Written by Internet

EMI DRM Free

There’s plenty of coverage elsewhere about the whys and wherefores of EMI going DRM-free, with Apple iTunes the first partner. But I will make a couple of comments.
It is brave of EMI, but necessary. By holding out longer, you’re just going to piss your customers off, and when you’re having as turbulent a time as EMI has been recently, that’s simply something you can’t afford to do.
I know that all of a sudden, I’m much likelier to buy downloads. I still love CDs and any artist or album I truly want, I’ll buy the CD version, but knowing that I “own” it and don’t just licence it is very important to me.
Some people have commented on the limited range of hardware outside of the iPod range capable of playing even unencrypted AAC encoded music. Well there are couple of things to point out here. First, iTunes is simply the first vendor to open up the EMI range fully – others will be along very shortly, and for the first time, they’re going to be able to properly supply music to iPod owners – by far the largest hardware market share. While I don’t suppose we’ll exactly see a price-war, the playing field will certainly be flattened. I’d also hope that some of the major record labels will start talking to vendors like eMusic about being included on their services. Secondly, who doesn’t think that every major hardware manufacturer is going to be racing to ensure that their mp3 player or mobile phone is capable of playing AAC encoded tracks? There’ll be firmware updates for legacy kit, and since the lifecycle of mobile phones is somewhere around 12 months before consumers seek a replacement, we’ll see widespread compatability within a very short time-frame.
Apple really don’t have much to worry about – as long as they keep producing the smartest and coolest devices, then they’re going to be making their money from hardware rather than software.
The Independent’s piece today is headlined “EMI concedes defeat in war on internet pirates” and I’ve just got to say that this is wholly and totally missing the point. The piece itself is quite level-headed, but removing DRM is not giving in to piracy – it’s taking on piracy. Previously, if I’d bought an album on iTunes and then bought a non-Apple replacement mp3 player, or perhaps installed an mp3CD-capable car radio, I’d have been forced to either go through the ridiculous process of burning and then re-ripping the audio, or just head into the nether-regions of the internet and download a version someone else has made. Now I don’t have to go through that ridiculous process – well not once the hardware out there all supports AAC, but as I’ve already mentioned, that won’t be very long.
Isn’t it nice to actually write something nice about the music industry for a change?