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), 17 Feb 2011 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You say that like it means something.

    so did you.

    you are basically saying that atoms (scarce goods) and bits (infinite goods) are the same thing, and that the laws of economics (and possibly even physics) should apply where they simply do not.

    i'm not saying that the idea isn't hard to get your head around. dudes like abraham maslow and charles darwin based just about all of their work on the idea that humans are basically hardwired to fight over scarce resources.

    As I responded to the other article, most of the younger kids and college types belong to the “more time than money” crowd. They’re willing to spend hours scrounging around the web trying to find a decent copy of the latest movie. They’re also willing to sit through ads if it means the content is “free”.

    right, and i'm saying that compared to a pirated DVD rip streamed from a local hard drive, netflix sucks miserably. it sucks in terms of video quality, reliability, and availability.

    i am saying that the product available illegally is *SUPERIOR* to the legal one in absolutely every respect.

    i am saying that netflix, hulu, boxxee, all of them could be absolutely free, as in zero dollars and zero ads, and they could offer every bit of content ever produced, and i would *STILL* choose the illegal copies because they are just better, all the way around.

    the market price for recorded content is ZERO. you can talk about morality, and tradition, and young whippersnappers all you want, but the fact of the matter is that high quality media can be digitally distributed faster, easier and for free, by file sharers.

    file sharers have solved the distribution problem. as in mission accomplished. this is the right way to do it, end of story.

    what remains for content producers is a product problem: the product that they make isn't sustainable in a market where the price for recorded media is zero.

    until the content industries can deliver something BETTER than a product which is SUPERIOR to their current offering, there just isn't a reason for them to sell the things that they are selling.

    in my mind, the only improvement to be made is the convenience that comes with legality. bit torrent is easy to do, and staying under the radar isn't hard either, it's just inconvenient.

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