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A reason to buy

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Universal is releasing the new Bon Jovi album on special CDs that may combat piracy and encourage fans to buy the CD instead of downloading the MP3. But the CDs aren’t encrypted, disabled, or altered to keep you from ripping them.

Instead of treating their customers like crooks, Universal has decided to reward people for buying the CD. Each CD will include a unique serial number that can be used to sign up for exclusive offerings at Bon Jovi’s site. Fans who buy the CD will get the first shot at concert tickets, be able to download unreleased tracks, and more.

Says Business 2.0, "It’s one of the first times a record label has shown that it can compete with free—that is, the free music widely available on the dozens of file-swapping programs—by offering products and services that consumers can’t get anywhere else. It’s also one of the first times that a label has attempted to fight digital piracy by doing something other than filing lawsuits or targeting individual users." (Business 2.0 - The Music Industry Turns a Corner)

September 20, 2002 10:19 AM

Daft Punk did the same thing with their Discovery album. When you pop open the jewel case inside is a "credit card" and you can use the number on the card to download remixes and more. I didn't know this when I bought the album (twice actually, once on vinyl and once on CD), but I thought it was a cool addition. This wouldn't make me go and buy a cd, because sooner or later all that free content that you get with the price of the CD is going to be available for download somewhere other than the Bon Jovi website.

Adam Kalsey
September 20, 2002 10:36 AM

The downloads certainly would be available elsewhere pretty quickly. Besides, the downloads are for unreleased tracks, which typically means they weren't good enough for the album. :) The CD also gets you access to a members only section of the Web site where you'll be able to get better concert tickets and such. Things that can't easily be illegally copied. What's unclear is how secure the registration system is. Can more than one person register with the same serial number? And are registrations checked against a list of real serials or does the system use an algorithm that can be cracked? There was a Willie Nelson CD that stored the serial on the CD itself and the registration used CDDB-type technology to verify the serial. Pop in the CD, and it would read the serial right off it. The problem was that if you copied the CD, you'd get the serial number too. And the registration system didn't check for multiple registrations under the same serial. So if the Bon Jovi system has a similar problem, then all someone needs to do is post the serial number along with the mp3s and downloaders get the whole experience. I'm not a big Bon Jovi fan, but I'd be curious how the system is set up. Anyone want to help me test it? After you buy the CD and register online, send me the serial and I'll try and register using it.

Adam Kalsey
September 20, 2002 10:48 AM

What I find most interesting about this isn't the registration system itself. It's the fact that someone in the record industry has figured out that punishing customers resticting their use of the music they buy is a bad idea. Instead, listeners are being rewarded for being a customer and a fan.

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