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.

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Comments on “It Takes More Than A Single MP3 To Embrace The DRM-Free World”

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Don says:

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.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

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.

Don says:

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.

cynicalmousepaw says:

"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.

indi says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

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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