Ruckus has launched (again) as a college download service. It’s intended as a way to get students to stop downloading illegally by offering them a free download service. Free – meaning advertisement based. In their new model, they are doing a rev share with the labels and offering “free content” to students. “Free” in the sense that you don’t pay, but wrapped in Microsoft DRM so it can’t be copied (without paying more anyway).
So, it’s really an attempt to create revenue that is not dependant on sales to Colleges. And to create revenue for a supplier (major labels) dying to try virtually anything to stop hemorrhaging money.
But I suspect it’s going to be slow going for Ruckus in this space. Here’s why: The common thinking in the industry is that users are “stealing” music on p2p networks because it’s perceived as free. While this has some merit, it misses the really big point: the music on p2p networks is unrestricted and unencumbered by DRM.
So – if I am a student and I have to choose between “free and DRM-frozen” and “free”, I am always going to choose free. If it was “free (with an ad)+ value add (such as tie-ins, new content, etc) and DRM-free” or just “free”, then that would get interesting. Just loosen up the DRM and you can do something with it (ie: make money).
Good luck with that Ruckus – you’ve got a steep hill to climb.