Monday, October 08, 2007

Once you buy non-DRMed music, you don't go back...

I've bought a bunch of songs on Amazon's new MP3 site in the past couple weeks. They load right up into Windows media. They play on my Xbox. I even loaded them up on an iPod i had lying around so I could listen to them in the car.

So today I went to Starbucks and there are stacks of free iTunes cards there. You can get some free track from iTunes by entering a code on the card. I looked at that and wondered... why? Why bother with free DRMed tracks that I have to use iTunes to listen to? I'd rather pay for these tracks to get them without DRM than get the for free with DRM.

Freedom to use the content you buy... what a concept! It's like we're back in the 1900s again. The music companies would have never gotten in this situation if they had just opened things up much earlier. Most people are honest (in the US, at least). I would have been buying MP3s online as early as 1996 if they had moved into this area earlier.

But let's bring up a major idiocy of the music business at the moment. Forget the RIAA tactics, suing little old ladies whose kids download some tracks and all of that... hasn't anyone in the music business ... anyone... heard of the long tail? Cripes. There are a ton of singles that I want to buy that are not available for downloading. And no I don't want vinyl. And no I don't want a collection of 12 lame songs on a CD to get the one good song. I just want the one song for $1.

Guys, just digitize that stuff! If it's a good song, the only way to make money is availability. Plus, you never know when someone will use it in a movie or something and make it into a huge hit again.

And by the way, how long do people predict it will take until movies are in the same boat as music is today? 5 years, 10 years? 20 years? Why are we still paying $15 for downloads of movies with DRM, for example? The biggest puzzler is, why do we pay to rent movies online? There's no rental, we're not borrowing anything. There's no video shop that paid $200 for a VHS tape to loan to people in the neighborhood. We are getting the exact same compressed audio and video that we would buy, except that a mechanism is in place that artifically allows us to only watch it once.

Yeah, that business won't last. Riddle me this: what if booksellers today tried to start renting books, or musicians tried renting their songs? You'd laugh in their face. The only reason it does well at all is because the movie business has brainwashed you by having movie theaters for 80 years that were the only source you could see these things. Then VHS rentals and DVDs continued the trend of "pay per view". How can the rental idea continue when there's no longer a difference in ownership?

One more thing... isn't it obvious that Apple has no intention of losing DRM because their entire video library is still DRMed? If Jobs was at all serious about losing DRM, he could sway at least Disney and ABC to do it on iTunes. He's Disney's largest shareholder and a member of the board, not to mention messiah of the iPod and iTunes. You don't think they'd listen to him?

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