I think it was Sam who pointed out last year that the service operated on an alarmingly flawed business model. Looks like the inability to play songs on anything other than their (god-awful) player finally came back to hurt them. Ruckus, fare thee well.
From my junk box:
You know that RUCKUS gives FREE and LEGAL music to college students, right?
We’ve recently asked for your help because we need more members to continue to offer the music for free. Unfortunately, the efforts weren’t good enough, so we’re asking you again to share RUCKUS with your friends.
We pay our bills with ad revenue, so we need more users on the RUCKUS site in order to pay the rent and keep your music flowing for free. It doesn’t matter how you do it—share on Facebook, e-mail your friends, or even streak across your quad—just help us save your music.
So, their CEO sends out a plea use their “free service”, complete with a please spam other people’s facebooks because the current spam in your inbox isn’t-quite-enough to save our crappy service button. Wesleyan actually pays them for this bull shit?
Edit: Anonymous Commenter says wesleyan does not pay.
Some of you are probably already laughing at this post. You’re probably thinking: “Hahaha, Jacon, please. I’ve been listening to Pandora for ages.” Well, I too am a Pandora addict (for you virgins: www.pandora.com – all is explained), but recently Pandora’s #1 failing, the inability to bring it along, has begun to bother me more than usual.
Wesleyan, in its infinite wisdom, offers the solution. You may or may not have heard, but last fall Wesleyan subscribed to the Ruckus music service, an online
library which licenses its content to universities and the like. Check it out here: http://www.wesleyan.edu/its/ruckus/
Now you’re probably thinking: “Jacon, this is stupid. It only works for PCs, I can’t burn CDs and it won’t go on my iPod.” Well, unfortunately you are right about it only working for PCs. (If you’re a Mac person, consider running Windows through Boot Camp or Parallels Workstation – I honestly think it would be worth it just for the access to this music.) The bright side, however is that you’re WRONG about being unable to do what you like with the music. All you need is a little tool called FairUse4WM. It will strip the Digital Rights Management crap that’s attached to all the Ruckus music downloads. Get it here.
Now, this all probably seems really complicated, but actually it’s not at all. A one-time installation of FairUse4WM will allow you to strip all the music you download from Ruckus, and with a fairly simple user interface to boot. Afterwards, iTunes will automatically convert the WMA files when you add them to your library.
“What’s the catch?” you ask? It’s LEGAL. That’s right – as long as you are stripping the DRM so that you can listen to it by yourself, on your iPod, with your earbuds – it’s legal. If you do it so you can share the music, or play it loud enough for your roommate/RA/local squirrels to hear, well that’s when you may want to watch out for the RIAA. Think of it this way: Wesleyan is paying for this service, which means you are paying for this service. Make use of it!
So by now, everyone on campus probably understands what is meant by “the network.” On a campus where each computer is connected to a lightning fast central server, the exchange of documents and files is pretty quick business. Well, the administration started testing out legal filesharing programs in the hopes of curbing illegal sharing. They tried out two programs: eMusic and Ruckus.
What was the difference? Well, digital rights management software or DRM. Ruckus files are crippled by DRM so you cannot use* them on your iPod** or even on other audio software (without paying a fee); You can only use them on the Ruckus player. With eMusic, there was no DRM, but you could only download 15 songs each month. The selection of each was different, with Ruckus catering to more mainstream tastes and eMusic to the indie crowd.
This year, the school only renewed Ruckus. You can download unlimited songs off of Ruckus, provided you don’t mind dealing with the player and the limitations on how you use the music. The music you download, you do not “own,” instead, it is more along the lines of “borrowing.” You cannot access your music library when you are not online (though off-campus is fine). There are ads embedded in the player. Should you for whatever reason decide to quit your Ruckus account, your files would be useless. Lastly, it doesn’t work on Macs, only in Windows.
David Abravanel ’08, who I asked most of my questions to in regards to this post, discusses the controversy involving services like Ruckus and DRM:
Right now, companies that use DRM are treating us all like potential criminals. The end user license agreement has turned bonkers. When you buy a CD, you expect it to play in any CD player you put it in. There are services with independent clients who have done just fine without DRM. My personal favorite is www.bleep.com. I cannot recommend Bleep more– high quality, DRM-free mp3s, great site, excellent selection, specifically if you’re into obscure electronic music like I am (it’s run by Warp records, though it includes many more labels). eMusic is another example.
Of course, it’s going to be harder to convince major labels to do this. They have higher costs, it’s really a different industry for them. With videos, promotion, and other absurd shit, they can be in the hole millions of dollars with an artist before his/her album even drops. Though labels have started to adapt; recently, Korn signed a contract with their label to share a portion of their live profit. Live music will never be replaced by downloads.
More about Ruckus:
- Upenn’s Daily Pennsylvanian
- Wesleyan’s ITS page
- Stupid Ruckus marketing gimmick on Facebook (threesome with girlfriend group)
More about DRM:
**iTunes also uses DRM, so whatcha gonna do?