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A Death Blow to DRM

Less than two months after Apple chief executive Steve Jobs challenged record labels to stop insisting on "digital rights management" copy restrictions, one of the major record labels took him up on the invitation.

This morning, EMI Music announced that it would allow customers to buy music off Apple's iTunes Store--and later, other music stores--without any "DRM" encumbrances, and in a higher-quality format than before. What EMI Group chief executive Eric Nicoli called "premium digital downloads" will be offered as an alternative to its existing, copy-controlled fare. "They will be free from digital rights management... secondly, they will have vastly improved sound quality," Nicoli said.

Nicoli cited earlier, successful experiments in selling high-quality, DRM-free downloads to justify this move. While EMI's new offerings won't be available at major online stores immediately, one of the label's major new artists--The Good, The Bad & The Queen--began selling its new album in MP3 format on its own Web site today.

Jobs predicted that EMI will have plenty of company in selling DRM-free music on iTunes. "Starting today, Apple will reach out to all the other major and independent labels to give them the same opportunity," Jobs said. "We estimate that well over half of the five million tracks offered on iTunes today will also be offered in DRM-free versions by the end of this calendar year."

So here's how it will all work on the iTunes Store: Starting in May, you'll be able to pay 99 cents for the same 128-kbps AAC, DRMed file as before, or you can pay $1.29 for an AAC file with twice the quality, at a 256-kbps bit rate, and none of the restrictions. Better yet, albums and music videos will cost the same with or without DRM. EMI must want this to succeed very, very badly.

You'll also be able to upgrade old EMI purchases for 30 cents each. Apple says it will provide a "one-click option" to identify EMI purchases in your iTunes library and swap them out for new, DRM-free, double-the-quality versions. (That should get around the problem of finding EMI purchases in the first place--iTunes doesn't provide a way to search or browse for music from a particular record label.)

More details are available in the press releases from Apple and EMI. You can also listen to a recording of the announcement online.

I think it's the right move by Apple and EMI--far, far better news for consumers than the news some had incorrectly forecast, the arrival of the Beatles' catalogue on iTunes--and I look forward to seeing how other record labels and other music-download stores react to it.

What do you think of this new deal? If you've bought EMI music off iTunes, will you upgrade it when you get the chance? Will this make you more likely to buy EMI music in the first place?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  April 2, 2007; 12:19 PM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Comments

This might get me interested in buying a iPod. I've studiously avoided the technology until now because of the low audio quality and DRM.

Posted by: Upaj Os | April 2, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The pirate / napster crowd have been DRM free for a decade. This move by EMI is an acknowledgement that consumers have already chosen DRM free solutions. Whether the consumers will now pay for the EMI-backed, double quality songs or just download for free off peer to peer networks is a bold experiment. At least EMI is now facing reality, congratulations!

Posted by: Loa Veve | April 2, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

This makes total sense. Bravo Apple - first for creating the digital music market and second for this move to make it even more consumer friendly. I am convinced that if the price point and quality of music is correct for the consumer market then it will automatically abate the rampant piracy that the majors complain about. Why would a consumer risk a low quality, potentially virus infected digital file for a clean, unrestricted high quality file for a $ or so.... seems so obvious - what am i missing ?

Posted by: Moonie | April 2, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I laugh at those who complain of the "low audio quality;" you have to have faaar better ears and/or headphones than most -- or listen in a faaar quieter environment than most do -- to be able to complain of the quality of 128AAC.

Yes, I prefer my MP3s ripped at 192, but AAC is a cleaner format and for MOST listening, just fine.

Otherwise, stick with vinyl. It's just tough to use on the elliptical...

Posted by: Bush -- not related | April 2, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

now the only thing stopping me from buying music is high prices. paying more than a few cents for something that costs nothing to duplicate infinitely doesn't fly with me. Media companies need to face the harsh reality that information is already free, and charging for it is becoming increasingly inneffective. Those clever enough to realize that you can find anything for free on the internet stopped paying for software and media years ago. The rediculous truth is that anyone with half a brain can, always could, and will always be able to copy music for free, directly from the speakers if need be.

The only leverage media companies have is making their service easier and of higher quality than what can be had for free. I would be willing to pay a flat rate of 20 a month for unlimited DRM-free high quality music. I'm sure other readers would agree.

Posted by: bob | April 2, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

So, what stops the bit torrents of the world from distributing the entire EMI catalog for free?

Posted by: Peter | April 2, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

DRM free, lossless encoding at $.99. Until then, only music ripped from purchased CDs. Any questions?

