Startup idea: Make My Music Legal

I was reading all the TechCrunch40 coverage and I asked myself: “If I had five minutes to come up with a startup idea completely outside of search, what would it be?” This is more of a fun exercise, but feel free to pull apart the idea — or propose a better startup idea in the comments.

Wal-Mart has started selling MP3s from some artists on Universal and EMI. Here’s the idea: a company that would scan your music collection and offer to convert file-shared MP3s to legal MP3s with much higher quality, cover art, lyrics, etc. Lots of people have MP3s from Napster/Kazaa/wherever, and now that you can buy the legal MP3 versions of some songs, at least a fraction of people would convert chunks of their music library to be completely legitimate and much higher quality.

How would you make money with this? I could imagine several ways:

– offer people ringtones of songs on their hard drive
– charge a penny or two for each song that is converted to “legitimate.”
– run some banner ads or AdSense
– anonymize the data and license the anonymized data to various businesses
– get people to sign up with Pandora,, or Rhapsody.
– don’t make any money on it. Use it as a way to build brand recognition or positive karma.

Why do I like this idea? Well, music labels are hesitant about selling songs without digital rights management (DRM). If this startup was even moderately successful, labels would see huge numbers of unprotected tracks being bought, which would encourage other labels to offer their music without DRM restrictions.

Sure, there’s little bits to be worked out. How would you upload the list of songs on your hard drive? Maybe you’d offer a tiny open-source download to scan the drive and make a list of MP3s. For the people who are too worried to download anything, you could say something like

Okay, you paranoid folks. Here’s how to upload the list of MP3s on your hard drive if you don’t want to download anything. Open a Windows command window and run these commands:
cd c:
dir /s | find /i “.mp3” > mp3list
then upload the file C:mp3list to us and we’ll take it from there.

TechCrunch is showcasing 40 startup companies this week. I believe this idea has to be better than at least 1-2 of those forty. 🙂 There’s also at least a few places to set yourself apart (e.g. recognizing songs from mangled/ugly filenames or noisy audio fingerprints), but it would be easy to get started. Or it would be an interesting side-project for any startup already in the music space.

If anyone who wants to try this idea, have at it. I’m too lazy to tackle it myself. Anybody want to rip the idea apart, implement it, or offer a better start-up idea? 🙂

63 Responses to Startup idea: Make My Music Legal (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt,

    Adding what you wrote today:

    “I asked myself: “If I had five minutes to come up with a startup idea completely outside of search, what would it be?” ”

    To what you wrote in December 2006y:

    “I love working at Google, but at some point my wife is going to wake up and smell the coffee. She’ll say “Hey, we agreed we’d try this Google thing for four or five years, and then I’d get to pick what to do next. It’s been like eight years now! When do we move on to our next adventure?””

    makes me feel that you are up to something soon 🙂

  2. about 2 of these 40 I think will actuallly work…. I guess thats why its VENTURE capitol

  3. How about the other way around – taking an existing physical music collection and turning it into a legitimate digital collection? I stopped digitizing after less than 100 disks (and boy am I glad I never got into vinyl 🙂 ). It would make things so much easier if I could just take my CDs, get my ownership verified and give me legal digital copies of all of that. I guess if there’s no money in it, I’ll just have to continue doing it manually. Good for the user, bad for someone wanting to make a profit 😀

  4. Some really great ideas, Several of them can work very well. There is just some of them that is looking for way to little funding, so I hope they have some cash in their pockets already else they will be looking for funding again soon!

  5. If anyone who wants to try this idea, have at it. I’m too lazy to tackle it myself. Anybody want to rip the idea apart, implement it, or offer a better start-up idea?

    The start up idea that SearchEnginesWeb would have would be developing Internet 3.0

    Unlike WEB 2.0 – Internet 3.0 would allow the Web to exist inside of it but be an evolution that would mashup the Web into something much more powerful

    So it could be called Ultra Web or Evolution or some other hype:

    It would encompass:

    1- making a 3-D monitor that would take advantage of the airwaves and not need a glass box that one would have to stare at.

