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DRM's Demise Accelerates

Steve Jobs wasn't kidding when he wrote that "Thoughts on Music" essay back in February that condemned the use of "digital rights management" technology in music sales--the iTunes Store will feature DRM-free downloads by the end of this month. Similarly, EMI wasn't fooling around when it joined Apple in this new initiative; yesterday, that record label said it would also offer its catalogue in "unprotected" form on Amazon's upcoming MP3-only store, as well as a variety of European music-download sites.

This morning's column tries to get at the significance of all these moves. I think this is huge: One of the recording industry's core beliefs is disintegrating almost overnight.

Not everybody in the business believed this idea in the first place, though. People at many independent labels and smaller music-download sites have long thought otherwise--as I was reminded in some interviews yesterday, most of which didn't make the column.

"The fewer restrictions, the merrier," said Kim Coletta, founder of D.C.-based DeSoto Records. DeSoto's catalogue is available on iTunes--Coletta said it will soon be offered in DRM-free form--but has also long been sold as regular MP3 files at the Download Punk site.

Unlike most major labels, DeSoto has already made the transition from physical sales to downloads. "The amount of revenue I receive from my digital sales far surpasses what I receive from CDs," Coletta said. She's seen this in her own daily life, too: "I teach at a boys middle school three days a week. These kids, they don't buy CDs at all--they either steal music or buy it digitally."

Alec Bourgeois, publicist for D.C.'s Dischord Records, voiced similar thoughts. "We don't have a problem at all with making it more accessible to people," he said of Dischord's music. But he wasn't necessarily a fan of Apple's initiative, simply because it would involve raising the per-song price: "We'd rather keep music a little cheaper."

Dischord's catalogue is available at iTunes as well as a handful of MP3 stores--Download Punk, Other Music and eMusic. But Bourgeois said most people have continued shopping at iTunes: "The independent option isn't doing as well."

That's why it's so important when name-brand shops like iTunes and Amazon ditch DRM. Sites like eMusic, which has been selling music in MP3 form since 1998 and is the second most popular download store after iTunes, have shown it's possible: eMusic CEO David Pakman told me yesterday that the store's periodic surveys of peer-to-peer networks have found only one eMusic track being shared (which Pakman credited to eMusic's over-25 demographics, saying "peer to peer is primarily the domain of young customers"). But the major labels and music stores need to get with the program too.

My guess is that Yahoo will be the next big store to make this move. A spokeswoman forwarded this comment from Yahoo Music general manager Ian Rogers after my deadline last night:

We have long advocated for the end of DRM-encrypted music and predicted earlier this year that half of our catalogue would be DRM-free by the end of the year. We're talking to all of the major labels about the possibilities but can't comment on the specifics of the discussions.

And what about Microsoft, which has put more effort into copy-control software than almost anybody else? The company didn't sound quite so enthusiastic in a statement from Zune general manager Chris Stephenson sent by a publicist yesterday evening:

DRM will continue to play an important role in the music business, especially with the growth of subscription services and other types of discovery mechanisms. We don't have any specific announcements on our DRM-free business strategy at this time, but testing new business models is a key to unlocking the future of digital entertainment.

Customers will ultimately make this decision. When you can choose between 99-cent, digitally secured downloads at iTunes and $1.29 unrestricted ones (with better sound quality but a larger file size), which kind will you buy? What about when Amazon enters the market--will you shop there or at iTunes? Will you still shop at the Zune Marketplace or Napster if they continue to offer only copy-restricted tracks? Finally, what about the rental downloads offered at subscription sites such as Zune or Napster? Would they still appeal to you if every song you buy comes with zero usage limits?

Lots to think about... share your thoughts in the comments, and read on after the jump for some possibly-enlightening statistics about the digital-music business.


The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y., market-research firm, regularly surveys computer users to see where their music has been coming from. First we have NPD's data on the market share of the top five music-download stores in 2006:

iTunes: 70%
eMusic: 10%
Napster: 4%
MSN Music: 3%
Rhapsody: 3%

(You may remember MSN Music: It's the store Microsoft euthanized in favor of its Zune Marketplace.) As for how downloads fit into the larger music market, NPD found that iTunes had 5.5 percent of the total music-sale business in 2006, making it the fifth largest retailer in the U.S. after Amazon (6.2 percent), Target (7.9 percent), Best Buy (13.8 percent) and Wal-Mart (17.3 percent).

Then we have the piracy-versus-legit comparison--how many households downloaded songs from peer-to-peer networks (which in almost all cases means without paying for them), compared to downloads from authorized sites (which could include promotional downloads at record labels' own home pages). The numbers here reveal an interesting trend: The number of P2P-using households crept up from 13.9 million in 2005 to 15 million in 2006, but legitimately-downloading households almost doubled, from 7.6 million to 12.6 million.

The actual song traffic did not quite reflect those patterns: NPD found 3.4 billion songs circulating over P2P in 2005 and 5 billion in 2006, while 327 million files were downloaded from authorized sites in 2005 and 500 million in 2006.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 16, 2007; 7:01 PM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Personally, I can't hear any problems with the lower-quality tracks that I download from either iTunes or eMusic. I would pay a bit more for DRM-free tracks, but not for higher-quality music when I won't notice a difference.

I would buy music from whatever online store that (a) carries the music that I want, (b) offers no DRM restrictions and (c) is cheapest, in that order of priority. And I'm not interested in subscription services; if I pay for the music, I want it to be mine.

Posted by: jp | May 17, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Since sells zillions of music CDs, I wonder if the record labels will give them a better deal than they do Apple.

I'm still a fan of CDs, for superior sound quality, and other reasons.

One thing is for sure - iTune's strangle hold on the digital music market is over.

Posted by: TomT | May 17, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@ TomT -- iTune's strangle hold on the digital music market is over.

iTunes is leading the pack! Without Steve the DRM problem would be years away from being discussed. Look, Microsoft doesn't even want to think about it! Most people, myself included and my Windows-based roommates, believe iTunes developed the easiest system for music. I would much rather own the music I buy, so a subscription based service had no appeal to me. I don't want to give every on-line retailer my personal information, and since I am an Apple computer owner, it's a win-win for me. I have a few other non-iPod players, but looking toward the future, which companies do you expect to still be around in 5 or ten years from now?

Posted by: umm.huh | May 17, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

This is 2007 when quality counts in film and music.I agree with Prof Gutman in saying that DRM was suicide as the customer demands better, and not lesser quality.

Posted by: hunky | May 17, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the EMI announcements as that big of a deal. The big test is whether or not a *second* major label folds on DRM. If that happens, *then* the death of DRM becomes inevitable.

Posted by: Matt Murphy | May 17, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

DRM is dead-end business model and the sellers of music are finally are starting to wake up to that fact. Having DRM on your music is like buying a car with the hood welded shut.


Posted by: Mike | May 17, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to the iTunes Store for daring to break out of the mold. There is no doubt that nearly all consumers of music want it unhindered by needless copy-protection schemes that a) don't work, and b) penalize the legitimate user.

Again, kudos to iTunes for doing what's right!

Dave Michaels /

Posted by: Dave M. | May 17, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

i don't sign a license agreement 99% of the things i buy on a daily basis, hell if i had to pay the same price for the gas for each additional person riding in my vehicle, i'd be pissed!

when the music industry learns to realize that music is viewed as a commodity rather than "pay-per-view" maybe, just maybe they'll understand what the hell is going on and start marketing it as a commodity and let this whole rights deal go out the window just like it is with every other commodity.

Posted by: manji | May 17, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

From the article: "When [customers] can choose between 99-cent, digitally secured downloads at iTunes and $1.29 unrestricted ones (with better sound quality but a larger file size), which kind will you buy?"

How about a 3rd option - I pay $10 a month at Emusic for 30 drm-free downloads. That's only $.33 a track. Not bad imo. Alas, won't find much Britney Spears there however. Oh well!

Posted by: Eli Rector | May 17, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I would pay a little more for DRM-free music because of not wanting to risk the chance of encountering a problem trying to transfer the music to another computer/device in the future that may not support that specific brand of DRM.

It is specifically because of DRM that I hold back on buying music online and buy CDs that I then convert into MP3s.

Posted by: raveneye74 | May 17, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I can hear the difference in quality with the currently available content from todays providers.
I've also found variable bit rate files to be superior in quality to the normal single bit rate .mp3 files these companies provide.
After "A-B" testing I've found I have trouble distinguishing a 192Khz VBR (variable bit rate) file from the original .wav file, so I tend to create my tracks to this standard.
If even DRM free music doesn't come up to my standards, (read: if the files offered are not much better than 128Khz single bit rate or at least VBR) I'd rather create my own tracks from the original material, thank you.
The exception(s) will be for music I can't find through other means.
What I'd really like to see is DRM free music with my specified bit rate choices; I'd consider purchasing this type of product, but, I've never really held out hope that the music providers (are you listening iTunes and Amazon?), or the majority of the public (teens and twenty-somethings to whom music seems to be a much more disposable commodity), are going to rise to this level of sophistication anytime soon.

Posted by: DS | May 17, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

DRM can't be successful at its ultimate goal because it's trying to solve an insolvable problem. It essentially a cryptographic problem where your attacker and intended recipient are the same person. You can simultaneously allow a person access to something and prohibit access to it. It's retarded on its face.

Posted by: Bob | May 17, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

DRM can't be successful at its ultimate goal because it's trying to solve an insolvable problem. It essentially a cryptographic problem where your attacker and intended recipient are the same person. You can't simultaneously allow a person access to something and prohibit access to it. It's retarded on its face.

Posted by: Bob | May 17, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see DRM is on it's way out, but itunes current DRM is soooo easy to get around, you just burn the DRM protected songs to a CD, then delete them from your library (I keep mine backed up) then rip your cd back into Itunes with no DRM. but hey with no DRM it'll save me a few minutes everytime I buy a CD, so right on for that!

Posted by: Dave | May 17, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see DRM is on it's way out, but itunes current DRM is soooo easy to get around, you just burn the DRM protected songs to a CD, then delete them from your library (I keep mine backed up) then rip your cd back into Itunes with no DRM. but hey with no DRM it'll save me a few minutes everytime I buy a CD, so right on for that!

Posted by: Dave | May 17, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I would rather pay for a high quality DRM free download than get a crap quality download for free. Why? Because my time and my satisfaction are worth something to me.

I can't be bothered to sort through hundreds of crap MP3s on a P2P network and I don't want to spend time ripping my CDs. I'd rather someone just offer me a decent copy of it for a buck, but if I can't play it where I want, when I want (as many times as I want), then I guess I'll have to stick to the crappy P2P version.

If they really want to get my attention, they should also offer a free song from an unknown/upcoming artist for every x songs purchased.

Posted by: CanInCay | May 17, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

When DRM goes away I'll lose the excuse I've been using to pirate 99% of the music I listen to. My indignation at the labels will take a back seat to my conscience, and I'll actually start ponying up cash because I'll truly OWN the music I'm PAYING for.

No restrictions, no DRM roadblocks, and absolutely no more boot sector viruses like the one Sony was distributing on their enhanced CDs.

I give you money, you give me a product, and we both walk away clean. That's the way it should be. For that, I'll give you money.

Posted by: Mike | May 17, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse


iTunes' domination is not over at all. Frankly, the ease of use of the iTunes store (download it and it's stored where it's supposed to be and is automatically in your player) guarantees it will be the dominant player in the future. Me? I use lots of resources (wink, wink) and am constantly importing music into iTunes, changing track names and downloading album art. But my wife and father both won't go near anything BUT the iTunes store because they don't want the hassle.

As long as nothing is easier to use than iTunes, nothing will beat iTunes. Corrollary: As long as Steve Jobs keeps the iPod proprietary and doesn't allow other programs to interact with it, nothing will be easier to use than iTunes.

Posted by: eric | May 17, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

The whole DRM system would be less loathsome if it were not so draconian. When I purchase a protected song using my laptop, let me move it (move, not copy) to my desktop computer for archival. Let me convert the format. I've licensed the music for my use, so let me use it the way that I want to. Otherwise, get rid of the whole shebang.

Posted by: David | May 17, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I will NOT pay for any music. I will continue to steal it like I have for the past 6 years. Aye Matey....I have over 12,600 songs in my digital pirate's chest. ARRRRRG!

Posted by: PirateBillyBob | May 17, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Concerning the higher-quality files, what you use to listen to them plays a larger role in noticing the difference. If we're comparing a set of PC speakers or headphones to a BOSE system or professional car audio, then you'll notice things in higher-quality songs that you otherwise wouldn't. Additionally, you may notice things in lower-quality songs that you didn't notice before (usually bad things).

Posted by: reno | May 17, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

If this EMI "experiment" makes them money, other labels will quickly follow. If it fails to make them money they'll drop it fast and maybe never try again. I'll sign up simply to encourage this even though I prefer CD quality.

Posted by: speederaser | May 17, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

After migrating from Record to 8 Track, 8 Track to Cassette, and Cassette to CD. I don't think the media industry has a leg to stand on. I've paid for each song 4 times already. And that's not counting the music purchased again do to devices damaging the media. Ditto for the Movies also.

Posted by: Paul | May 17, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if any of these site sell, or plan to sell, .flac tracks? While it is less important for some genres, there is a great deal of music which clearly shows a difference in quality between the basic MP3s (even at 192kbps) and the .flacs. Classical music, or anything which involves complex mixtures of insturments, voice and ambiant sounds, is in my opinion drastically cheapened in a compressed format, and therefore there is a great deal of music that I would never consider purchasing from a download site for that reason. Long live the pirates, and long stand their ideals!

Posted by: Al | May 17, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Sounds great to me.. if there happen to be any albums that arent available on the best sharing sites, now we can purchase them and share them out to infinity!

Posted by: Robert | May 17, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

1) Quality: as married and father of 1, I have no time anymore for critical listening. Apple's AAC & 160 kbps+ MP3s are fine for the car and family time at home.

2) Price: I purchase my indie mp3s for $1.50-$2.00 a song. At that price, the stores I use still sell albums for about $10. That's completely fair. I'd probably spring extra money for mp3 rather than AAC just because it's so ubiquitous.

3) I never balked at DRM. It's not part of my religion that DRM==bad. If those are the conditions under which a music company wants to release their music, that's fine. I'll weigh my purchase against the restrictions.

Posted by: G man | May 17, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

DRM restrictions is the big reason I haven't used iTunes or any other conventional service. iTunes has probably gained a customer.

Posted by: A. L. Flanagan | May 17, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

MOST people can't tell the difference between the higher quality tracks and the lower quality tracks not because they have a less sophisticated ear but because of the vehicle for playback. No set of ear buds or headphones will ever faithfully reproduce the subtle nuances that a high-end surround sound system with high range speakers can. So, although some people prefer the higher bit-rates and even the option to choose the bit-rates for themselves, a more practical approach would be to keep the bit-rate the same (128Khz), unencumber it completely, and still offer it at a low price point.

Posted by: Joe | May 17, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

When you're listening to an iPod through an FM transmitter in a noisy car, the fidelity limitations of the compression format aren't really an issue; but I'd like the higher quality for the rare occasions that it matters.

Anti-socials like PirateBillyBob will always be a fringe element of no import, and if the music producers can break their obsession over them and concentrate on convenience for the rest of us, then we'll all win.

Posted by: Ted Mooney | May 17, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

But it's all talk!

There are NO $1.29 DRM-free high-quality songs available at the iTune store (promised "for May") and there are NO .mp3's available for purchase at Amazon.

What's the holdup? HOW HARD CAN IT BE? And why is the press spewing gushers of ink about it and not mentioning the little detail that these items, so far, only exist in press releases?

Posted by: dpbsmith | May 17, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Let's face facts, the old way (industry labels) is just about dead. I have not paid for music in a while, and where I hang around you cannot post music at only 128 kbps. I will pay for music when I know the money goes to the artists and not to some head of studio
billionaire, he has nothing to do with the music. The great thing about the internet is we are about to cut the middleman out.

Posted by: Ludditte | May 17, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the average consumer (not us techies) doesn't care whether it's DRM'ed or not.

@Joe: I agree with you that most people listen to music by means of a low fidelity method, rendering bitrates meaningless for a lot of people. However, MY headphones certainly DO "faithfully reproduce the subtle nuances" of my music. Careful whose headphones you call to task....

Posted by: Pat | May 17, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The whole problem with DRM is that you're on a digital leash, and I think that approach is the reason why CD sales still haven't died off in favor of digital music. Why would you honestly pay for a crippled version of a track if you can get one for free that doesn't care what device it gets loaded on to and doesn't expire after being loaded on X number of computers?