Posted by: dinh | April 2, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd be unlikely to buy updates, but for future single-track purchases, I'd pay the extra 30¢ for the higher-quality, DRM-free version. My iPod usage is mostly outdoors, on public transit, etc., so higher quality is not a huge selling point. But the ability to shuffle songs around and burn different compilations for the car without worrying about DRM would be a plus.

Posted by: Charlie | April 2, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with bob, smart people can not be expected to pay $10 for 10 songs or even $1 for one song, when it doesnt cost anything to replicate the files. If the record companies want everyone to pay for music they will have to sell the audio at very low prices, like $.25 a song, as far as the musicians are concerned they are going to have to tour in order to create revenue for themselves. We will see, in 10 years their will be no music piracy, because the effort to find free music will not equal the low sale price. Thats just the way it will have to be.

Posted by: kevin | April 2, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

This is definitely a step in the right direction... I think for me the perfect solution would be DRM free files, backed by a CD shipped out at some point in the future... so keep the iTunes model, make files DRM free, and every few weeks or so, batch up all of the albums purchased by a given user and send them the actual CD that goes with it (jewel case + liner notes + disc). That cuts down on shipping costs by packaging them all up at once, and gives the user a permanent, archivable backup.

I'd actually be willing to pay _more_ for that kind of service... let's say $9.99 for the album, which seems to be a standard price on iTunes right now, then an extra $5 to have the CD shipped out later. Instant gratification + physical product!

Posted by: jr | April 2, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

So, what stops the bit torrents of the world from distributing the entire EMI catalog for free?

Posted by: Peter | April 2, 2007 01:50 PM

The same thing that stops them now. Nothing.

Posted by: Danby | April 2, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

This deal isn't important for what is does for consumers. That's nice and much appreciated. It's much more important in terms of making it more difficult for Microsoft to lock in companies like EMI. i.e. Consider the DRM infected Vista. Get rid of DRM, then there is no reason for crippling PCs such as MS is doing.

That, in my opinion, is much more important.

Posted by: No Tellin | April 2, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing. The younger the generation gets, the more it wants for free. To equate music making (i.e. the composing, the rehearsing, the playing, the recording) as nothing more than "information" and therefore free, is patently ridiculous and a slap in the face of any musician living or dead. i'm sure a case could be made that coffee is information too (after all it helps enliven the brain cells that process information) and therefor coffee should be free too. it's easy to slap a utopian vision on anything you dont like and then yell "UNFAIR", but the fact is that artists have to make a living, and I find it odd that so many people find that selling their music is such an offensive unfair act. Sure, you can always point at this or that example of greed in the industry, but the bottom line are the artists and there wouldn't be any industry without them.

Posted by: my goodness | April 2, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Bold move indeed. Yes it will be DRM free. But a word of caution: when you buy a track on iTunes, it will now include a watermark of the original user name and info. anything that ends up on peer2peer, RIAA will be able to track to original purchaser.

Posted by: think again | April 2, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I may be ignorant, but I never really understood why record labels would want to limit the use of their product by insisting on DRM. I mean, it's not like using recordings for personal use is a new thing. Back in the day, I would make mixes on cassette tape from vinyl. No talk of piracy then. And to limit the number of times I can burn a song just because it is in digital format is unreasonable and makes me LESS likely to buy songs if I think I am going to have pay for it more than once.

Posted by: chintzen | April 2, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Might have worked pre-Napster if the industry had been the leading force in moving to downloads... the industry missed out on being first-mover here.

Worse, most people are now in the habit of NOT paying for music - how do you convince someone now that they should voluntarily go back to paying? The music industry gave their customers a slap in the face with DRM restrictions, and their obsession over piracy became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All I hear with this is that the music industry is just beginning to wake up and see how badly they've alienated their customer base. Too little too late.

Posted by: nitro | April 2, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

In the words of Jerry Garcia; "The music is free, the show costs."

Posted by: GuyllFyre | April 2, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Steve Jobs and EMI! What people don't get is for the real Mac/Music user is the headache of being able to work with MP3's in their suite of products like Garage Band etc...I hope once these requirements are taken off i-Tunes (i-manage all your media and you will like it) and other programs may begin to play nicely with out all the extra steps. My only major complaint switch from PC to Mac.

And yes I also feel like in time I can get an i-Pod and not feel like my music is locked away from how I want to use it.