    The surrounding air would generate images and offer a 3D effect

    2- Making use of the other THREE Senses besides Audio and Visual:

    So a plug in would allow for Virtual Smells, Virtual Sensations and Virtual Tasting

    This would not be the WEB or Even something as silly as Web 2.0

    It would be a mashup of a new technology that blends in with the current Web to make for a backwards computable experience – if you have the advanced tech you enjoy more – if not you still will enjoy the current Web.

    As every blogger knows by now EVERY suggestion that SearchEnginesWeb makes comes true and is picked up by someone. You can just see someone’s eyes bulging now. 😮

    But isn’t it wonderful to have THIS level of sophisticated discourse on this blog.

    There is no need to reply to this comment – just carry on ….

  6. Hi Matt,

    I see a lot of problems to the plan.

    1. It is still going to cost money (and crazy amounts at that), and if someone was willing to buy music, he/she could have bought it at the first instance itself. The only way is that the big companies allow for some one to do it at a lower price (at least half).

    2. How would that company ensure that the customers are not sued by the big companies?

    3. Instead of converting, with the upload and download the converted tracks, why not directly download the new songs at lower price after just uploading a list of songs.

    So what I am trying to get at is this – we are trying to solve the wrong problem. The problem is over priced music, which by most people is solved by pirating the music. And the solution to me is – cheaper music. And I mean way cheaper. iTunes is good, but not good enough. The music companies have to cut their profits in favour of improving volumes and cutting piracy.

  7. I like it. Just try not to give it one of these web 2.0ish names everyone is coming out with. For example, try to avoid things like: Mp3ebo, Splamzi, Freethrees, etc.

    My start-up idea: a company that comes up with start-up names. 🙂

  8. My startup idea which I am sharing as I don’t have the skills to do it myself … AllMyBills (in one place). I have about 20 bills hitting the mat every month, sky, gas, electricity, my mobile, the wifes mobile, broadband, telephone, Council tax …. and whilst most are paid by DirectDebit reading, filing and coping with them all is a job in itself… Can’t someone (like the Egg Money) put all the bills in one easy to manage place … THINK OF THE TREES!!!! All it would take would for all the e-billable companies to figure out a single ‘platfom’ and for other institutions to stop accepting household bills as the only form of ID (or proof of residency). I should mention that this needs to be done in the UK, not in the US.

  9. I beleive that you have a googd ideea.
    Anyway how mouch time, energy and $$$ do you need for that?

    So for me it just a dream

  10. Hi

    I’m yust a small guy (14) from the Netherlands with some great idees, bud i can’t find any investor. Its hard to find one
    Its verry hard to see that verry stupid idee’s get money to work out there concept.

    So i have to work with no money, no problem one day will come and everybody will now me 🙂 or will use my internet site

    A littel spam from me for my last project :
    it is stil in beta bud you can test it
    It switch between all major video sites to vind your video

    Greetings form NL

  11. You certainly are on track with that idea, Matt. Whether or not the profit would really come in is open to research and discussion … but unlike so many ‘services” out there (one of the generals i used to work for called them “self-licking ice cream cones”), this one would actually _do_ something useful … for both quality and legality. Don’t know if you are familiar with a company called Belarc, but they offer the first half of this sort of service on the software side … you put a download on your machine and it inventories _all_ your software, with license info where available … now add on logic to recommend what to do to “get legal” along with some incentives to do so. Second best idea to come out of the “Top 40” … Mint is currently the best.

    @ Chatmaster –> having worked in both underfunded and overfunded compamies I feel more fail from too much money and management than fail from lean bank balances. If Sergey and Larry had gone for venture captial first … who in their right minds would have let them build Google … they’d be working for a salary in some second-rate Valley firm if they had tried to start with money instead of passion.