I can understand the concern of record companies, which is that unrestricted material is easier to pirate, but the whole reason piracy goes on is because people get more freedom that way. The more you restrict people, the more they'll rebel against it. So by opening music up, there is that potential for piracy, but I think that the number of legit copies out there will far outnumber the ripoffs.

To be brutally honest, I'm all for the dissolve of music labels entirely. In the digital age, music labels are not necessary. A band can record, produce, distribute and advertise on a computer in their basement, simply by uploading that material to a distributor (iTunes for example). Cutting the label out increases the earnings of the artist, and makes the lives of the distributor easier.

My two cents.

Posted by: Drew | May 17, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought there might be some interest in this topic :)

One factual point: Eric wrote that Apple "doesn't allow other programs to interact with" the iPod, but that's not the case in general. Yahoo's Music Jukebox, for example, says it supports transferring MP3s to an iPod right in its help file, and many other programs can also copy music to or from an iPod.

(Apple did, however, make a fuss when RealNetworks wrote software that basically tapped into Apple's "FairPlay" DRM.)

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | May 17, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The entire music downloading is a bunch of crap! I borrow a buddies CD & make an identical copy...sounds the same with NO quality loss whatsoever - but I can't share music with friends on-line through P2P networks? BS, I'll share all I want and I'll get all the music I want in the format I want and without DRM just as I want and I won't be paying a penny to do it either.
I never have and I never will subscribe to a download service! I'll either get my downloads free or borrow the CD from a friend and make a copy or go to the public library and check out a CD, take it home and make a copy and then return it to the library or worst case scenario...I'll buy the CD!
RIAA can bite me!

Posted by: luvwknd | May 17, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The entire music downloading is a bunch of crap! I borrow a buddies CD & make an identical copy...sounds the same with NO quality loss whatsoever - but I can't share music with friends on-line through P2P networks? BS, I'll share all I want and I'll get all the music I want in the format I want and without DRM just as I want and I won't be paying a penny to do it either.
I never have and I never will subscribe to a download service! I'll either get my downloads free or borrow the CD from a friend and make a copy or go to the public library and check out a CD, take it home and make a copy and then return it to the library or worst case scenario...I'll buy the CD!
RIAA can bite me!

Posted by: luvwknd | May 17, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm particularly irked by the fact that an iTunes "purchase" is really a "lease". If I want to burn those tunes to a CD & play them on the MP3 player in my car ... I can't!

Whats up? Apple engineers couldn't figure out a way to let buyers burn "play-only" MP3 versions of the music they've purchased?

I'd like to know what Apple plans to do upon the demise of DRM. Is this just a philosophical argument by Jobs or will Apple unlock AAC for prior purchases of iTunes?

Posted by: hackerCat | May 17, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The one thing that is stopping the stampede into downloads is the lack of a convenient, secure, universal system of making small payments on the Net. The first major player to crack that will clean up.
Systems such as Paypal are a good start but what's necessary is a system that makes it possible to pay, say, 10 cents online, without losing all your 10 cents to commission charges.
Once that's in place, then music prices can drop to the point where it will be cheap enough to buy, and therefore (hopefully) pay artists without - as now - ripping them off instead by using free download services such as Bit Torrent.

Posted by: Clive Warner | May 17, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

What will happen when there is no longer a way for artists to protect themselves rom piracy and the INDUSTRY of music is no more. Is this a new paradigm ? A shift ? A Shaft? to the american business industry that really can't afford it? All the communist tha want free this free that will one day regret it. let's let this industry go away as we did everything else. So sad. We should buy it and use it as we wish even if we buy it and share it with the world its ok...Cause who cares if the manufacturer can stay in business that way. Short sighted and Stupid. I'm wit stupid cause Im greedy and selfish and it's all about ME.

Posted by: i'm wit stupid..Uz Guyz | May 17, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I have been waiting to buy high quality downloadable music. It's well worth the extra .28 per song to me.

Posted by: Greg C. | May 17, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I think DRM will survive for the subscription services. I willingly pay $14 a month to Rhapsody for unlimited access (for my PCs and MP3 player) to millions of tracks. If I had to buy every track that I download or put on my portable, I'd be broke!

I also like the subscription service for its portability and storage capacity. I can't travel the country with my entire CD or purchased MP3 collection, but I can play anything from Rhapsody's library on my laptop in my hotel room, refreshing my MP3 player at will.

