Pin It
Favorite

Bomb Garden 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Music, Now With Less DRM


Remember DRM? It's OK if you forgot -- the record industry is screwing consumers in so many ways, it's tough to remember them all. Here's a recap: When you buy digital copies on, like, iTunes, they're protected so that you can't easily share them with your 100 million closest friends. The constraints also restrict you from easily sharing them with yourself across platforms. That's DRM (Digital Rights Management). Since the dawn of digital downloads, it's the one thing all major labels have required.





Then, in April, industry giant EMI inked a deal with iTunes and Microsoft to offer the label's music DRM-free. There was a premium ($1.30 as opposed to $.99), but a lot of people (including myself) thought this was the push into the void. We were right, kinda.


Last week Universal -- the biggest record company in the world by market share -- decided to start testing the waters. Until the end of the year, Universal will offer DRM-free music at no extra charge (costing between $.79 and $.99). This is momentous, for the obvious reasons, but also because Universal is going to be offering the DRM-free music on most major services except Apple's iTunes.





Apple is the world's biggest seller of digital downloads. Excluding them while allowing all others has two probable motivations. 1) Universal wants to test it with less sucessful retailers so that, if the DRM plan backfires, it will have only offered easily sharable music to millions of people, rather than to a billion of them. 2) In this incredibly contentious industry-versus-end-user standoff, Universal wants to punish Apple for siding with consumers. Giving cheaper DRM-free tracks to iTunes' competitors allows them to gain market share, effectively saying, "Apple charges extra for DRM-free music, but we don't."


It's all so bitchy. I love it.





And what's not to love? The childishness and contentiousness are great, of course, but from a practical, users'-rights perspective, we now have two of the four major labels at least play-testing a world without DRM (both Universal and EMI are "Watermarking" the files, but that's another controversy altogether). Futurists and consumer advocates said it was inevitable. Now it's happening.
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Hiring Among Friends
  • Hiring Among Friends

    What's wrong with this picture? Todd Mielke wants the top job in Spokane County and his colleagues get to decide
    • May 20, 2015
  • Walking to Where, Exactly?
  • Walking to Where, Exactly?

    Publisher's Note
    • May 20, 2015
  • Too Early to Tell
  • Too Early to Tell

    What's your opinion of Emily Farris? Hint: You probably shouldn't have one yet
    • May 20, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
30th Annual ArtFest

30th Annual ArtFest @ Coeur d'Alene Park

May 29-31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Luke Baumgarten

  • Chasing Whales
  • Chasing Whales

    Let's focus less on courting big companies and focus more on nurturing big ideas
    • Feb 5, 2015
  • Completely Repellent
  • Completely Repellent

    How can we expect people to find constructive uses for space that wasn't built for them?
    • Dec 30, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • This Old House

    If it could talk, it could tell stories of three generations, along with a lot of griping from neighbors
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • On a Roll

    Just-announced reforms do little to safeguard Spokane against the danger of oil trains
    • May 6, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation