SanDisk Introduces “New” Music Distribution Media

slotmusic SanDisk Introduces “New” Music Distribution Media

SanDisk as the world’s leading manufacturer of flash memory cards is of course always out to sell more cards. This summer they have been running a campaign called “wake up your phone” to get people to invest in memory cards for their cellphones and now they’re at it again with a new idea involving microSD cards and music distribution.

The “new” physical music media is dubbed SlotMusic and is basically just MicroSD cards with MP3 files on them. Sony BMG, Universal, Warner and EMI are in on this deal and it’s an accomplishment in itself to get music companies to offer such content as MP3 files and not some DRM’ed atrocity. The idea is that people can buy a SlotMusic card, slide it into a player with a microSD slot and listen to the music without any more tinkering.

While this might seem like an inferior method of getting music for some people, it does address two aspects of MP3 players that a lot of people have issues with; having a physical copy, and ease of use. A lot of people, especially the older generation, don’t understand how to download music and get it onto their player. With this system they could buy their music like CDs and listen that way. Nothing is simpler than having a card which you put into a slot and it’s ready to play. Then you have the music collectors who like to have a physical copy of their music. Granted, MP3 files won’t satisfy everyone, but it does allow people to have a cover to look at (if they are going to include such a thing), a booklet and maybe the cards could even include extras like music videos and FLAC files. It’s certainly easier having a memory card that you can plug into a computer and transfer music off of than having to rip the music from a CD. The pricing isn’t official but is expected to be around $7-$10, which isn’t bad at all.

[CNET via ABi Forums | Press Release]


gigman on September 22, 2008 5:14 PM

Actually a very good idea for old people who dont understand music that you cant see on a cd/card or w/e.

Jon C on September 22, 2008 6:47 PM

I can’t imagine anyone who would pay for this, even people who are “technologically challenged”. The (lack of) size for one thing would probably intimidate them. And then you have to consider the nightmare involved in juggling so many finger size cards.Personally I still have belief in the CD format. Having the ability to convert to any current or future format meant that CD is still the most future proof of all music media.

Danny J on September 22, 2008 7:13 PM

I love this idea. I hate optical media. I always have. It is too big to be pocket-sized, and doesn’t hold enough information. Not to mention that the media is so easy to destroy via scratches… I have been waiting for when they would make flash media the next ‘tape’, and I am glad the music industry is embracing it. SD cards are so much smaller, with greater capacity, and more stablity than CD’s.

Kpalsm on September 22, 2008 8:30 PM

There’s an 8 next to “if” about 3/5 the way down the last paragraph. ;) Anyways, this is a very cool idea, though myself and many others wouldn’t be happy with the best copy of the media I own being an mp3. I like to rip my CDs to FLAC and then I convert/transcode the FLAC to any other format I may wish. Now, if they had a FLAC (or other lossless format) version on the card as well, THAT would be a different story. In fact, I would happily buy that instead of a CD, even if it was MORE expensive than a CD, just because it saves time and effort. Now all we need is the SD cards themselves to be re-usable (take the music off them when you get it home and use it in your camera, etc) and it’ll be perfect!

Matt A on September 22, 2008 8:33 PM

This is a fantastic idea in my opinion. I always thought that SD cards would replace CD’s, and this seems to be a step towards that. And for Jon C, how is juggling a bunch of cards worse then juggling CD’s? I imagine that these would come with album art and covers like anything else, and like Danny J said there is a lot of upsides to them. They wont scratch, they’re small, they can hold more information (which, for music means more songs with better quality sound), and you can play them right from an MP3 player. There cheap, too. Cheaper then most albums. This is really exciting to me.

Betto on September 22, 2008 9:25 PM

How cool would this be if these cards were included with CDs? Just pop one into your phone/MP3 Player and bam, instant music :D

Mike on September 23, 2008 1:10 AM

The best comment I saw someone post was, why not put the CD on the card in lossless format, rather than in compressed form? There certainly would be enough space, with a 1gb card. Or perhaps include both lossless and lossy. Again, the space is there. And audio quality should be king.

Walkingman on September 23, 2008 3:25 AM

This has been done before. I believe a couple of years ago. It failed, just like pre-recorded MiniDiscs failed a decade ago.Why not just download? If they are going to put up lossy cards on microSDs, you can save yourself a lot of convenience by just downloading from a legal site. I bet this will be more expensive too.CDs only get scratched by people who do not know how to handle them. I also do not like the idea of swapping them out from my players/phones, not to mention the incompatibility future card slot standards may bring. Yes you can transencode the files, but why would you want to do that?At least when during the Vinyl to CD transition, we obtained digital quality. With this proposal what you get is inconvenience and loss of quality – again just like pre-recorded MiniDiscs.

