Last week we launched Oboe, an
ambitious effort to get your music
everywhere. I've spent
the last week talking to press and users about it. Here are some of the
interesting feedback, facts and questions.
Robertson's reply after his Dad
explains Oboe to him
successful implementation of a potentially profoundly
way of interacting with one's music collection. ...Overall,
MP3tunes/Oboe is a brand-new idea with huge potential, implemented in
an elegant and user-friendly way. It will be very interesting to see
how this plays out in the coming months. If the service is
responsive to user feedback, I could imagine it actually becoming
'hub of my digital lifestyle'."
- Blake Leyh,
one of the first reviewers of Oboe
"I don't think Oboe
is that significant because it's really just a
digital version of what I can do in the physical world by carrying
around my CDs."
- Reporter for major
who covers record labels
Biggest current Oboe
locker: 40.28 GB
Average file size:
Common press and
Q: How can Oboe
afford to offer unlimited storage for $39.95 per year?
Won't big users cost you money?
A: Oboe's flat-fee pricing model is similar to a restaurant offering a
buffet price. There will certainly be "buffet beaters" - people
eat more food then they pay for, but on average the music locker should
be small enough where we are able to offer a good service for $39.95
Q: Is Oboe the first
music locker service?
A: In 2000, MP3.com
launched my.mp3 and David Pakman
Both were music locker services that acquired millions of users, but
were eventually shut down. Today a locker makes even more sense with
widespread proliferation of broadband enabling users stream their music
from more places and sync their music to multiple machines quickly.
Q: Wasn't MP3.com
sued for its my.mp3locker system? Why is Oboe different?
A: Yes, MP3.com
was sued for my.mp3, but Oboe is different because
consumers are requesting that we store their files which are uploaded
one by one rather than from a master database of CDs the user and
company had previously purchased.
Q: How does Oboe
compare with some of the other locker services?
A: Besides the music locker, Oboe also has a great list of
music specific features not found elsewhere, like a full-featured web
page playback so you can access your entire music collection from any
browser, a sophisticated "Tune up" technology to make sure your tracks
have complete artist, album, track name and even track number info,
side-loading from Firefox, and much more!
There are many types of online locker services: photo, video, email
and even all-purpose sites that will store any type of file. But music
requires a tailored interface because it is a unique type of content
that you want to use repeatedly from multiple locations. Plus, you want
the music to not just be in a folder on a computer, but to be on every
device you want. Oboe makes it easy to sync your entire music library
and playlists to any PC, and only Oboe does it effectively.
Q: Did DVD Jon build
A: The Oboe project was well underway before Jon Lech moved to San
Diego to work at MP3tunes. Jon pulled a few all-nighters like
almost all the employees at MP3tunes to get Oboe launched.
Q: Is there a free
account so I can try it Oboe out to see how it
A: You can sign up for a free account at MP3tunes.com.
You will be able
to sideload and webload tracks using the nifty Firefox plug-in. So you
can collect your favorite music files from around the net and load them
into your locker. Then you can access your music from any web browser.
You will not be able to sync your music with the free account - that
functionality is limited to premium users.
Q: Does Oboe work with DRM files?
A: Digitally restricted files can be synced into Oboe and then synced
to other computers. But they'll have the restrictions they had when
they were purchased. Oboe doesn't alter any restricted files.
Restricted files will be displayed in the web interface in italics but
will not be playable.
Q: Does Oboe allow
A: There is no sharing of music files, only the owner has access to
their locker and that requires a password.
Q: Couldn't a user
give out their password to multiple people?
A: The same question could be asked today with Apple's .mac accounts,
Google's Gmail account, Microsoft's Hotmail accounts or every ISP, cable
company and DSL company who all typically provide storage as part of
their service. All of those places provide areas that users can load up
with music files to redistribute if they choose to do so. And, in fact,
most have ongoing file sharing happening - check out G2G Exchange.
This is much less likely with Oboe because we don't allow anonymous
sign-ups like some of these other services. We don't allow "read-only"
access - a password is ALWAYS required. We charge $39.95 per year for
accounts while some of those others are free. And we have access
controls built into our service. Additionally, account sharing would
violate our terms
of use and not make economic sense for us because we would lose money
paying for bandwidth. So we're very economically motivated to make sure
that doesn't happen. We need everyone to pay for their own account for
our business to work.
Q: Have you heard
from the labels or RIAA yet?
A: No, we have not.
Q: Do you think that
Oboe is a good development for the labels?
A: Yes because it opens enormous economic opportunities
to break out of the "every song for a dollar" iTunes strategy. By
giving consumers more value such as files with less restrictions,
higher quality and online storage, they can charge substantially more.
A good example of this are cable companies who rarely raise their
but often charge more and give consumers more value in the process.
Q: What is your
locker envy ranking?
A: I'm a "Back-stager" with the 105th-largest music locker.
Q: Where did the
Oboe name originate?
A: Oboe is a musical instrument which plays the A note from which all
other instruments in an orchestra tune. We thought this was an
appropriate analogy since we hope Oboe will be the music source from
which all your music devices access your music.
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