Posted by: SoapboxDave | April 2, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed at the number of people calling this lame because it's already available for free, it's already on Torrent, it costs nothing so why should people pay 1.00$ etc etc.
.
Jeeeeezzz...Cant you guys recognize a good move when you see one and just appreciate it for what it is??
.
So yes, music can be replicated for free. Lets ALL rely on ONE guy buying the CD and everybody else getting a free copy, and then lets see how many good bands are left standing after a year.
.
There is NOTHING wrong with paying a fair amount for a good product. Just because you can get an illegal copy for free doesn't make you right or getting a legal copy "lame".
.
Yes, labels are screwing artists and have been for decades. Yes, most of the money goes to the labels not the bands. But at LEAST, this is giving people who actually want to legally OWN a copy of the music to be able to do it without feeling like they are being ripped off even more than they already do.
.
It's a good step in the right direction.

Posted by: Pat | April 2, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It's sad how those who illegally download music try to legitimize stealing. Very sad.

Posted by: tango | April 2, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"It's sad how those who illegally download music try to legitimize stealing. Very sad." -

- Funny. Like you do not have illegal music, or illegal software on your computer? I'd be willing to bed you do.

Posted by: Ryan | April 2, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

If this starts catching on the record industry will once again be seeing me as a customer. My most favorite music I have already ripped from CDs and LPs but I would pay for clean, good, high bitrate MP3s. What I refuse to pay for is anything with DRM. I want the same functionality of a record or CD and that means I can bring it to a party and play it. For every fool who flaunts that they can find a free copy there are many more who will pay for what they like. However, the record companies are not losing sales to someone who will only listen to music they can find for free, by definition. The record companies have to sell to the people who *are* willing to purchase. Another idea is, as distributions costs decline, for the labels to offer lower cost marketing and management for artists to get a lot of the smaller acts to sign up and merely act as a conduit, letting the artists do their own marketing. I think every time someone purchases a track, some amount of money, no matter how small, should go to the artist. This incentive needs to exist!

Posted by: Peter | April 2, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, well... I've quit buying music because of the high price and the inaccessibility. I don't use Windows or OSX, so DRM makes it inaccessible. Brick and Mortar stores don't carry the music I like, and I refuse to pay $10 or $20 for a CD just to get a song.

But now with non-DRM music - we'll see. If I can download it and play it with linux, $1.29 is a bargain.

So... How about that iTunes linux client, eh?

Posted by: CptDondo | April 2, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

pay more for songs with lower quality? still not a good deal apple. why not remaster recordings at a higher rate than 44.1 and give some real incentive to use a download service?

Posted by: AOS | April 2, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

>> To equate music making (i.e. the composing, the rehearsing, the playing, the recording) as nothing more than "information" and therefore free, is patently ridiculous and a slap in the face of any musician living or dead.

Yeah, that is what they have been saying about open source software for years. You underestimate the value that making music has for some individuals and the fact that there are alternative ways to earn income if you are talented. If royalty income goes down, guess what, live appearance fees go up. Not to mention that you can make standard salaries working for companies that know how to leverage your work (look ma, television shows are free).

Anyway, what drives prices down is competition. Before the Internet, large scale collaboration and $0 margin distribution for the information (not the CD's etc) was impractical. This limited the amount of open source software that could be developed so companies did what maximized their profits at the time (at least what seemed easiest to do) which was to close things off to raise the barrier to competition. Ditto for music, videos, etc.

Then again, there is no Microsoft equivalent in the music business, is there? Microsoft provides quite a motivation for for-profit software/hardware/music/any-industry companies to work together. On the other hand, piracy and the threat for artists to go independent (creation, marketing, and distribution is much cheaper nowadays) probably provides a motivation for the music labels to be more realistic.

I agree that the price will be driven down significantly (noticeably below 99 cents per song), at least for a portion of the market. Look, low prices mean lower royalties from selling music online, it does not mean that the money people are willing to spend on music has gone down.

Another example, imagine a company that produces music equipment. In a competitive environment, a marketing edge is getting endorsements from well liked/respected artists. Artists get paid. Artists can even use various types of ads when performing (live, video, sound, whatever). Artists get paid because they offer a very limited commodity (their time).

What is changing is the usual way of doing business, not the money that will change hands.

http://distrowatch.com/
http://www.artistx.org/

Posted by: Jose | April 2, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

To CptDondo

iTunes clients already exist for Linux, in that they interface with iPods, e.g.,
http://packman.links2linux.org/package/gtkpod

Once music's DRM free then you can just download it onto your computer.

