Marc
Canter
writes about Ruckus
Networks
plan to offer an online
music service at no charge to students in higher ed.
(Link via Stephen Downes’ OLDaily; it’s a few days old, but I had some catching up to do
after being out sick).

Ruckus is a online
music & video service targeted
specifically at higher ed institutions. (Full
disclosure: Ruckus is a member of the Blackboard Developer Network and a
sponsor of the upcoming Bb World ’06 conference.) Up until recently, students at campuses that had a deal with Ruckus could pay
a relatively low monthly fee for an
"all-you-can-listen" access to the music offered
by Ruckus
. But, according to Canter, whose
company partners with Ruckus,
it looks like they’ll start offering that service for
free.

Canter
writes:

[B]anking on the ”radical (but just) departure”
school of thought – one of our clients –
Ruckus
Networks
has chosen to just
blow off the $3 a month all together, and deficit finance that $3 with ads and
other forms of revenue generation.
Before this change, Ruckus had to go out and
either negotiate deals with the entire college or university (they closed about
35+ of these deals) or offer their service to students – on a person by person
basis.  They don’t compete with the major downloading players – as their prices
are less than 1/3rd what the ‘normal’ downloaders have to
pay.
Ruckus
is a music service that caters directly to universities, as does competitor Cdigix, although consumer
online music services — e.g. RealNetworks’ Rhapsody and Napster — also have
programs targeted specifically at universities. (So does Apple iTunes, but since
iTunes isn’t a music subscription service, the model is different.) The value to
universities is they avoid the potential legal pitfalls of students using
file-sharing networks not approved by the music labels. The value to students is
that they get subscriptions to these services at a cut rate.

Although it still appears students from non-Ruckus
campuses who want to subscribe will have to pay a monthly fee, it will be
interesting to see if Ruckus’ move to convert to a free, ad-driven service for
the universities that sign up will garner them more partner schools and whether
it will force competitors to adjust their subscription models or
pricing.

 

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