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
    misanthropic humanist, 14 Dec 2006 @ 3:45pm

    Can't con an honset man

    Snake oil salesmen. They can be very persuasive. A good salesman can sell snow to Eskimos and it's all about psychology, charm and persistance. People buy into all sorts of things, not on their merits, but on the job the salesman did. So even Bill Gates, a presumably smart man, was hoodwinked into a position where he believed DRM could work. So were countless other presumably very smart people in big companies. How?

    We all know as computer scientists and IT savvy people that copy protection and DRM are logically flawed at the most fundamentally basic mathematical and physical levels right? There will never be a copy protection system that works, ever. But smart people buy into things they *want* to believe in just as quickly as J Random Fool in the street.

    And just like those 419 scam victims, once you've bought the magic snake oil nobody is going to convince you you were wrong, it's a matter of pride that can cause deep denial and bizzarre behaviour to justify your mistake.

    Thats where the major lables are now. They still want to give Mr Umbugoola one more call to Nigeria to see if that cheque is in the mail yet like he promised.

    Basically, they were had, hoisted by their own greedy make-believe world of magic copy "protection". Somewhere there are some very wealthy software engineers laughing it up right now.

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