Music Industry Using DRM-Free MP3s To Monopolize Your Ears

Jan 14th, 2008 | By | Category: Digital Music, iPods & Portable Media Players

Puppet Musicians

For a long time, people have thought that getting the music industry to switch to DRM-free MP3s for music downloads would open the doors to a consumer-friendly world of digital music competition.

Now it’s starting to look like the music industry wil use DRM-free MP3s to enforce their traditional monopoly on what you hear, what you buy and where you buy it.

The New York Times reports that the mainstream music industry will be using the Super Bowl to undermine Apple’s dominance in the world of digital music. The labels have cut exclusive deals with Amazon to let the retailer not only offer all their music downloads as DRM-free MP3s, but at a better price than Apple.

In other words, they’re trying to use exclusive deals and monopolistic tactics to weaken Apple’s role in digital music so they control what you hear, where you hear it first and and where you buy it:

Behind this strategy is a growing desperation: sales of digital albums and songs are rising far too slowly to offset the rapid decline of the CD, the industry’s mainstay product. CD sales slid 19 percent last year; after adding in the 50 million digital albums sold last year and counting every 10 digital songs sold as an album, overall music sales were still down 9.5 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In trying to nurture Amazon’s service, the four major record companies have offered it one potential edge. One by one, they have agreed to offer their music catalogs for sale on the service in the MP3 format, without the digital locks that restrict users from making copies of the songs. (Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the second-biggest company and the last holdout, signed on last week. Sony BMG is a joint venture of Sony and Bertelsmann).

All of the companies except the EMI Group still require Apple to sell their music wrapped in digital rights management software, or D.R.M., which is intended to discourage rampant copying. Some consumers say D.R.M. creates confusing problems, like a lack of compatibility between most songs and the devices sold by Apple and Microsoft. In fact, it was Mr. Jobs who, in February, called on the industry to drop its longstanding insistence on the use of the software, saying it had failed to rein in piracy.

Increased competition in the digital music world is good, but we’d like to see everyone operating on a level playing field. As it stands now, the music industry is set to use DRM-free MP3s to remake the world of Internet music into a “2.0″ version of the old music industry – Big Four labels, RIAA, Wal-Mart and all.

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2 Responses to “Music Industry Using DRM-Free MP3s To Monopolize Your Ears”

  1. Jack Roken says:

    Good Point to level the playing field.

    Jack Roken

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