  12. Talking of music related startups – I am loving

    Its fantastic – free streaming music.

    Not sure quite how they intend to monetise this since its free and the royalties must be staggering. Anyway its still in beta and is invite only so nag someone for an invitation – and buy some good quality speakers for your PC!

  13. I like Search Engines Web idea.
    There is a beta version of it they tried in 1973,
    There is a video on it (Sorry about the 30 second add)

    Matt, I love your idea. I have used I-Tunes since it came out, even though I don’t have a pod. I strongly support people paying for art. I think your idea has the right scale to it of it only costing a few cents. Maybe a better model would be it simply costing you a few cents each time you listen to or use the song. That way there would be enough income in it to make the project more viable, while only costing the average user 40 cents a day.

    I still desperately want a password program that I can simply log into with my own super complex long, no body knows secret code, that remembers all my other passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal info, and can recognize it on a page and fill it in, so I can stop ever typing those into a page again.


  14. call me paranoid (who said that) but compiling a list of music that’s not legal on your hard drive, seems like an incredibly bad idea. I could see the RIAA hooking up with your ISP to embed similar code in a toolbar they require you to download. Even if the software is user installed aggregating a list of non legal music to a computer connected to the net that could phone home, is like storing your matches on top of your gasoline. Think of the potential to blackmail people with the data.

  15. If I were to open anything within the computer industry:

    I would make a startup for user friendly (i.e also being able to be read by blind people and search engines) CMS website creation tool, which would be structured in a way to avoid duplicate or that a search engine runs round and round and round not finding the beginning or the end of the website because everything is linked with anything.

    I have yet to see a CMS (software-created) where I can download the content (not the pages) for a quick analyze of the text and not ending up having to do everything manually because either the tags are so messy that I can’t properly extract the content or my content analyzing tool has to be aborted because it is driving in circles in the 3000+ pages.

    Maybe I’m crazy and it’s already done but I have yet to see such a well coded CMS page.

  16. “don’t make any money on it. Use it as a way to build brand recognition or positive karma.”

    I highly recommend this approach. There is simply nothing more fun than doing something just because you can. The only challenge is convincing people that it really is free.

  17. The problem with this, if run as a network service, is that the copyright holders can just subpoena one place and get a a huge list of infringers. On the other hand, I can see a legal MP3 service such as offering a downloadable tool that will build the list and give you a chance to place the order.

  18. How bout a system to allow people who dont seem to care that people download their music for free can list their music on a system that allows anyone from anywhere to download. Everyone knows artist make their money from touring. They already cant handle themselves with the money anyway. They dont need more.

  19. I have a friend that runs a CD ripping company. He would probably do what you ask as long as you were willing to buy the original song.

    But the problem with converting downloaded music is that someone has to somehow pay for the rights. There is no point in scanning a hard drive if you didn’t buy the music. But I guess someone could charge money on top of the royalty fees for doing the work. Not a bad idea Matt.

  20. SanDisk sell the Sansa MP3 player that – if you have a $15/mo Rhapsody subscription – you can download unlimited songs to for free. I got a 4GB model for $99 bucks at BestBuy. I can plug it into my car and have access to an unending library of songs.

  21. It’s not a bad idea, I just get hung up on the definition of “legal” music.

    I don’t like much new stuff – most of what I listen to is at least 20 years old (I’m an old punk rocker from the 70s) How many times do I have to pay for the same music in a different format? I have 4500 LPs, 1500 45’s, I don’t even know how many CDs, and all I ever listen to these days is my 80gb iPod – so I have a lot of it on MP3 now. I have boxes and boxes of cassette tapes, and even a few cartons full of 8 tracks, bought because the first car I ever owned outright came with a built in 8 track player (you know how hard it was to get Iggy, The Ramones and the Sex Pistols on 8 track? I had to special order every one and it cost a fortune at the time)

    So if I download an MP3 of something I only have on vinyl, cassette and/or 8 track, because I don’t have room to set up a turntable or player that rips directly to my computer – hey, I’m not losing sleep over it.

