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London Calling

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

As noted, the EMI Apple press conference was not a command performance of “Revolution No. 9.” Instead, EMI was the first domino to fall in Steve Jobs’ proposed elimination of DRM from the iTunes store. That’s good, very good. But as I wrote in this column I posted today on Newsweek.com, I find it weird that the songs in the new format, which are DRM free and have much improved sound quality, cost 30 cents more. I can understand if the price increase were attributed solely to the upgrade in sonic capacity. (In fact, I wrote a blog posting here hoping that when labels sold songs at higher quality, that people had the option to upgrade instead of having to pay from scratch.) What bugs me is that Apple and EMI both seem to believe that dropping DRM is a feature that people should pay more for. To me, giving up on DRM means removing it from all versions of one’s product. Once you conclude it doesn’t stop piracy, it’s pointless. So why not get rid of it altogether on EMI songs (and others who chose to follow) and then have two versions: a high and low sound quality?

Ultimately, I think that prices should go down in general, and that if this effort is a Trojan horse to get the price past 99 cents, it’s ill considered. The competition, after all, is the free filesharing services (and music from friends, etc.) that still proliferate.

1 Comment

  • Ummm, Steven, how about the incentive of labels making more profit per song sale if they drop the DRM? If the DRM-free songs were the same price as DRM’d songs, the other 3 labels could probably hold out indefinitely. But when one of the majors is suddenly making a lot more money in the digital arena, don’t you think that will cause the others to drop their principles for the one that that really motivates them, i.e. bigger profits?

    You are overanalyzing here. The $1.29 is nothing but a shimmering lure to get the other labels to jump on the bandwagon. They can either stand by their bombastic principles regarding DRM and pass on the profits or join in the new digital gold rush lest they cede the market to EMI.

    Once all the labels are on board, the consumer ultimately wins. Don’t trip over your own toes by trying to stare at your nose.

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