Posted by: Zen R | May 17, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

I like the hood welded shut analogy mentioned above:-) I think of DRM music as a book case that slams shut every time my wife takes a book out and leaves the house to read it. My wife and I both have an i-Pod. But I never load new music on mine because I will have to set up a new profile on my computer to keep our music separated. And my wife can't add music to hers because I deauthorized the thing and don't want to spend 10 hours wiping out my hard drive to start over (the only way I can think of to make it work again)--and music companies think I'm going to take the time to figure out how to send a torrent of music to all my friends and relatives to save them $50???. Please!!! At 34 I'm about as likely to steal music as I am to sneak in the back door of a movie theater or do a beer run. I should point out that I am tech savvy enough that I read all my daily news online, I can do almost anything in MS Office short of programming, I am now saving all of my personal docs and spreadsheets on Google, and my next computer will probably be a dual boot Linux/Windows machine.

Posted by: Jonathan | May 17, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

ITunes and its RIAA backed possy are keeping part of the model in place and taking a wrecking ball to the other part. The right answer is to TAKE A WRECKING BALL to the whole damn structure - trash it like Hiroshima and COMPLETELY start over. The labels are criminals who break the law ( for about 30 years they had "indy" promoters pay off radio to play their music - CAN YOU SAY FELONY?) and what they pay the bands % wise for each digital track sold is criminal. THE BANDS DO OF ALL THE IMPORTANT WORK, they should be paid AT LEAST half, more than half would be fairer, of each song sold. They sadly, however, get about (average) 10% to 15% per song. Heinous. As I said the entire mess needs to start from scratch and this won't change what is happening quickly: THE MODERN DAY RECORD BUSINESS IS GOING BY THE WAY OF THE STEGASAURUS.

Posted by: Antpuddles | May 18, 2007 12:51 AM | Report abuse

I rarely if ever by a CD and any I have have long been copied onto my computer (and the originals dumped, they take up to much space).

However I would happly buy music online as long as it was DRM free or the DRM was easly bypassed. Otherwhise the music is unusable. Also I get annoyed having to fill my PC up with 3 or 4 different music players just to play my music. I would be like having to have different web browser installed for each web site.

The other reason I hate DRM is that I can't back my music up properly. If something were to happen to my computer or I were to change it, I could loose access to tracks I purchesed depending on how the DRM is done.

So the choice the music industry has, is to sell me music in a usable online form or don't sell anything at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 18, 2007 6:15 AM | Report abuse

DRM is the reason I've stuck with ripping CDs thus far. I'd no sooner buy a song with DRM than I would a CD that can only play in one brand of stereo.

Posted by: aaron | May 18, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

A few comments:
DRM is easy enough to get around so it does very little to stop piracy. (i.e. if you're tech savvy enough to set up a p2p network you won't be stopped by DRM.)

While the average user probably doesn't know what DRM is or give a rat's patooty about it, they do care that music they currently buy from iTunes only plays in iTunes and on iPods (and only on certain ones at that), and will be pleased if that changes.

I've been managing DRM free music on my iPod with Amarok (Linux /KDE music player)quite easily for a while and it doesn't care which computer I plug it into.

With 3 kids under 4 running/crawling around the house these days I don't have time to rip CDs let alone Burn then rip stuff from iTunes so this is a welcome change. Buying from Amazon will also hopefully negate the need to fire up the Windows partition. I'll definitely be expanding our music collection once this comes online.

Posted by: Norm | May 18, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

My 2cents...
1)Record labels are of the mindset that since CDs retail at $15-$20 each (or $1 per song), then the songs are worth $1 each to download... They must laugh at everyone. The actual "cost of delivery" of a CD to the record store is about $0.25... that includes scouting, recording, production, packaging, marketing, shipping... everything! Now try to do the math and figure their cost to deliver a digital copy. I, for one, won't be buying digital until they charge reasonably for it, and for me, that will be 5-10 cents per song. Too low? Well cut out the labels and pay it directly to the musicians. Ask one, they would jump at getting 10 cents per song.

2) The music won't die... just the one hit wonders. The real musicians will always rock-on and do live performances. Forbid the thought that they would have to continue to work and make a pay-cheque.