    No, I don’t think I’d want anyone scanning my hard drive, either.

  22. I agree possibly 2 of these ideas are workable.

    We don’t need any more MP3 sellers or things such as that, it has been done to death.

  23. graywolf is right. especially when your plan includes…

    “anonymize the data and license the anonymized data to various businesses”

    license it to the riaa thugs, and they subpoena your business for exactly every illegal file they represent.

    they’re even pretending to be the grandmother of seven year olds to visit elementary schools and serve lawsuits.–1.html

  24. A startup search engine wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

    PS: I’m also working a site that’s going be crammed with information startups — but I’m not revealing it yet. 😉

  25. There are some great ideas in all these comments. I too like Matt’s idea and definitely would spare the extra change to get legit but don’t know how comfortable I would be with my HD being scanned for particular files. That being said, LIKE OF MY GOD, would I ever like to be still alive if they ever came out with the “ultra web” 3D monitor. That would change a surfer’s world forever. Ohh and what would our tv experience be like? Could we shut off certain senses ? I don’t know how good (for those of you who are familiar) the Trailer Park Boys smell? Hmm, anyway…I’ll still be thinking about this one into the evening.


  26. Hey all, thanks for the comments (I’m glad that not many people said I was on crack).

    Don Marti, I started to write about the privacy aspect and left it out of the post. I was thinking that after procuring the music for someone, the person’s identity would be severed from the MP3 info. Alternatively, the MP3 info could be degraded or deleted altogether.

  27. I think this is a terrific idea in theory, but I doubt that many of the folks that were out there grabbing up “free” music back in the day are terribly interested in paying for it now just to be on the straight and narrow. My guess is that the songs they really like have been bought legally already if they are ever going to be. But if you could get a reduced price on the legal version it might get more nibbles.

    Personally I was most interested in your last, throw-away comment at the end of your post. “If anyone who wants to try this idea, have at it. I’m too lazy to tackle it myself. Anybody want to rip the idea apart, implement it, or offer a better start-up idea?”

    I think ideas like this are wonderful b/c you are trying to improve our lives in some way so you took the time to share your concept. And look at all the great energy and discussion it has brought about! Now take into account how few and far between the folks that have a built in audience like yours to respond to the shared idea are.

    I call it the Eureka Disconnect Effect: a moment of clarity happens, only to the wrong person to bring it to life, and so instead a remarkable idea withers on the vine. Innovative thoughts are a nonrenewable natural resource, and we need to come up with a way of capturing them so that the folks that aren’t “too lazy” (or busy, or poor, or shortsighted, etc…) to follow through on them don’t let all the good ones get away from the rest of us.

    I know I did a poor job of explaining myself, but I hope y’all get the point. I started to change the world with a blog of my own, but reality interceded. I do a much better job of making my point there. If anyone is interested, you can see it here:

    (I obviously am a newbie when it comes to code. I would have preferred to have the link be built into my text, so if I get approved maybe you could remedy that? -Ken)

  28. You mean I can upload my self-endorsed admission of my illegal downloads to some new startup company just waiting to be subpoenaed for its logs by the RIAA? Sign me up!

    Even without the tinfoil hat on, this idea seems very un-Googley to me. Why not take the same uploaded statistics and compile them into a report showing the huge number of people whose idea of fair use differs greatly from that of the music industry? That’s what the Canadian Record Industry Association (Canadian RIAA) lobbied for, and now we pay a small levy on blank media in exchange for the right to legally exchanged music via P2P.

    Why perpetuate a failing market that never anticipated the internet?

  29. The RIAA should consider this idea, or another close to it, instead of taking 13 year-olds to court.

    Nice read, thanks.

  30. I was thinking of this exact idea a few days ago when I was searching through my MP3’s on my new IPhone. I thought that I would love to have cover art and the correct filnames of all of my MP3’s, but it would take days to get this done.
    I like this idea! Someone should do this. I will be your first customer.

