It Takes More Than A Single MP3 To Embrace The DRM-Free World

from the jump-in,-the-water's-warm dept

The Wall Street Journal is excitedly claiming that the recording industry, in a "turnabout," is now releasing unrestricted MP3s. From the headline, that sounds exciting, and would be really impressive if it were true that the industry was finally recognizing how much damage copy protection has done to their market over the years. It's given Apple tremendous power over the labels by putting them in the power seat, while shrinking the labels' overall market by limiting who could actually make use of the files and what they could do with them. So, plenty of people have been pushing for the big labels to recognize the value of moving to unrestricted MP3s -- and the success of both E-Music and Allofmp3 (no matter how legal or illegal it may be) in getting people to buy unrestricted files should show that there's a market for them. So, what's the evidence that these record labels have turned around their thinking? Apparently, it's the fact that one label has decided to release one song as an unrestricted MP3. It's not at all clear how that's a turnaround, or even a trend worth WSJ treatment. After all, it's not even new. Yahoo has already done a few tests with different labels and unrestricted songs -- and this is more of the same. While it's good to see some very, very tiny experiments, that's hardly a turnaround and it's hardly a recognition of the problems caused by copy protection. It's just a weak admission that these labels still don't know what they're doing so many years after it's become clear to plenty of other people that this is the direction they have to go in.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    SimplyGimp, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 3:16am

    Eh....

    Boy, one song huh? I bet it's some American hip-hop trash, or even better yet, (c)rap!

    Let me know when something IMPORTANT happens...

     

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  2.  
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    Tony, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 3:17am

    A lot more to go

    99 bottles of bear on the wall 99 bottles of beer you take one down and pass it around...

     

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  3.  
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    Derek, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 3:45am

    Re: Eh....

    Actually it's a Norah Jones song from her upcoming album. They're guessing that her fanbase will be more likely to buy the entire thing even if they get a copy of the song from a friend, who already bought it (or got it from a friend). I suppose listening to the song on the radio wouldn't have the same effect.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 4:14am

    So if I were to fart in a microphone I could sell it for a ridiculous price and limit how you could play back my farts? I can see how they like this model....

     

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  5.  
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    Don, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:33am

    Personally I think ALLofMP3 has a good business model in pay by the megabyte and offer multiple formats. The better the quality the bigger the file the more you pay. And I think someone could charge twice, maybe even three times, the rates per meg they charge and still make a windfall.

    Personally I'm waiting to see how MySapce's planned music store does if and when it is finally unveiled. If they do it right (which I'm sure they probably won't) they could be that final (or next to final) nail in the RIAA/Major label's coffin.

     

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  6.  
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    Stephen, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 5:48am

    This isn't turnaround. It's a promotional idea. Like putting a mini-CD single in McDonald's Happy Meals. Whoopee!

     

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  7.  
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    MissingFrame, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    And how do you buy this?

    I just spent 5 minutes perusing their site and it still seems I'm required to download their software to buy the song.

     

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  8.  
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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Dec 6th, 2006 @ 6:51am

    Of course it's a good business model, for crooks..

    Of course allofmp3 has a good business model, hide in a country that has looser copyright standards and look the other way when you sell to customers in the U.S..

    Even if you don't care about legality, do you care about the artists not getting a cut? Granted, under the iron fist of the RIAA, they may get little or nothing anyway, but at least you're being legal about it.

    On the other hand, eMusic has a great business model, although pricing per track regardless of length can lead to some odd situations (certain albums can be grotesquely over- or underpriced), but they are much cheaper than their DRM-shackled competitors, and if you aren't hogtied into the crap being excreted by the big labels and are willing to experiment and explore, they are an incredible value. I've been a subscriber for over a year and now get most of my music from them.

    DRM will continue to become more and more onerous until a large proportion of the customer base rebels, which may never happen. In the meantime, you should patronize a company that isn't a crook and doesn't treat you like a crook.

     

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  9.  
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    DIE ALREADY PLEASE, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 6:54am

    I will be glad when this is over. Its a dead horse. Who cares what they do? We dont need them and they cant stop me. PERIOD!

     

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  10.  
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    SHUT-UP, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 6:56am

    Re: Of course it's a good business model, for croo

    YOU ARE AN IDIOT!

     

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  11.  
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    cynicalmousepaw, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 7:10am

    "Mickey D's" free mini-cd

    Or the free cd's you get in cases of beer.

    I am careful about what I install on my computer. I played a "free" cd from a reputable source (I thought) and it installed obtrusive and hard-to-get-rid-of links to a bunch of data-mining sites. I now stay away from "free." There always seems to be a hook. I look at it this way: they want something from me. What is it? No "thing" is ever free.

