Pressplay, a Web music service owned by Sony Corp. and Vivendi Universal Thursday said it hopes to make its online service available to Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh computers sometime this year.
“We are hoping that sometime this year that Pressplay will be available (on Macs), although we can’t guarantee,” said Andy Schuon, chief executive officer of Pressplay, during a conference call hosted by research firm Jupiter Media Metrix.
Heads of other subscription services such as Pressplay’s big label-backed rival MusicNet and independently owned FullAudio and Listen.com also joined the call.
The commercial services are launching in hopes of tapping the huge audience demonstrated by song-swapping service Napster, which was closed in July 2001 by an industry-wide copyright lawsuit claiming it was encouraging wholesale piracy.
While Apple has made a big splash this year in the digital music sector with its iPod MP3 music player, none of the new online music subscription services are yet available on Mac computers because they are not compatible with the Macintosh’s operating system.
Pressplay, for instance, runs on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system.
Schuon and other online music executives are looking ahead to the day their programs will also run on Macs, which Apple has been trying to position as a digital hub for music, video and digital photography.
Pressplay also uses Microsoft’s digital rights management (DRM) system and is distributed through Microsoft’s MSN, Yahoo Inc.and Roxio Inc. Web sites.
Industry experts said moving towards the Mac, which has a roughly 5 percent share of the personal computer market, was a logical step.
“The Apple is so consumer-friendly and it makes all the sense in the world to have these services on the Mac,” said Karen Allen, an Internet consultant formerly with the Recording Association of America (RIAA). “If Pressplay is being offered through MSN music, MSN music would also get more subscribers if they were offered through the Mac so it would increase the revenue stream.”
Microsoft declined comment. A spokesman for Apple was not immediately available.
Online music executives see a challenge ahead in trying to convert former Napster users, used to getting music for free, to pay for their services, particularly as free Napster-clones have also sprung up.
In addition, the officials noted their services were challenging many of the basic assumptions upon which the recording industry has been historically based.
“Since the recording industry’s inception, musical sales have also been based on the sale of physical goods. This means that we’re playing with the business model, so a significant portion of this business will be in education,” said Alan McGlade, president and CEO Of MusicNet, the service backed by RealNetworks Inc., Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group Plc and AOL Time Warner Inc..
Many executives on the call also said they believed there was a large untapped market in an older audience who have more disposable income and may have missed the Napster phenomenon.
The biggest audience for Napster was comprised of mostly college-aged or mid-20-year-olds who had less cash and more time on their hands, they said.
“We think the older audience has huge potential. The over-25 demographic has been underserved in general. There’s not a lack of business in that group, but there’s a lack of alternatives on the radio side and in retail,” said James Glicker, president of FullAudio.
Napster recently launched the test of its own secure subscription service to compete in the market as well.