Danny J on September 23, 2008 3:52 PM

MiniDisk has 1 major difference from SD/MicroSD… MiniDisk is a proprietary construct. SD is a universal standard. And compatibility is a mute point when you consider that only devices in excess of 3 years old are incompatible with SDHC… and that only kicks in after 2 GB, which is still 3 times larger than a CD.

Warofart on September 23, 2008 6:31 PM

I think the only downside would be accumulating a lot of these things. However it would make more sense to pack in a lot of one artist’s albums, like the whole Beatles’ collection in one SD card, or maybe do one genre, like all Disco, or whatever.It seems a little wasteful to pack in just a few songs in the SD cards.Other than that, this seems a step in the right direction.

Ferd Burfel on September 23, 2008 8:03 PM

Not just for the techologically challenged, but for those that just don’t want to go the process of ripping a CD. And if the $7 to $10 price (with a USB adapter) is accurate, compare that to Sandisk’s 1GB card at $15 and the tiny reader at another $10, and a CD for $20 or more. Save time and money.

Zoodar on September 24, 2008 11:36 AM

The only thing good about this in my opinion is that it could be crazy ass cheap. A regular CD contains about 600-700 MB, and a memory card that contains 600-700 MB is anything but expensive. Otherwise, it’s a useless idea. And Sandisk actually tried this idea before. Anyone remember Gruv? It didn’t work then, why should it work this time?

aeioux schemata on September 24, 2008 2:34 PM

I wonder how confident ‘lay’ people in the street are going to be that this format is sufficiently universal and futureproofed enough for them?Also : duplication. Are SanDisk going to be forced by the major labels to restrict the number of transfers from the SD/SlotMusic card to a portable device? Or are they only permitting playback directly from the card itself when docked in the device? A backwards step surely. If indeed they do allow copying from the card, how exactly does this change the piracy/DRM issue significantly from the majors point of view? What’s the catch here?I do agree with Grahm that the appeal to many is the physicality of the music they’ve bought – and I could imagine some neat little wallets with Art to hold each card :) But then there’s the issue of losing a plethora of such small objects…I’m intrigued to see where they go with this.

Homersipson on September 24, 2008 2:37 PM

Actually checking out Sandisk’s site and seeing their estimates of how much music could fit on the cards, it is clear that they are not even talking about the highest quality settings on the mp3′s either. Figure on 128kbps. I agree with the others who say that if this were lossless compression, it’d have a leg to stand on. Low quality mp3′s and this is just a niche thing for the rubes who don’t know any better.

Ferd Burfel on September 24, 2008 7:26 PM

Zoodar -It was Gruvi, with an “i”. It failed probably because of DRM, costing $30, and it didn’t seem to have the backing of the record industry.It will be interesting though to see exactly how slotMusic works out. If it’s low bitrate, it won’t be worth pirating.

Narg on September 27, 2008 10:55 AM

Lots of possibilities here… This could even be a avenue for the failed HD video market. Blu-Ray has been officially shuned, so something has to take it’s place. There will be room on these cards soon to handle HD very nicely at the right price.

Ferd Burfel on October 3, 2008 12:32 PM

According to the SlotMusic website, the cards will be 1GB, and can include extras:”With 1GB (gigabyte) of capacity, slotMusic cards can hold songs, as well as liner notes, album art, videos, and other creative content that an artist may choose. Consumers can also add their own content to a slotMusic card, creating a personal plug-and-play media library.”

Andrew on October 9, 2008 2:32 AM

I like the idea, but it doesn’t seem to me that the “physical copy” crowd is going to have much love for a medium smaller than a fingernail. Just labeling MicroSD cards sufficiently is going to be difficult – keeping up with any number of them is likely to be impossible.It’d be interesting if I were proven wrong, though…I’d like to see people keep music wallets literally inside their wallet.

stolennomenclature on November 3, 2008 9:23 PM

I have not seen anyone mention the fact that flash memory is not permanent – the memory gradually leaks away. In ten years or so everyones SlotMusic cards will be blank. Good for Sandisk, im not sure this is good for the consumer. Although by then MicroSD will probably have joined the ever increasing ranks of outmoded technology and something else will have come along, and we can all buy our albums over again.

Reipsadeus on December 21, 2008 4:18 AM

It is all about the cassette!!! It is making a comeback. I can feel it in my veins!!!SNOOTCH TO THE NOONTCH!!!

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