Last night I had an interesting conversation with my wife. She asked if I had purchased a few albums we’d previously discussed recently. I mentioned that I had downloaded a bunch of things to my Zune (love that subscription!), but realized while saying this that there was no way for me to share these albums with her since she’s on a Mac with iTunes and an iPhone. She wanted to hear the stuff in the house and we use an AppleTV to stream … strike 2. She suggested just buying them on iTunes, which I really prefer not to do even though the instant gratification is certainly nice. I prefer to rip my music at a higher rate and want to be sure things will also work on my Zune or on my Nokia phones … I could always break out my iPod or iPhone, but that’s yet another device to carry just for those songs.
When I suggested we just get the CDs my wife looked at me like that was a crazy idea. Why would we do that she wondered? A CD would of course allow me to rip the tracks into a nice DRM-free format to be shared on any device and effectivelly freeing the music to be heard however we desired. Regardless this seemed all too retro given the tech within reach.
This week I’ve been playing with the Nokia Music platform a bit. This uses another DRM method which while also from Microsoft (like the Zune) will not work with the Zune. I think it will work on a PC through windows media player but we are a Mac household. I’m hesitant to purchase anything that will only create yet another island to hear just those tracks.
This is ridiculous. It’s no wonder illegal downloads occur in such high numbers and sales continue to drop. The music industry has gone out its way to de-standardize the standard of actually listening.
While MP3s do not typically carry DRM, they can be watermarked which is the method Amazon employs. Amazon also charge a lower rate than the other guys and will likely only grow as more people become aware that the music they purchase will only work in a single place.
There’s absolutely no way to purchase digital music effectively and know that you can share (as in fair use) as you might have done previously through a mixed tape or even a burned CD. Now you are effectively choosing to buy a CD Player and the CDs from Apple, Microsoft, or Rhapsody. If your friend or family does not also have the same player, they can’t enjoy the music.
There’s a lot of rumbling in the industry about stores offering DRM free tracks en masse. I can’t wait for this day to come! It stands to revive the industry and free people to once again enjoy listening – the part that’s supposed to be both easy and enjoyable.
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