Library Ideas offers the Freegal service to a number of libraries throughout the US. The selection of songs is exclusively from Sony Music, and each person is limited to just three downloads per week, and two downloads for each individual song.
The downloads are DRM-free MP3 files, and once you download a song you own it. While that may not be a bad deal for free, if you look at the terms Library Ideas is apparently giving libraries, it's far from free.
Last year a librarian from San Rafael, California blogged about her dealings with the company providing the service, and she wasn't at all impressed.
According to Sarah Houghton, downloads from Freegal actually cost libraries an average of $1 or more per song. On the other side of the equation, she says the reaction from users to getting a mere three songs per week, and only from a single label, hasn't been positive.
Houghton also blasted Library Ideas for their customer service, writing:
In addition to the bad customer service issues listed above, I also question the overall ethics of the company and its sales staff. Numerous promises were made to me ('off the record of course') that new content from other record labels would be added in the next few months. It's always 'in the next few months' and yet that elusive day never seems to come. My advice is to never, ever buy a product based on features or content that is not explicitly included in the contract.
The company also swears that they are giving you an amazing deal that no other library receives. And guess what? Everybody's getting that same deal. This happens with a lot of vendors. Remember: their job is to sell. Negotiating with vendors is sadly often more like negotiating for a used car than it is like buying a fixed-price item off the shelf.
I condemn the company's decision to contact my supervisor to tell me to take down my post that mentioned their product. Even if this had been on a library blog that I'd written on library time, that action is a very poor way to respond to criticisms of your product. But the fact that this blog is mine and not the library's made it indefensible.
The salesperson I worked with also told me that the contract terms, including pricing, was 'strictly confidential' and that it could not go out of the room. Heads up: unless you signed a non-disclosure agreement with a company, you can discuss any contract terms with whoever you want. That kind of meaningless and baseless bullying from a vendor sits very poorly with me.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 5 Dec 2011 13:26