|Scott Arpajian founded Download.com in 1996. He is also the author of several books on computing including How to Use HTML 3.2. He has more than ten years of experience in software download libraries. What follows are excerpt from this interview took place on April 23, 2004.
Music sites haven't proven to be feasible money makers for the most part in the past. How will CNET monetize music.download.com?
Our core business model is advertising. We are now trying to expand our customer base into new categories through new content offerings. We will be appealing to a new set of marketers and that's consistent with out existing business.
How will music.download.com differentiate itself in the digital music space?
Ultimately we're providing a pretty rich environment. The music, yes, it will be free. But we have tens of millions of users and they will be there. They will be spending a lot time there. 18 to 34 year old males? That audience is very attractive to advertisers. Meanwhile, advertisers are following them as they are moving away from traditional media outlets and spending more time online.
MP3.com's curse was that the charts were gamed. All it took was a few artists to bond together in download trading rings and you no longer had the best artists featured. How will CNET prevent this from happening.
We've hired a staff of editors and we're growing that staff. We will be able to feature the best music on the site. We will have charts. We've had them for 8 years with software publishers. We've got 8 years in experience in adapting to the gaming tricks and can produce pretty authoritative lists.
What will be some of the features of the site to help artists get noticed on the site?
We will have 700 genres and sub-genres, so it will be very specialized. We will also incorporate user ratings where listeners can rate what they are hearing. We also have an editorial staff as well as counting on our users.
One of MP3.com's popular offerings were the MP3.com one-off CDs, burned from the artist uploads. Will Music.Download.com offer something similar?
We're not going to be selling music. We're not going to be a label. What we will be is a great resource for end users to download free and legal music. However we are keeping our options open when it comes to future services.
Towards the end of MP3.com's run with Vivendi it seemed as if they were more concerned with hyping their Universal Music artists like Eminem than the unsigned artists who helped build up the site's traffic. What is CNET's stance on majors versus indies?
We're not making a distinction between the major and independent artists. Yet we think that by requiring free downloading of all uploads we will scare away some of the majors.
Will other formats beyond MP3.com -- like Weed or WMA -- be offered? Why did you go with 192 kbps for the encoding over the 128 kbps MP3 encoding that the 250,000 artists on the old MP3.com site already were prepared for?
We will be launching in MP3 format. Yes, it will be 192 kbps. We haven't seen a tremendous amount of complaints. Most artists have their original files and the encoding process to our higher quality standard is easy.
While CNET has always said that Vivendi was not willing to sell the existing website, complete with all of the musical content, now it seems as if TruSonic has found a way to funnel those servers that were supposedly wiped clean to GarageBand.com. What happened there?
We bought what Vivendi was selling at the time. That was the domain name and some of the hardware. The content was not for sale. They didn't think they had the ability to sell it. They even delayed sending us the hardware to make sure that everything was deleted.
Music may be a logicial step after software downloads, but where does it fit into the scheme of things?
Music is our first really big push into leveraging our software audience. You come to download.com for downloadable content for digital fuel for your devices. If you've seen our Gamespot.com site we are modeling a lot of the music site to that. We want to be to indie music what Gamespot is to the video game community.
So the news.com techies will be loading up their MP3 players with the best garage bands out there?
The key ingredient is the existing audience. Importantly, the audience loves digital music. They want new things.
What will happen when folks come to the site expecting free Metallica and Britney Spears music only to find bands that they have never heard of instead?
We have an audience that's really receptive to change. Most of the software was certainly not brand name early on. This is all part of a larger strategy. Our goal is to create opportunities with new marketers and we think we will succeed.
-- Rick Munarriz