In 2007, Amazon announced their music store. It would, they promised, deliver DRM-free music to U.S. Amazon users. And they did just that. With much fanfare, they rolled out Amazon MP3, touting music downloads for any device. On their website, they explain what's special about their music sales. "DRM-free means that the MP3 files you purchase from Amazon.com do not contain any software that will restrict your use of the file."
A few months back, AnywhereCD launched offering a new service, buy a physicals cd AND get the digital download immediately. Anywhere made deals with numerous record companies, including Warner. Shortly after launch, Warner cried foul. The lawsuits started flying.
Time Magazine ran an article last week about DRM. It gets alot right, and speaks in non geek terms:
Off the record, most executives--on the technology side at least--will tell you that DRM is a dinosaur that's waiting for the asteroid to hit. It's just a matter of when the music industry will stop assuming its customers are all criminals.
ArsTechnica reports that Amazon is poised to launch a digital download store selling MP3 tracks free of DRM. The Amazon store will feature EMI's catalog and may also offer Universal's classical catalog. The latter offering would be a huge development for DRM free digital downloads.
eMusic announced today that with300 thousand users it is the second largest digital music download service on the web. eMusic's success proves that you don't need DRM to do business. Unfortunately, eMusic only offers mp3 files, when they should be offering the unencumbered OGG format instead (check out why).
I just read about this new independent online music store, AmieStreet.com. Other than the fact that it is DRM free, the reason it is noteworthy is because Amie Street exhibits just the kind of innovation that will explode in a world without DRM. At Amie Street, songs change price (from free to 98 cents) based on how many times they have been downloaded. Artists get 70% of the revenues from their work after a flat fee for hosting and bandwidth.
Universal France is testing DRM free music sales: Universal has begun testing the viability of DRM-free downloads, albeit in a very limited release of an album by French singer-songwriter Emilie Simon.
While the test is limited, it is hopeful to see another of the big for looking at DRM free digital downloads.
I just read on Gizmodo that the NYT reports this morning that EMI is considering opening up "broad swaths" of its catalog for digital download through online retailers without DRM.
The EMI Group, the British music giant, has been considering a plan to offer a broad swath of its recordings for sale online without anti-copying software, executives involved in discussions with the company said.
In the days since Steve Jobs' open letter basically denouncing DRM and calling for its abolition, we have heard from many of you that Jobs unfairly distances himself from the DRM problem and solution, laying the blame at the feet of the big four music companies.
We wonder if he has forgotten that he is CEO of Pixar, part of the Disney Family. DRM is not just about music, increasingly it is movies and video that are protected by DRM, especially those selections purchased from iTMS.
Instead of laying the responsibility for DRM with the music companies and calling on their customers to influence them, Jobs should ask music fans to join him in directly lobbying the Big Four to drop DRM. He should be joining with Bill Gates and hosting a summit on the issue with Big Media.
Alot is happening in the digital music realm these last few week.s We've heard news that Microsoft is abandoning PlaysForSure DRM to focus exclusively on their Zune DRM. EMI, meanwhile, has abandoned DRM in all new CDs which is great news, and they are also starting to offer mp3s with no drm. Including music by Norah Jones on Yahoo
Last week some record labels started offering MP3s free of DRM (as reported by ArsTechnica, < ahref="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16081654/" target="new">MSNBS (from the AP) and also engadget and others.
EMI is selling some music on Yahoo Music for 99 cents without DRM. The release is limited in scope and is being billed as an experiment to test the waters of demand.
But we believe that the record lab
"many indie sites sell DRM-free MP3s, seeing DRM as an unnecessary inconvenience. Another option, adopted on System 7's site, is to give fans the choice; DRM versions of tracks, at 79p each, are cheaper than the 99p non-DRM MP3s, reflecting DRM's inherent inconvenience. However, Steve Hillage says they're now moving to MP3 only, because the MP3 files have been outselling the DRM ones by a ratio of 15 to one, despite the latter's cheaper price."
Folks probably saw and heard last week that Yahoo has started offering at least one DRM free song for sale on Yahoo Music.
Read one of the many articles on this development.
Yahoo is clearly trying our something new by selling a song at a premium without DRM, just a high quality mp3 download. We'll see if music fans are willing to page the extra price.