new things in. When music is good, you want to know that it can’t be taken away from you.

John Gruber looks at the Subscription Small Print:

with a subscription service, you’re renting music, not buying it. So, for example, you could join Napster To Go tomorrow, pay $180 to maintain your subscription during the next year, and during that time, download tens of thousands of music tracks. But if you cancel your subscription next year, all of that music will stop working. It will stop working on your computer, and it will stop working on your little Napster-compatible portable player. (And thus even while you are subscribed, you need to frequently re-sync your player to your network-connected PC, even if you haven’t downloaded more music, just so your player’s DRM software can check the status of your subscription.)