The idea that DRM-free music might just make good business sense smolders along, as eMusic is announcing they've managed to sell 100 million unprotected songs without the world coming to an end. As part of the promotion, the customer who purchased the milestone track will have a song written about him by the Barenaked Ladies, who'll include the song on as a bonus track for their upcoming album. The record labels have consistently claimed you can't be successful selling music that isn't copy-protected -- but eMusic's second place showing (behind iTunes) shows that's clearly not the case. They continue to sell more music than Rhapsody, Napster and MSN Music combined, all while catering to indie music fans by avoiding major label content. 2006 saw a growth in smaller content providers arguing that DRM-free content can be part of a sustainable business model, but there's still a shortage of major industry players acknowledging DRM's limitations. Meanwhile the major labels continue to pretend either that the idea has no legs -- or that they need to conduct further experiments to see if demand for DRM-free content actually exists. There simply can be no talk of a trend toward unprotected content en-masse as long as the music industry continues to pursue the idea in half-assed ways.Here's an idea. Why don't new bands sign with distributors like iTunes and the Microsoft market place instead of with traditional labels. Then charge $.25 for a DRM free song and give 90% of that to the artist and 10% to the distributor. I think $.25 is cheap enough that people will just buy it and not pirate the music. Everyone wins in this case. The artist gets much more than the 10% of $.99 songs, and its cheaper for the consumer.
Friday, December 15, 2006