Feeds

Free music has never looked so cheap

DRM's gone. Now the problems begin...

Top three mobile application threats

The rise of digital, and the popularity of buyers cherry-picking hits in preference to buying CDs, have made this cost-heavy model unsustainable. The independents can at least look to the future knowing they don't have huge expenses to cover: they can cut their cloth accordingly. Indies also embraced digital quicker because it gave them what they always struggled to get in the physical marketplace - a more level playing field. Distribution has always been the smaller labels' greatest problem.

If the future doesn't have a place for big record labels as they look today, it will have a place for something that looks like them, because the demand is there. Some artists will always get greedy and demand global marketing operations that make them as ubiquitous as the large brand advertisers, such as Nike, Nokia, and Pepsi. They need to remind us they're there, constantly. But most businesses will balk at such demands.

Both indies and majors can continue to provide good value CDs - top quality audio digital music that comes with its own backup copy - and if they package them well, charge a premium for the packaging. If I find a common flaw in both camps' thinking, it's the unjustified fear that physical sales will fall off a cliff.

However, the abundance of free illicit music creates a much deeper discomfort for majors and indies alike.

Digital evangelists hope the absence of friction, such as DRM, will make computer networks more attractive. Isn't a DRM-free world what The Register has been banging on about for years?

Well, yes, but it isn't clear that digital downloads will rise as a consequence. The like-for-like comparison means that if you choose to pay Apple for 10 DRM-free songs it'll cost you almost $20, while you'll get no artwork or backup copy. The digital maven now looks less of a pioneer, and more of a fool. By removing the ludicrous, artificial countermeasure of DRM it's now plain that individual unit sales of songs and even albums aren't sustainable for anyone in the digital world, except as publicity vehicles or loss leaders. For us, it makes no more sense buying digital music by the unit than it does dropping a 10p piece every few minutes into the radio set.

Do we cease to pay artists completely, or do we move to a model where music is a service? Thanks to EMI and Apple, that choice is a lot clearer today. ®

Bootnote: It hasn't escaped our notice that former EMI chief Alain Levy has finally got his way. Levy was ousted in the new year, but his call for an end to one-price, 99c downloads has at last been fulfilled...

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.