Posted by: GG-UK | April 2, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

>

Are you KIDDING me???!??!?

You need to read "The problem with music" from Steve Albini...then we'll talk. (google it)

Posted by: Pat | April 2, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

-->Then again, there is no Microsoft equivalent in the music business, is there?-->

Are you KIDDING me??!??!
You need to read "the problem with Music" from Steve Albini...then we'll talk

Posted by: Pat | April 2, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

" "It's sad how those who illegally download music try to legitimize stealing. Very sad." -
- Funny. Like you do not have illegal music, or illegal software on your computer? I'd be willing to bed you do."

This shows just how bad the situation is.
You can't even believe that others do not have illegal products.
I don't know about the original poster but I for one have no illegal music, video or software.
Just because it is easy to steal doesnn't make it right.
If you feel commercial offerings are a ripoff, then, as with any other products, exercise your right not to buy them, but don't steal them instead.

Posted by: Cam | April 2, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

It is definitely good to see freedom take another step forward. My hat's off to Steve.

Posted by: D.C. Parris | April 2, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

One last step EMI, drop out of the RIAA enforcement prgram.

Music is getting interresting again. I dropped out when the RIAA started enforcement. I restricted my self to CDs of independent labels for new purchasses. Now it looks like I can add EMI to my list. :-)

The money proposition in the music industry really needs to change. Running a web site and marketing doesn't require the expense stream that publishers have. Its time to cut costs. The enough money doesn't get to the artists. I care about the artists and what they create, the publisher is how I get the artist's music. That needs to factored into the equation.

Congratulations to EMI and Apple for this small start. There is a long way to go to reform the music industry. I am willing to encourage more of this by buying some music from you.

Posted by: phil | April 2, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Copyright infringement is not theft! If someone
steals a CD, it is a matter for the police.
However, if someone rips the music from this CD,
it is a matter for the civil courts. This is
a really large legal distinction.

Posted by: Jack Williamson | April 2, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

'In the words of Jerry Garcia; "The music is free, the show costs."'

That's EXACTLY right!

No one has ever paid for music in history - they've paid for ACCESS to music.

To broaden that statement, no one has ever paid for MEDIA in history - they've paid for ACCESS to a PERFORMANCE.

The only time people paid for media is during the phonograph era before cassette recorders - and even then some people used reel-to-reel recorders.

TV was always financed by advertising. Movies were a cultural fluke - they were treated as "performances" in the same manner as plays despite being really playbacks of media.

The conundrum for the movie industry now is how to finance large scale productions - and make a profit from them - when technology has lessened the value of playback of media and enabled the easy redistribution of media.

The future of music on the other hand is clear: it is live broadcast over the Net. This will enhance the artist relationship with the consumer more efficiently than "albums", reduce (if not eliminate) the cost of marketing, distribution and touring, reduce the need for a label to do marketing and distribution, and increase the percentage of artist profit.

None of this has anything to do with legality, morality, or anything other than the interplay of economics and technology. Those who try to make it an issue of laws or morality will find themselves on the losing - read: bankruptcy - end. It is no more possible to restrict the redistribution of content than it is to restrict the distribution of drugs or ANY black market commodity - nor is it necessary. In fact, the opposite is true and that has been established in most "black market" situations by any rational economic analysis.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | April 2, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh give me a break Rob. Steve Jobs is not solely reponsible for getting EMI to change their position. Do you think maybe the whole countries of France and Norway saying 'screw you' to Mr Jobs & itunes had anything to do with it? What about those of us that have always championed the rights of the end users and said 'no thanks' to drm music? What about those of us that didn't just bend on over and buy into the low-quality crap that is itunes just because the ipod is so cute?

Posted by: Not Made On A Mac | April 3, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

There's unlimited supply
And there is no reason why
I tell you it was all a frame
They only did it 'cos of fame
Who?

E.M.I. E.M.I. E.M.I.

Posted by: Rotten Pirate | April 3, 2007 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Give me DRM-free mp3 files, and now we're talking. None of this proprietary AAC sh*t.

Posted by: noname | April 3, 2007 2:15 AM | Report abuse

I am pretty skeptical of the recording business.
Currently, jamendo (http://www.jamendo.com) and magnatune (http://magnatune.com) are my favorite things in music, at least when combined with rhytmbox music player which connects to them automatically.

However, I think realistically, in the future music is going to have to come down in price to something like $0.75 or much less per song with full CD quality.

iPods still don't support ogg format, and I don't see why I should pay more for twice the bitrate and no DRM when they both should already be standard.