  31. Matt, I’m not sure I get your idea.
    Let’s say I’m an average person and I have 5,000 “illegitimate” songs in my music library. Your startup idea would charge me a penny or two to convert those songs to “legitimate” ones, therefore $50 to $100 for the 5,000 songs. Assuming that you have the legal right to make my music legitimate, that sounds appealing… Now here’s the issue: instead of buying new music at $1/song through iTunes and the like, what would prevent people from downloading more illegal songs through filesharing and then converting them to “legal files” at the cost of $0.01/song?? A legal music library at a hundredth of the current iTunes cost? You can be sure many people will use your company to do exactly that.
    Given this loophole, I don’t see a single chance that the major music labels (the legal rights holders for most of these songs) would agree to let you make people’s libraries legal for a penny a song. It is just not going to happen.

    Am I not uderstanding your project?

    On another note, if you’re going to convert people’s music files to higher quality files, please don’t do it with the MP3 format. MP3 is a format that’s over 15 years old now, and audio compression had improved significantly since. AAC for example is a widely used open format that achieves much better quality and can be played on virtually all music players today (iPods, Zunes, Creative players, mobile phones, etc..). Let’s try to move forward, not backward.

  32. Not sure, but this appears to be a copyright nightmare, something like the original Napster (on crack!). Lets see, take protected, copyrighted songs like the ones that you download on Rhapsody, or itunes or anything else and un-protect them. Napster lost when they got sued, how could this possibly be successful especially if someone is making money from it.

  33. I don’t know what tell. But on eBay a one crazy guy sell a ‘Nothing’. And it has own site I think if this for sale then your idea has a big potential.

  34. but how would you know j random mp3 on your hardrive is legal and onethat you brought. (ime presuming (hadwave) you can use some sort of finger printing to match up an unknown mp3 to work out what it is.

    I could see a service where you used some autoloader cd reader to say convert a phisical collection of CD’s to a digital form maybe directly to a new ipod or external disk.

    Bit of a niche market though.

  35. I think some people are misunderstanding. The idea isn’t to charge people 1 cent a song for the legal version, the idea is to charge them full price and take about 1 cent a song yourself as commission. Someone with 5,000 illegal songs would be paying in the ballpark of $5000 to legalify them.

    I’m not sure about the “better quality” aspect, though. Most legitimately bought music I’ve seen is at a lower bitrate than the illegal stuff.

  36. matt, youre kinda like a big kid.

  37. Disclaimer / private note: This is my first ever blog comment anywhere, so forgive me if I misunderstood your policy requirements or did not follow the netiquette. Moving forward…

    While your startup idea sounds interesting, I do share the concern expressed in several other comments about trusting a commercial service to scan my hard disk. Although, with all the antivirus monitoring tools, spyware, and other gadgets, plus the always-on internet access, who know who is reading our entire hard disks.

    Talking of fresh startup ideas, my partner is a big time 3D enthusiast, with interests ranging from 3D photography on film to lenticular to the likes of 3DSMAX, and all the latest gizmos. We often brainstorm and debate the viability of a 3D video conferencing system that would transform the entire video conferencing scene in a big way.

  38. A start up idea. Music is always going to sell, but how to get the music out so someone can listen to stuff without copying. Have band sell their own music from their own site – keeping the full profits – then if you but a cd you pay a different price – so google music search – being able to search sound – really it can’t be far away.

  39. I tend to agree with those who are against the MP3 “legality” idea.

    1) There would have to be some sort of an amnesty clause in there that would also have to be enforced in order to ensure that those who want to “turn straight” and convert their MP3s to legal MP3s will be able to do so without fear of reprisal. I wouldn’t trust the RIAA not to try to circumvent any laws and not to go after people who tried to convert their MP3s legally.

