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Bomb Garden 

by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & SHOCK JAW & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he jaw just drops and drops and keeps dropping. Monday was a historic day for how low a jowl -- mine specifically -- can go. First: Rumors circulate that Coldplay is probably leaving EMI to fly label-less. Jaw drops just a tad. Franchise bands jumping ship are getting pretty common, but it's still funny to imagine the havoc then exoduses cause.

Second: Warner Brothers announces plans to buy Insound, an indie-catering competitor of iTunes, getting in on the retail end of the music game and allowing the group to potentially make even more money off its Alternative Distribution Alliance with indie labels like Sub Pop and Matador. Jaw drops a little more because this seems like a smart move. Diversifying vertically. It's not as smart as buying LiveNation would be, but baby steps.

Third: Sony BMG, clearly knowing I'm a sucker for stupidity, has come up with probably the most ridiculous sales strategy for copy-free digital music imaginable. After coming late to the copy-free party, the last label to offer digital music free of digital restrictions is imposing a big, analog one. As of Jan. 15, you'll be able to get their catalogue copy-free, but only if you physically walk to Target or Best Buy and purchase a voucher, then walk home and enter a secret code into the label's own proprietary Website. Oh yeah: The voucher'll cost $13! Whut the eff.

If I'm totally itching to finally cop Mariah Carey's 1997 sexual-awakening album Butterfly (and I am), why wouldn't I just buy the CD and rip it to my computer? I'd get a higher sample rate and I wouldn't have to wait for the download. Or, if I don't want to leave the house, I could buy a copy-protected version, burn it to CD, then rip the CD back to my computer (voila, copy-protection gone) faster -- and cheaper -- than buying some dumb-ass voucher at Target.

Sony's like taking off the handcuffs and strapping on the bondage gear. Still restrictive, just a little more sadistic.
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