Barboza, David. "Google and Music Labels bet on Downloads in China." The New York Times. 5 April 2009.
This article addresses one of the most recent experiments in new profit models based on digital music: Google's free music search engine in China. Very recently, several of the biggest international record labels partnered with Google and a Chinese company (top100.com) to offer a free music-download service. Because online piracy of music is particularly rampant in China, the success of this model could have lasting implications on policies in the US. The New York Times article offers both critical and supportive opinions on the initiative. Notably, Google will have to struggle to contain the music-downloading to China, employing "legal and technical hurdles."
The partnership of Google with major international music labels represents a new way for record companies to remain profitable without trying to stop free music downloads. This unlimited-download service is supported not through subscription, but by advertisements. Although it is difficult to anticipate the success of such a model, the adoption of this idea certainly reflects a major change in the way that the entertainment industry is approaching its consumers. The willingness of labels (even on this controlled scale) to abandon control over music distribution to this degree is a symptom of their desperation, certainly. However, it is likely also a necessary move towards a new kind of support for music development.