In another week or so ubuntu linux 7.04 comes out, and it has a feature much like iTune music store only it finds and downloads free music.
In the future I think more users will switch to such platforms where they can actually use their computers freely and without hassle and encumbrance by abusive zealot companies trying to abuse copyright law.

Posted by: UbuntuGuy | April 3, 2007 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Now Ballmer&Co. can kiss their Fist-A goodbye:

http://www.bravegnuworld.org

Hasta la Fist-A, Baby!!!

Posted by: HarryTuttle | April 3, 2007 6:41 AM | Report abuse

"...and without hassle and encumbrance by abusive zealot companies trying to abuse copyright law."

Doublespeak if there ever was any. Orwell would be proud of you.

Posted by: my goodness | April 3, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

>>"- Funny. Like you do not have illegal music, or illegal software on your computer? I'd be willing to bed [sic] you do."

Ever notice how people who have no ethics assume no one else does either?

Hey, Ryan, I do not have ANY illegal music or illegal software on my computer. PERIOD!

Yeah, I know you can't possibly believe that because you assume that the rest of the world must be just like you. Happily, I am not.

Posted by: ron | April 3, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Looks like I might start buying music again. I have been so annoyed by the different DRM schemes of the past couple of years that I just flat out stopped buying music. Hopefully, the other labels will follow and my music habit will resume.

Posted by: Brian | April 3, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

That might be enough to get me to consider using iTunes for something other than iTunes only rarities.

As for the people who think that 128AAC sounds fine, no. It depends on the recording, but there are many that sound washed out. I'm disappointed with the sound of a number of my iTunes purchases.

Posted by: slar | April 3, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Hoo-Ra. Music to the masses. I have a vinyl collection of over 1000 albums and have transfered quite a bit of it to i Tunes. On the rare occasion that I like something new I am more than happy to pay for it so everyone gets their due. p2p isn't going to break the artists back and readily avalable music makes it easier to determine a purchase. Time has shown that restrictions are no deterrent to downloading music. Less money will be wasted by not tying up resourses to thwart pirates.

Posted by: troutmask | April 3, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

If Apple *really* wanted to make a push into non-DRM they would support FLAC, but apparently not so. Imagine not having to screw around with bit-rate encoding decisions, no quality loss, smaller file sizes (compared to .wav) and no DRM. Wow, what a concept.

Posted by: JC | April 3, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I have a hard time believing some folks don't want to pay $0.99 for a song. You think nothing of paying a buck or two for a soda or candy bar or coffee and it is gone in 30 minutes.

You can listen to a song over and over and potentially enjoy it for years. It is a bargain!

What you are paying for is the artist's creativity and vision. For the pleasure that my favorite music gives me, I don't mind throwing back my $0.99. (Even if the record labels eat most of it) And no, I do not have a single illegal download on my computer for those cynics who might wonder.

Posted by: Evie | April 3, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing. The younger the generation gets, the more it wants for free.
.... but the fact is that artists have to make a living, and I find it odd that so many people find that selling their music is such an offensive unfair act. Sure, you can always point at this or that example of greed in the industry, but the bottom line are the artists and there wouldn't be any industry without them.

Posted by: my goodness | April 2, 2007 03:22 PM

----

Artists do not make money off of record sales. Read Courtney Love's essay on Salon.com. They make money from touring and selling tshirts.

Posted by: ERM | April 3, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Actually 'noname', AAC isn't a proprietary format: it's an open standard and doesn't require any licensing or payments to use. MP3 does require licensing to use and that alone has led to some pretty big lawsuits recently.

Posted by: PK | April 3, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I have a hard time believing some folks don't want to pay $0.99 for a song. You think nothing of paying a buck or two for a soda or candy bar or coffee and it is gone in 30 minutes.
-----

When you can buy a whole album for $1.50 at allofmp3.com -- why pay $0.99 per SONG on iTunes? I think amiestreet has it best - let the songs increase in price depending on consumer demand. At their website songs start free and get more expensive the more people buy them. Sure, the radio single I can't get out of my head might be worth $0.99, but the rest of the crap songs might barely be worth $0.02.

Posted by: ERM | April 3, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

If Apple *really* wanted to make a push into non-DRM they would support FLAC, but apparently not so. Imagine not having to screw around with bit-rate encoding decisions, no quality loss, smaller file sizes (compared to .wav) and no DRM. Wow, what a concept.