Anyway, I'm glad to see that there's signs that the cash-cow might be drying up. Big business sticks it to everyone far too much. Hey, how 'bout them gas prices?

Posted by: NeverHappy | May 18, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I pay enough to the music industry. I'll be shelling out over $1000 bucks to see my favorite bands this year. I just got an email today advertising preferred seating for Rush at $250 bucks per ticket. I'm hardly worried that the recording companies aren't getting their share. They can either make digital music cheap and convenient, or else people will steal it. Slapping college students with huge fines isn't the answer. Peer-to-peer networks are their competitors, so deal with it! I remember when CDs came out, the industry was reluctant to change to the new format. With MP3s, there's no production cost, no packaging cost, no warehousing cost, no transportation cost. Do the math.

Posted by: Ray | May 19, 2007 4:48 AM | Report abuse

Blah, make me pay for it within my monthly ISP bill. A monthly bandwidth plan(like cell phones) that covers my content downloading, telephony usage(Skype), Joost/YouTube enjoyment and pays the necessary people. Creates a fair market where everyone gets paid and those so called thieves won't be labeled such anymore!

Maybe we'll see this in ten years? First most likely see such with EVDO plans(Wireless Broadband thru cellphone providers)

Posted by: paul9290 | May 19, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Every format the music industry ever came out with was total rubbish, think vinyl, cassette and cd. The only format they didn't give us, mp3, is by far the best.

The industry has ripped off the consumer for years, most of the stuff I have downloaded has been to replace stuff I had legitimately purchased in the first place.

Storing my music on a hard drive makes a lot more sense and I know it will still be there in the future, as well as taking up considerably less shelf space.

DRM is an act of desperation by the industry to jump on the bandwagon and try to take over a business model they realized existed way too late in the game. The reason that people are more reluctant to buy is not due to piracy, it is because people are fed up with fake music and artists as well as having a long memory when it comes to being ripped off.

Posted by: Barry | May 20, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe that there are fools out there who pay a cent for music when it's all free on torrent sites and P2P networks. Still - if it makes you feel better...

Posted by: Stogie Bear | May 20, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

You people who think you have to "own" your music are living in the last paradigm. As someone stated above, even when you purchase files legitimately you are legally leasing them or purchasing a license. When the technology renders those files obsolete you will be compelled to purchase them again and again. I rent unlimited access at any point on the planet to 3mm+ tracks at 192kps from Napster available on 3 desktops and 3 portable players for $14.95 per month and I like it. No more CDs to lug around, no concerns about changing technologies, no concerns about my kids being pirates. Get over it, the whole concept of needing to "own" something you listen to in order to enjoy it is misguided.

Posted by: wyly | May 20, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Music as a commodity? True it is indeed being viewed that way more and more these days, but totally absent from this discussion is the viewpoint of the artists - When music becomes free and easily tradeable, who will produce it? Music is art, and art does not come out of thin air.

Posted by: Paul | May 20, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Someone actually said "kudos to Apple"? Yea thanks for trying like hell to lock your customers into one uncomfortable strait-jacket after another in your quest to become the new Microsoft. Way to spin your realization that you were going to have to open up the I-Pod to other music stores if you wanted to continue selling in Europe into becoming the self-appointed crusader against DRM. Too bad at the same time you were forcing artists and labels who didn't want to use DRM to do so in order to sell their stuff on I-Tunes. Scum.

As for how I'm going to get music, it's not going to change. I buy CDs and burn copies of friend's CDs. I demand uncompressed hard copies and CDs deliver.

Posted by: Robert | May 25, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I was quick to see DRM reduce both film and sound qualities to a sub standard level.
I also realised that all reproduced copy of film,music,books,art,pictures and any written copy can be DRM protected.This would ensure that free reading in education or book shops or any source could be rationed by the DRM owners.
I find DRM very scary in 2007 as information will be costly or denied to the poor.

Posted by: hunky | June 10, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I paid for and downloaded a DRM track and saved to hard drive.
I had the experience to know it would be unplayable in a few days,so sent the track into cyberspace on email.
Sure enough my PC will not play the track saved after 3 days and will not recognize it.
However,as said being 1 step ahead now I lost my track into cyberspace which keeps it safe.

Posted by: hunky | June 11, 2007 4:11 AM | Report abuse

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