DRM-Free Music Sells, Major Labels Keep Pretending The Jury Is Still Out

from the annoying-customers-isn't-good-business dept

The idea that DRM-free music might just make good business sense smolders along, as eMusic is announcing they've managed to sell 100 million unprotected songs without the world coming to an end. As part of the promotion, the customer who purchased the milestone track will have a song written about him by the Barenaked Ladies, who'll include the song on as a bonus track for their upcoming album. The record labels have consistently claimed you can't be successful selling music that isn't copy-protected -- but eMusic's second place showing (behind iTunes) shows that's clearly not the case. They continue to sell more music than Rhapsody, Napster and MSN Music combined, all while catering to indie music fans by avoiding major label content. 2006 saw a growth in smaller content providers arguing that DRM-free content can be part of a sustainable business model, but there's still a shortage of major industry players acknowledging DRM's limitations. Meanwhile the major labels continue to pretend either that the idea has no legs -- or that they need to conduct further experiments to see if demand for DRM-free content actually exists. There simply can be no talk of a trend toward unprotected content en-masse as long as the music industry continues to pursue the idea in half-assed ways.

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  1. identicon
    Eric, 18 Dec 2006 @ 9:05am

    eMusic sucks

    What's amazing about eMusic is that is succeeds in spite of having a stupid model. A monthly cap on the amount of music you can purchase just doesn't make any sense and doesn't conform to any music buying behaviors that I'm aware of. (Some months I want more than 40 tracks, meanwhile any month that I don't I feel like I'm wasting money)

    If they or someone else were to adopt a similar pricing model of AllofMp3, then I think it would fair even better against iTunes. I'd love to see a no-DRM service dominate the digital music business, but I think that eMusic's model puts off a lot of consumers that would otherwise buy music from them.

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