Posted by: JC | April 3, 2007 10:15 AM
---

Every single file I have bought off of places where they allow different formats has been FLAC. Why pay the same price as a CD for less than full fidelity?

Posted by: ERM | April 3, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Also, regarding Linux iTunes clients, as far as I can tell they can sync and work with iPods but *can't* access the iTunes Store. That functionality requires OS X or Windows, unfortunately (though if Apple offered an full-featured iTunes client for Ubuntu, I'd jump on it immediately and use Windows less and less . . .).

Posted by: PK | April 3, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

The future of music on the other hand is clear: it is live broadcast over the Net. This will enhance the artist relationship with the consumer more efficiently than "albums", reduce (if not eliminate) the cost of marketing, distribution and touring, reduce the need for a label to do marketing and distribution, and increase the percentage of artist profit.
--

Except recently they passed a law to tax the living daylights out of online broadcasters!

Posted by: ERM | April 3, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Interesting responses here, but I can't agree with many of them.

* About lossless formats: You do realize that an album in FLAC (or Apple Lossless or Windows Media Lossless) will weigh in at about 300 megabytes, right? So your downloads will take about about 3 times as long, and each song will need 3 times as much storage as before--all in return for a difference in audio quality you'll need dog ears to detect.

* About "proprietary" AAC: It's not. This format is every bit as open as MP3.

* About "Artists do not make money off of record sales": Then why does every band that plays a local club have CDs for sale at the front door? Sure, it's possible for a major-label artist to make no money off their CD sales--but it's a huge stretch to say that about every artist.

* About the low, low prices of allofmp3.com: Can we please stop pretending that this is a real store that pays musicians for their work? You might as well just get your music off peer-to-peer--the artists involved will get the same amount of money either way. (And with peer-to-peer, at least you don't run the risk of the Russian mafia winding up with your credit card info.)

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | April 3, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I was downloading a ton of stuff from the MSN store up until a few months ago (all paid for of course). Then I tried to transfer it to another computer that I owned. This was when MS changed DRM schemes between WMP 10 and 11. The problems I ran into were ridiculous! One reply from MS tech support had me editing the registry to get the new DRM scheme to work! Then it still didn't work! I can only imagine what my mother, or another average user would have done at that point. It ticked me off to the extent that I searched for and found a tool to remove the DRM from the songs that I had bought so I could transfer them as I was legally entitled to do. This led me to emusic. The selection isn't all it could be (for me anyway), but at least the songs are DRM free and 40 downloads for about $15 a month. Bottom line? DRM sucks!

For me the issue isn't about the sound quality as I'm not much of an audiophile, but the ease of use. When I'm prevented from utilizing something I bought by technical issues it drives me insane!

As to the question about 'pay or pirate', I paid for the songs I downloaded because I want to hear them, and I want the artists that produce them to make more of the music that I like. One of my favourite bands is the CruxShadows. They aren't on a big label so they don't have the 'support' of the propaganda machine. There aren't many bands making this kind of music so I want them to endure. The way to do this is to PAY them for what they make.

For the people in this thread that have suggested that all music should be available for free download, I say to you that when you start working for your current employer for nothing, then you can make that statement and have it mean something. Until then? Please be quiet. You make baby Jebus cry.

Posted by: Mark | April 3, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I'd comment here but I've noticed that as the comments progress, each poster is smarter and more righteous than the last and they get smarter and more righteous. I simply can't compete. And for all the folks who will only now start to buy music again, know that we missed you. Welcome back, really.

Posted by: johburke | April 4, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I am not particularily worried about driving the media marketers or the artists who provide them with product into the ground. Nine year olds - not all but some - can do a passable job of presenting what passes for music in the market these days. These artists and companies have not earned and do not deserve the high incomes they are getting from slavish, conformist consumers of media product.

If the producers and marketers vanish tomorrow, then they will be replaced instantly by a much flatter and broader production system - many bands, many local styles, with higher levels of variability and creativity, distributed by smaller, less profitable organizations. Creativity will be more effectively and widely rewarded. Consumers will be better off.

At the other end of the spectrum, music which demands high level of technical skills and artistry to perform will still be available, because of the concert and album markets, and because of the higher propensity to consume that product by high income consumers of "sophisticated" taste.

The sooner the existing production and marketing system disintegrates, the better.

Posted by: Jim Pivonka | April 7, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I think, that is interesting for all.

Posted by: KenMarshall | April 19, 2007 3:24 AM | Report abuse

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