    2) For those people with large collections, a higher-quality MP3 + cover art + lyrics + X (where X can represent just about any other benefit) represents a potentially significant chunk of hard drive/iPod/other MP3 player space. In the case of the latter two, it might mean that the user can’t fit of all of his/her songs onto an MP3 player anymore, just on the basis of the higher quality MP3.

    3) I have a number of MP3s on my hard drive that might appear to be illegal on the surface, but are legitimately free and legal copies that I obtained. For example, I have a band’s entire album on MP3 because I needed to strip samples out of it for their site (the band has since dissolved, as has the site). I also have, among other legit MP3s, an MP3 from Motley Crue that they gave to users as part of a Camp Chaos video and two MP3s from Weird Al Yankovic that he linked to from his own sites.

    What happens to me, and anyone like me, who has MP3s that are legal but appear not to be if we allow our hard drives to be scanned and then don’t convert all of our MP3s to “legal” format?

    4) How will this idea not violate consumer privacy in all nations that choose to participate? That alone is a giant hornet’s nest.

    I just see too many questions and not enough answers to support this idea. Sorry, Matt, I’m just not with you on this one, dude.

  40. Matt,

    Well, I can tell you that EMI and Universal are the most lax of all the record labels out there when it comes to copyrights and other legal mumbo jumbo.

    I started an online music lyrics site in October of 2005 because I hated the spam that was in the lyric industry (why Google hasn’t axed a number of the sites out there is beyond me). A few months later the MPA started raising living hell about infringements so . . . I started calling all of the major publishing houses and labels. Talk about an industry that is eons behind the rest of the world. I literally had some publishers tell me I had to send them a faxed request for each song I wanted to post the lyrics for and they would then get back to me on it in 6 – 8 weeks. When I told them I wanted it for 250,000+ songs, they told me I was being unrealistic. I then started talking to a company (damn, NDA keeps me from saying who) that later got the right to publish lyrics but their minimum is insane for a one-man band like myself.

    So . . . the site just sits there. Garnering about 1500 visitors a day, generating little to no revenue (plus I recently rolled most of the ads to ads–my real job). I haven’t updated the site in a while now either (shame on me). There is such much I want to do with the site but I am tapped out financially at this point. 🙁

    Bottom line, the music industry has it’s own set of rules and who has rights to what is extremely complicated. The legal hurdle you would face with your idea would be significant.

    P.S. Why don’t you just allow an export of the iTunes Library? It would cover 90% of the user base and due to the export file being in XML format, it would be really easy to parse.

  41. I think you definitely have a good start-up idea with this one, especially because I think that there is such a high demand out there for high quality, legal MP3s. Although I am not knowledgeable enough in the music industry to know how feasible such a start-up would be, I say go for it!

  42. I like the fact you have got everyone thinking.This sort of excersise is great to get your mind working and just writing down ideas.
    I think you have a good idea matt just now need to take action.

  43. Taking it further,

    why just legitimize the songs they’ve downloaded? why not sell/offer them the full albums those songs come from, and other albums by the same artists, and albums by artists that other people who liked that artist also likes.

    why limit it to songs, how about movies? Legitimize your movie, here’s where to get the HD version from.

    and cross linkage, sell them the movie the song came from.

    and sell them the full length version of things from extracts, have the trailer of a movie? have a snippet from a song, if it can be fingerprinted it can be identified.

    Most obvious way to make money is via a cut from the sales, i.e. affiliate fee.

    Wrap it up, give it a nice name, media, music, receive it in a flood, spurt, how about mediaspurt? Cleansplurg, media-me.

  44. Make My Music Legal wll not make any money. The cost of the bandwidth & hardware is just too much. How do I know this? Because I was the Systems Engineering Manager for Yahoo! Broadcast, formerly owned by Mark Cuban and sold to Yahoo!

    In 2001 Yahoo! purchased the entire North American music library, an estimated 250,000 music CDs. This library was delivered to the Yahoo! Broadcast Datacenter in Dallas Tx. by Semi Trailer. It was about 100 pallets of boxes stacked 5′ high. A very impressive sight!