     

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  12.  
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    cb, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 7:19am

    right

    Sales must be down. They are trying to increase sales to the public and then bam, they go right back to their old tatics. BEWARE OF THE BIG BAD WOLF

     

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  13.  
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    Don, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 7:51am

    Re: Of course it's a good business model, for croo

    Even if you don't care about legality, do you care about the artists not getting a cut? Granted, under the iron fist of the RIAA, they may get little or nothing anyway, but at least you're being legal about it.

    For one thing, looser legalities or not the site pays it's royalty fees like they are suppose to. If the RIAA and the major label's don't want to accept the royalty payments for fear of losing their iron fisted control of the industry that's not the website's problem.

    Secondly, the whole argument about the artist getting paid is a paper ghost to enlist sympathy that some poor down and out musician might be starving when the reality is that most artists see little or no money off their albums do to the payment structures the industry imposes on them. If anyone is stealing from the artists, it is the labels. If you really really want to the artists to get paid properly then stop supporting the RIAA.

    For myself I used to buy 100+ albums a year from 87-2001. From 2001-2006 I only bought maybe a dozen albums, and then only from the artists directly. So far this year I've bought maybe 60-70 actual CDs, but only from second hand stores or the actual artists themselves, and maybe 50-60 albums from eMusic (I'd buy from ALLofMP3 but I've had technical problems with the site since I first tried in May). And I will continue to buy exclusively from eMusic, secondhand stores and directly from the artists themselves (who generally get the bulk of their album sales in this case).

    The RIAA and the major labels are totally within their rights to sell their merchandise anyways they want. And I am perfectly within my rights to tell them their products suck and take my business elsewhere. If enough people do that, then eventually the bands/musicians will stop selling their rights away to the major labels when they find they can make more money by doing a little of the work themselves. Because under the RIAA/major label model the artist certainly don't benefit, and the comsuers certainly don't benefit. The only people that benefit are high priced executives and stockholders who had a little money to seed for a continual return on their investment for doing more or less nothing.

     

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  14.  
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    indi, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 8:09am

    booyaa

    Don hit right on the head. RIAA doesn't help anything except for filling there greedy lil pockets. IF the music is that good I will buy right from the band. By pissing off consumers they are only hurting themselves, and thats why last month I bought a 4 gig sansa mp3 player instead of a piece of crap ipod and be forced to use the shitty ass itunes software and shitty ass DRM music files. If RIAA keeps it up soon everyone will be riding the bit torent wave.

     

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  15.  
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    MIXLPLIX, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 8:23am

    Re: booyaa

    Use Anapod Explorer for your ipod not itunes. It cost about $30 and it gives you full access to your ipod (i.e. you can take things off).

     

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  16.  
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    The infamous Joe, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: booyaa

    Also, winamp is what I use for all my ipod needs... it's free, to boot!

     

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  17.  
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    BEFore, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    Norah Jones? Again?

    I love Norah Jones -- at least her first album.
    But she has had free mp3 versions of her songs on her site for a LONG time. (They may have been taken down recently -- I haven't visited it in a while.)

    So ... even LESS news.

    Good job 'news' reporters!

     

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  18.  
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    rijit (profile), Dec 6th, 2006 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re: Of course it's a good business model, for

    "The only people that benefit are high priced executives and stockholders who had a little money to seed for a continual return on their investment for doing more or less nothing."

    Oh, you mean the Liers.... err Lawyers.

     

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  19.  
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    mixlplix, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 10:19am

    I have seen all but one record store go out of biz in my city. The one that is left , in the mall, downsized and carries mostly other merch. Tower Records went bankrupt. The ppl are speaking. Just listen to the harmony. Ahh

     

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  20.  
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    MMMMM, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    Music to my ears.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 10:33am

    I don't understand why...

    Artist makes the songs. Label provides funds for the songs to be recorded. Artist records songs. Label provides funds to market and distribute albums. Artist make little money, Label makes a killing (if artist does well) - I think we can do better than that.

    Let's say that a big name group like the "Goo Goo Dolls" decides that they hate their label and want to do things on their own. If they were to fron't the money to record the album, anywhere between $500,000 and $1.5 m (depending on the studio and producers and such) - they could release their music in digital format for practially nothing online. Let's say they release their album online and charge $.99 a song or $10 an album. All they would need to sell is 150,000 albums to break even. Everything above and beyond can go into producing the actual cd's. Not to mention what they bring in from concerts.

    The point is to kill the middle man - out with the labels.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    I love it! Music to my ears too!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 1:14pm

    when you say the artist does well, you mean they become popular on the music charts, and they sell records? not that the artist makes money?

     

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  24.  
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    mixlplix, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Re:

    well put

     

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  25.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 7:35pm

    I think the suggested price for a recording studio is somewhat too high, at least for a biasic one, since I have freinds who recorded for far less than that, although they had thier own technician and knew the owners of the studio well, and the studio was a little, fairly basic one. OTOH, the sound quality of the music was fine, no b/g noise.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 7:11am

    If I could find the song to buy and download, I would, just to show the success of DRM-free.

     

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