Another Call for the Death of DRM

This time, coming from a Yahoo! exec (with a spine), Ian Rodgers.

If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, I’m not interested.  I won’t let Yahoo! invest any more money in consumer inconvenience. I will tell Yahoo! to give the money they were going to give me to build awesome media applications to Yahoo! Mail or Answers or some other deserving endeavor. I personally don’t have any more time to give and can’t bear to see any more money spent on pathetic attempts for control instead of building consumer value.

Ian highlights perhaps what is the most compelling force behind the proliferation of MP3s:

History tells us: convenience wins, hubris loses. “Who is going to want a shitty quality LP when these 78s sound so good? Who wants a hissy cassette when they have an awesome quadrophonic system? Who wants digitized music on discs now that we have Dolby on our cassettes? Who wants to listen to compressed audio on their computers?” ANSWER: EVERYONE. Convenience wins, hubris loses.

So, when will the industry finally get it?  Meanwhile, it may just be time to dump iTunes for Amazon’s DRM free offerings instead (by the way, I’m in love with Amazon Prime).

Check for additional commentary at TechCrunch.

The most puzzling aspect of this whole MP3 revolution has been why the industry has been slow to adopt and embrace it. 

For one, it reduces the physical limitations of distribution and shelf space.  No trucking of boxes of CDs, no need to hire a bunch of teenagers to stock your store shelves, no worries about running out of stock…it seems like it would be a media company’s dream come true. 

On a second point, as countless others have pointed out, CDs inherently contain no copy protection scheme in place.  In addition to this fact, the CD is typically a much higher quality source than most MP3s…why haven’t we seen the RIAA crack down on the likes of Sony, Teac, Maxell, and the various resellers and manufacturers of CD-R media? 

A third point to consider is that the media companies are absolutely silly in ignoring the potential marketing data that can be mined.  Embracing digital distribution, with the right agreements and systems in place, allows them to track and profile every paying customer!  Make a deal with Apple, Amazon, Yahoo!, other distributors and consumers: we’ll go DRM and lower prices, but you must provide aggregate data about the customers that we can slice and dice to repackage for marketing purposes. 

The irony is that the P2P paradigm that started the MP3 revolution that is driving the music and movie industry nuts is likely to also be the same paradigm that will allow them to thrive in the current world of digital distribution.

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