    I was given the task of encoding this entire music collection and then streaming it to the masses. Intimidating project but one that I undertook with eagerness, determination, and a very large budget, which I needed.

    Once we got the HW and SW pieces figured out we hired typist that worked in 3 shifts around the clock to enter the Meta Data and Load CDs. The encoding took 6 months.

    The initial requirement was to encode the content for Windows Media, Real, and Quick Time in different Bit Rates. A free low quality rate and a paid for higher premium quality rate. Initially Y! wanted to store the entire library online, but that was just not possible due to storage cost. It was decided to store only the top requested content online, about 25,000 songs and video and then have a weekly content churn.

    The amount of SW development that went into this was incredible. The Recording Labels were all over us to provide daily reports of exactly what content was streamed so they could get their money. Every single stream was logged and reported to the Music Industry.

    The HW requirement was huge. The SW licensing check that we sent to Microsoft for all the streaming and encoding servers was ridiculous. Dell delivered servers in lots of 100. I lost count of how much Cisco equipment we ordered. We kept all the content on a huge StorageTek SAN because no matter how many NetApps Filers were sent to us they were never fast enough to keep up with the demand.

    We had Bandwidth from every provider in Dallas, and we filled those pipes everyday. We had all our BW contracts on a 90 day pricing and if we met our minimum BW commitments we got premium pricing. Still our BW cost was averaging $1M a month.

    The largest bill we paid every month was to the Music labels. It was several million dollars a month. The music industry was the hammer, Yahoo! Broadcast was the nail.

    Yahoo! never made a dime doing this. Everything went into the infrastructure, Licensing, Bandwidth cost and to the Music Industry. However is to this day the largest online music library on the internet and is continually rated the best music site on the internet by the Neilson Net Ratings.

    If you compare to Apple’s iTunes I can almost gaurantee you that Apple doesn’t make a dime on the music. All their profit comes from selling iPods and iPhones.

  45. Hey Leslie, you might find this interesting:

    The site it is on is very cool.

  46. Matt, if the RIAA gets a court order they can probably make the site log the info of anyone who confesses to having illegal copies but doesn’t pay.

    You could do it as a stand-alone download that only keeps the info locally, and then sell placement rights to Amazon and any other vendor who wants to fulfil the order.

  47. Unfortunately, the fine line between successful entrepreneurs and not to successful ones are simply the pursuit of their ideas. In the history of earth, no great idea that was not pursued has ever turned into a success.

  48. Hi all,

    in France has opened a few weeks ago DEEZER (
    All music (which has been uploaded by users or already available on the site) can be listened freely (is this word english).

    Here is what is mentionned on the site :

    ” Deezer is the first juke box on demand totally free in the world !
    Our concept is simple:
    -Give consumers a full and free access to all their favourite songs
    -Pay artists and their producers through a revenue share based on our advertising revenues
    – Help discovering new artists through a wide audience.”

    I tried it and found it great for 2 things :
    – I can hear my old favorite songs
    – A smartplaylist make me discover others songs/groups around the songs/groups I’m listening. Love this.

    If you speak french, you can read this short presentation of deezer


  49. I’m not sure about the “better quality” aspect, though. Most legitimately bought music I’ve seen is at a lower bitrate than the illegal stuff.

  50. How about the very first MP3 drive thru service. Like Micky Dees… but just a menu with mp3’s, of course you would need a player or a flash drive when you come to the window to plug and get fed the mp3, pay n go..

    i think it would work. Hell i think I will dig out my old lemonade stand and set up shop at the neighborhood corner and try it .

