Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Help Save Ruckus

I got my super pink wristband this morning to see Bill Gates! He's coming to UT on Wednesday so you can bet that I'll be blogging about it later that day. Hopefully it'll be inspirational or educational or both. Additionally, there will be an Obama-Clinton debate broadcast nationally from campus and I can't imagine I'll be able to get a ticket but I'll probably talk about that on Thursday as well. So it's kind of a strange week, though I'll have another normal post this weekend, I'm sure. Oh, and thanks for the feedback on my teaser. I've received as much feedback from people that hate it as people who are intrigued. For the record: the large amount of text is on purpose because it's a teaser. I'm low on footage here because we barely started 2 weeks ago; give me a break!

I'm here to write a brief post supporting Ruckus. If you're not a college student, you may not care about the rest of this post. Basically, Ruckus is a completely legal way to download free music. How is this possible? Advertising on the site and on the music player you use to play the music because it's strapped with DRM.

I know, I know: DRM is evil. I tend to agree, but the whole point of this site is to show labels that music can be distributed online for free to poor demographics like college students and still earn royalties. If we don't support Ruckus and piracy continues on an upward trend among college students, we're basically telling them that we're not interested in free music unless we can steal it. I know that's not the actual case, but these people at the RIAA barely have functioning brains. The point is that Ruckus was such a great idea and tries so hard that I hate for it to end.

It has a pretty enormous selection of mainstream music and some stuff that's off-the-beaten path. I've found a lot of indie music on there and some Latin music as well, so it does include some obscure stuff. I discovered artists like Snow Patrol, Michael Buble, KT Tunstall, John Legend, Jars of Clay, Damien Rice, The Decemberists, Bloc party, and several others because of it. These are artists I definitely wouldn't have bought in the stores on my own and probably wouldn't have even gone to the trouble of trying to find illegally, but I've actually bought some of these albums (to not be bound by DRM and play them in my car and stuff) in stores after becoming addicted to them on Ruckus. It's just a great way to try albums before you buy them and check out new artists. Oh, and for a fee you can transfer the songs to your mp3 player.

It's not perfect, no doubt. The site could use a major UI overhaul. The DRM is annoying, but you can play the songs in Windows Media Player if you want to be mean and take away their ad revenues. The player always shows a banner ad, even when minimized (the banner ad isn't visible if it's not in the foreground). You have to renew your licenses on these songs every month unless you just listen to them every month (that automatically renews the songs you play). You can't really create playlists with the songs. Still, it opens you up to trying out new music without the guilt of having possibly regretted the purchase and you don't lose anything by getting Ruckus, really. When you hear a song on the radio you like you can check out the album. Or maybe an artist you hear about all the time, like Muse, but never bothered checking out because you don't want to bother with P2P and you can't afford the album. It's just too interesting of a project for us to let it die. Please, use Ruckus and tell your friends about it. They're seriously considering shutting down because of their user base size, I'm not making it up.