A few days ago, P2P Blog reported that Napster is withdrawing from college and university campuses by ending its “Napster on Campus” program. This comes about a year and a half after Cdigix withdrew from this market. I can’t seem to find an official announcement from Napster but Vanderbilt and American University have their own announcements. Napster appears to be suffering internal troubles; I’m completely out of my element trying to understand that document but others have characterized it as Napster “put[ting ] itself up for sale again.”
In mid July, one of my colleagues at another institution posted to a public listserv that Ruckus has new sponsors and is changing direction.Â In particular, they no longer have a sales or marketing department which means no more posters or advertising materials sent to participating institutions. I have not yet found independent corroboration of these assertions.
I would love to pontificate at length and offer observations but I’m afraid that there just isn’t enough information to offer much substantive, meaningful opinions other than the obvious ones: (a) it’s damn hard to compete with free and (b) your music damn well better work with everyone’s computers and mp3 players. I am, however, hopeful that the continued demise of these services will remind colleges and universities that their job isn’t to provide free or reduced music to students but to educate them. Even if students want free music and Congress pushes institutions to offer free music, institutions need to stand firm and treat students as intelligent citizens responsible for their own actions and not as captive consumers to be mollified with treats unrelated to education.