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
    Danny, 1 Jan 2008 @ 8:04pm


    Here in new zealand we dont even have a fair use clause for transfering music to other media among our personal possessions. However, I have not heard of anyone being prosecuted unless they sell burnt music or server thousands of tracks. our version of the RIAA is called APRA and is the artistic and performance recording association who act as a single point of contact to assist with licensing music for commercial, and private use. I think this, and the information these organisations can provide is an invaluable service to ensure Artists and people who are paying for music are in touch. Whatever else they do is usually by collective or executive decision, and like all businesses they tend to go off the best information they have. If you suspected customers were walking out with 20% of your product without paying, you would install security cameras. Yet the estimates of piracy were spiralling higher for years based on a percentage of sales, which in itself is a bit flawed. However, how can you estimate the scale of an invisible crime. You cant. And how do you value something you didnt buy. Does that say that you dont value it, dont know what value it has yet, or that you are cheap? I prefer to think that for most people it is the 'dont know yet', and when we get given music from a friend to try, when we can we will buy an album by that artist. Nowadays I like the freedom of purchasing single tracks via the internet. But I also like being able to hear samples and radio internationally, peddling more than just recycled pop tunes. Most of all, I have enjoyed the so called "pirate radio" and undernet distribution networks simply because many showcase music such that I have never heard in a music store, street corner or concert here in New Zealand. However, most have not been worth keeping, nor finding the artist or an album. That said, I have spent alot of time and money on itunes and emusic because they are so ready to use and quick to download. Torrents might be good for the usual crap, but what if you want to find something old or slightly unusual quickly and then download quality info covers and at broadband speed?
    Now what I would like is a revival site, like napster was before they killed it. Revival? Yes, songs and music that were killed by time. The ones you cannot find on Itunes, CD stores or emusic. Things like "Return to yogia" by Sha Abahn or the old 75 RPM recordings that didn't make it to the CD age. How would you stop kiddies loading up new pop music on the site? Moderators. but really...Who cares, kiddies have ooddles of time and usually no credit cards, let them be and maybe their parents will buy them music for xmas instead of a sweater.

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