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. identicon
    Lindy, 10 Dec 2011 @ 12:20am

    I'm not bothered by the fact that the music has DRM. It would be nice to make maybe a few CDs of my favourites, but I can live with the fact I can only transfer between 1 computer and 1 phone.

    The main problem with Comes with music in our experience is it's as glitchy as can be. Not like iTunes where you download a song, plug your iPod into the computer and the iPod is synced in a matter of moments.

    The first time we had trouble with Comes with music because of daylight savings. The phone happened to say a different time to the computer by one hour and we didn't pick it up. That threw Comes with music into a spin and we got this licensing error message that stopped us being able to download music or play the songs on our phone. It took weeks of phone calls and emails to Nokia to resolve.

    Next came the problem of transferring songs to the phone from the PC after the subscription expired. My advice if you have a current subscription or are thinking of getting one - don't try and transfer your favourite songs from you PC to your Comes with music phone after the subscription is up. Fill up your phone with your favourites before. We were under the impression that the songs you download during your subscription are yours to keep - and transfer between computer and phone or vv. Warning - it will glitch if you try and transfer songs after your year is up. In our case it caused another licensing error and now we can't play any of our songs on the PC which we downloaded during our Comes with music subscription. We've lost the right to listen to all of them - even though they say you have the music for life.

    The Nokia staff try and be helpful. I feel sorry for them actually. I don't know much about DRM and all that. All I know is, the whole Comes with music - now called Music unlimited - is glitchy because of it. Only half expect it to work if you subscribe to it. And expect it to keep hiccupping during your subscription and hiccup or stop working after your subscription expires.

    In our case we subscribed to Comes with Music because we lost all our music in a fire. Music was important to us - it helped my husband rebuild his life - it helped us feel normal again.

    A few weeks ago hubby found some songs in my Comes with music PC library collection which he liked and I tried to transfer them to my Comes with music Nokia phone so he could listen to them at night. And now the DRM licensing is preventing us from listening to any of our music on the PC. All that remains of our Comes with music collection is about 110 songs on my phone. Yet another Nokia Comes with music glitch. Sigh.

    Would I buy another Comes with Music phone again? Yes. I believe we got our money's worth out of the plan.

    Do I wish it was DRM free? Yes. Because my computer is not going to last forever. Neither is their Nokia phone. The phone that came with the comes with music subscription never really worked well as a phone - it had poor reception. I've only ever sent 200 texts on it according to the outbox. But already the buttons on the phone don't work along the top row properly. So in short - I'm going to lose my music collection when the phone wears out. And like I said before - even if Nokia can resolve the glitch in the licensing problem - my PC will wear out too. And since they don't have comes with music in Australia anymore, I won't be able to buy another phone like it.

    I guess that's why most people go for iTunes.

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