By Jon Newton 8/25/05
Mashboxx is nigh.
"We have our beta software up and working privately at the moment," ceo Wayne Rosso tells us."We're shooting for a Sept public beta and full commercial launch in mid-Nov."
Working with him is Sony BMG ceo Andy Lack and, "This has been a massive undertaking with so many moving parts and targets that's it nothing short of miraculous that we've gotten this far," says Rosso.
The idea is: potential buyers can try before they buy. They can listen to songs before committing and if they then decide they want to cough up $1 per, they make their purchase.
Rosso and Lack are also looking for indies to use Mashboxx, selling at between 50 and 60 cents wholesale per track.
Wholesale prices vary with majors from anywhere from 65 to 80 cents, Rosso told p2pnet a while back. But a garage band doesn't have that kind of overhead and in our case, people can actually download your song and listen to it four or five times and decide whether they'll buy it.
The critical point there is pricing. They may listen to it and decide, Hey that's not to bad. But do I want to spend for 99 cents for it? Or they'll listen to it and decide, Hey! That's not to bad. I will spend 49 cents for it.
Speaking of prices, when we spoke to Rosso in June, was there, "any chance of the 99 cent barrier being lowered to induce the millions of people who currently use the free p2p networks to sign up for corporate services such as Mashboxx?" - we asked.
"It's really simple,: he said. It's transaction costs. Visa and MasterCard make more on the sale of a single than I do. And in all honestly, the margins are so thin ---- The goal is not to lose money, let's put it that way."
We asked, "If they're so thin, why are you doing it in the first place?
Rosso: "There are other ways to monetize, of course."
p2pnet asked for an example and Rosso responded, "It's nothing nefarious - no spyware, no adware. I just don't want to give away strategics just yet."
So, Can you answer now? we asked today.
Meanwhile, CNET is running a story on the birth of Mashboxx and it kicks off:
Andrew Lack wasn't like the other record label honchos, file-swapping maverick Wayne Rosso thought as he left Lack's swank office in a midtown Manhattan skyscraper.
That Lack, the chief executive of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, was even talking to Rosso showed he was more open-minded than most industry executives. That he was talking up the benefits of working together--even schmoozing with the man who used to run controversial peer-to-peer service Grokster--was downright amazing. "'I'm going to make you a millionaire,'" Rosso remembers Lack telling him.
"So I told him, 'I'm all ears.'
There was no more an unlikely pair in the music and technology business in early 2004. But behind the scenes, their growing camaraderie became one of the most important bridges between the warring recording industry and peer-to-peer companies.
Their ambitious plans have yet to be tested, but the existence of this new generation of cleaned-up peer-to-peer companies shows how, despite a still-toxic legal environment, record labels and tech start-ups are finding increasing room for experimentation and collaboration.
Their relationship led to the creation of Mashboxx, a new kind of peer-to-peer company
Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.
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