HITS Daily Double
“Pressplay is a music experience. We tried to find lots of fun ways for people to enjoy the experience of finding the music.”
——Andy Schuon


Burning Taken Care Of, Itching Is Next
Allow me to answer one of your burning questions.

Pressplay, the online sub service brought to you by the fine folks at Vivendi Universal and Sony, along with their affiliates, will allow users to burn music to CD, despite previous speculation to the contrary.

“Common sense told us we needed to be able to offer that as one of the core components of Pressplay,” explains CEO Andy Schuon. “We were looking to build it as an easy-to-use, one-stop place with a seamless application.”

Journos got their first glimpse at the Pressplay interface this week; Schuon says the service will launch this month, though the actual date is still pending.

The service’s catalog of musical offerings includes some 100,000 ditties from Sony and UMG-affiliated labels, EMI and such indies as Roadrunner, Matador, Razor & Tie and Rounder, among others.

The online music “experience,” as Schuon dubs it, is slated to become available to consumers via affiliated sites, which include MP3.com, Yahoo! MSN.com and Roxio. Affiliate Microsoft’s Windows Media application provides the format for the music files, while Roxio’s application makes CD-burning possible.

Though pricing for the service is also yet to be made public, the company says there will be four tiers—allowing users to pay for larger quantities of downloads, streams and burnable tracks.

Unlike the recently unveiled version of rival MusicNet service offered via RealNetworksRealOne plan (see story, 12/5), Pressplay will not be tethered to one computer, nor will users be made to “rent” tracks on a monthly basis, Schuon says.

A “synch-and-restore” feature will allow subscribers to download tracks on one computer and then access them on another by pressing a button, not unlike “synching” a handheld device with a PC.

Furthermore, insists Schuon, “Your collection grows over time, as long as you keep subscribing. With some other services, you’re limited to 100 downloads per year. With Pressplay, you could accumulate 1,200 tracks over the same period.”

He also notes that if consumers stream tracks for less than 30 seconds, it won’t count toward their tier’s streaming allowance—which means they can sample a great deal more than on rival services in pursuit of music they deem worthy of downloading and/or burning.

The label-backed ventures still face resistance from some artists and managers, who claim the services are offering music without artists' approval (see story, 12/10). While numerous issues remain to be resolved, Schuon is confident that Pressplay will be not only a legitimate and fair means of digital distribution but an attractive value proposition for consumers.

“Pressplay is a music experience,” Schuon reiterates. “We tried to find lots of fun ways for people to enjoy the experience of finding the music.”

In a related story, no one has ever said that about us.