Popular peer-to-peer program Kazaa will be reborn as a subscription-based music service as early as next month, hoping to cash in on a multi-billion dollar music industry.
Kazaa was one of the most popular P2P programs just a few years ago, but faced high levels of scrutiny from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other copyright groups.
Unlimited downloads through the new Kazaa will cost $20 per month, with support from the big four record labels: Universal, Sony Music, EMI and Warner Music. If the service has any chance of surviving after it relaunches, it must offer a wider selection of music, including independent music artists.
Not much is known about the new service and what kind of features it will offer, though it'll be possible for members to pay their monthly fees via credit card or through their telephone company. Industry executives feel subscribers won't notice the economic impact of paying monthly for a music service if it's simply added into a telephone bill that already has fees and extra taxes that we've all become used to paying.
Each song is protected by DRM security, and a subscriber will, of course, lose their music catalog if they stop paying for the service.
Napster, the P2P program that started the music download revolution, also relaunched as a subscription-based service. Even though it's a completely legitimate service, it obviously has lost its luster among many early P2P users. Furthermore, the Pirate Bay, after its founders were found guilty of copyright infringement, will also soon launch a new service where users must pay to have access to content.
I'll be curious to see how Kazaa handles the fact it hasn't been in the headlines for at least three years, and must deal with dozens of other online music services.