  51. Matt, greater ideas involving digital music have all been still-born or been put to the sword….JohnMu Said,
    “It would make things so much easier if I could just take my CDs, get my ownership verified and give me legal digital copies of all of that.”
    7 years after Michael Robertson’s pioneered this very concept and which was promptly assasinated by the MAFIAA, we still haven’t made any progress in this realm. And there’s a good chance that we may have to toss all the above ideas into the dustbin as long as the absurd restrictions and close-minded processes the MAFIAA employ to protect their profits exists.
    Lastly, I think that if anyone needs a great music idea, it’s Google itself!! Google is getting its ass whipped in China, being a distant No.2 to search leader Baidu, which has made search and downloading of illegal music a cornerstone of their services. So you might be better off reclaiming the idea for your own house maintainance – and you might just want to talk to me about it too!

  52. What I think the music industry never understood is that people WANT to pay for music. They just want value for their money. When people used to pay $15 for a CD and only the single track was worth listening to twice, people felt screwed.

    Just look at the recent Radiohead online release, In Rainbows. A lot of people downloaded it for free, but a lot of others (Americans most of all) paid money even when they didn’t have to.

    I would love to take some of these radio-quality mp3’s and convert them to CD-quality. Moreso, someone could tailor this idea and make it user-specific like Amazon does – after a scan of the files, they could start suggesting music the buyer might like, or what other people with similar libraries bought. If you wanted to get crazy, you could even offer an online dating service which matched up people according to similar music tastes. I always thought that would be a fun idea.

  53. I’m not sure about the “better quality” aspect, though. Most legitimately bought music I’ve seen is at a lower bitrate than the illegal stuff.

  54. Tenderloins from full mp3 must be free.

  55. Matt, if the RIAA gets a court order they can probably make the site log the info of anyone who confesses to having illegal copies but doesn’t pay.

  56. Hey Matt, thanks for this tutorial of how to make a list of .mp3 or any other files 🙂 I find it very useful 😉

  57. ok, I am in, where do i sign?

    p.s. the “scan your computer to find mp3” thing will be a major issue in my opinion

  58. I couldn’t agree more. We have huge problems with the scurge of “free sheet music” on the web, which often is amaterish rubbish which is actually just lyrics or guitar tab.

    There are some really great free sheet music archives out there, it’s just the mass illegal free ones that spoil it for the rest!

    Great idea with the music start-up – why don’t you go on Dragon’s Den?

  59. I’m not sure I understand the freshness of the concept.
    Isn’t what you describe called iTunes? It does exactly what you say: Scan HD for music files, then listing them with a ‘buy song’ button.

  60. Hello Matt:

    Thanks for the interesting article.

    A thought just happened to cross my mind: nowadays, popular blog writers can make quite a lot of money by writing articles, maybe in the future, singers can do so as well. They “write” their “blog” with not only articles but also songs, and people can not only read their blogs but also listen to them.

    And the business style may change as the following shows:

    Singers with good songs can get more and more attention–their “blog” be more and more popular–singers make money for themselves though something like today’s Google Adsence on their blogs–get attention from companies like EMI–EMI make them super stars and get profit from them…

  61. Nice Idea with the the part of making illegal music. I have an own Start-Up in Germany, which allows to trade legal music with good friends/family – which ist allowed in Germany. But one of the mayor problems is the fact, that most people don’t have a willingness to pay for music at all.

  62. Thanks for the article. I don’t think I’ve ever had a completely original startup idea that wasn’t full of holes. I think that most startup ideas are full of holes just by their nature and once you get those problems figured out, you finally have something. The biggest hole to fill would be the “will anybody buy this?” hole. In this case, a good study of how many people want to make their music legal would be a big problem.

    I do wonder if this wouldn’t be a good product for an existing computer business to add though? People come in with their computer a mess and you could explain that it’s some of the stupid actions like downloading illegal stuff that leads to problems. Tell them how to get legal and throw this in as an added way to get more out of their computer.

    I make websites in Newark, Ohio and I find it amazing the number of businesses that will not fill the holes in their existing businesses by using the technology available to them, but they are more than willing to chase another idea instead. I think focused energy on existing businesses that are partially working is energy much better spent.