Death Of Nokia's 'Comes With Music' Shows That 'Free' With DRM Is A Losing Proposition

from the dead-and-buried dept

This is from a little while ago, but I'm just catching up on some older stories. Reader Rabbit80 points us to the news that Nokia has finally put its "Comes with Music" program out of its misery and shut it down. Comes with Music was actually an interesting idea: you buy a phone and for 12 months you get free music downloads. At a conceptual level, this sounds great: you're using the abundant (free music!) to make the scarce (mobile phone!) more valuable. But, like everything, a good idea can be marred by the execution. And, in this case, the execution involved the major record labels demanding that "Comes with Music" really mean "Comes with DRM'd Music." A year and a half ago we pointed out that Comes With Music was really getting very little uptake, and the decision to kill it off just confirms how weak the pickup was.

Nokia says that it was the DRM that was the real killer:
"The markets clearly want a DRM-free music service."
And, of course, there was nothing stopping the labels from allowing a DRM-free service, but they still have this infatuation with DRM, even though they finally came around to ditching the DRM on MP3 sales.

That said, this little real world experiment once again seems to highlight how the claim that "people just want stuff for free" is a myth. Here was a case where people could get the music they wanted for free... but it came limited and so they weren't interested. It's rarely about people just wanting stuff for free. It's often about the restrictions or the convenience of things. The price is nice, but it's rarely the key factor, despite what some industry folks would like to claim.

Filed Under: drm, free, music
Companies: nokia


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  1. icon
    chris (profile), 16 Feb 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sort of puts the lie to "people just want stuff for free" being a myth, doesn't it?

    it's just not that simple.

    i'm not arguing that people don't want stuff for free, lots of people do, and when i first started pirating, that was the big motivator for me as well. in the beginning, when you have more time than money, getting stuff for free is really tempting.

    i'm arguing that piracy is not JUST about getting stuff for free. piracy is simply an all around better way to do digital media.

    i download stuff for free all the time. but i also have a netflix subscription. i use netflix for convenience mostly, not necessarily for it's actual content. it's great for being impulsive, or when i am traveling, but sucks compared to streaming media over your LAN.

    actually, before bit torrent, i used to rent DVDs from netflix, rip them, and then return the disks. i discovered that the ripz i get from bit torrent are just *WAY* better quality than the ones did myself. plus it was way less work.

    i pay for all sorts of other stuff too. i have a pair of servers with multi-terabyte arrays that i keep all my downloaded stuff on. i have a third server dedicated to downloading because the tools i use to stay under the radar of the Copyright Cops makes a PC useless for pretty much everything else. i have a couple of home theater PCs to play my files back on. i have a couple of terabyte sized external drives for trading warez with my friends. plus i run out of disk space every year or two and have to upgrade. and don't get me started portable players.

    all that gear was expensive. i also have the top bandwidth package from my ISP (a cable company no less) which is also expensive.

    so it's not that i'm cheap, far from it. i'd say that "freeloading" has cost me several grand just in hardware. no, for me it's the basic fact that pirating is just an all around better way to get media.

    the pirated product is just better: it works on any device i have, ad free, in any format i choose, and it's usually available days and sometimes weeks before retail.

    there's also the community that surrounds piracy, known as "the scene". some release groups, like FXG, don't just release very good Copies Of Things, they release copies of Very Good Things.

    i have watched quite a few good movies that i've either never heard of or would have dismissed as chick flicks or art films simply because FXG released them and i trust their taste. in cases where i know the film i want, AXXO always delivers good releases.

    i download all sorts of things: stuff i already own physical media for, stuff for other people, i even download stuff i have already downloaded because i need a different format or file type. i'll bet i downloaded "the dark knight" half a dozen times, and that was *after* paying to see it in the theater.

    there's also the anarchist/political angle, but i've gone on way too long already.

    i'm willing to pay for all sorts of stuff like bandwidth, access, equipment, or convenience, but i'm not willing to pay for content.

    as a matter of fact, i would actually pay money to be able to pirate stuff in the open without being hassled by take down notices: i.e. no block lists to manage, no encrypted connections to slow things down, no private trackers to maintain ratio on. that would be convenience that's worth paying for. i've talked about this in the past. i call it "the piracy pass."

    people don't just want stuff for free, it's not that simple.

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