Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Music Bullets, 4-4-07

  • The RIAA is now going after people downloading intentionally-leaked Nine Inch Nails tracks. Just when you thought they couldn’t be more out of touch…(via RS)
  • Pearl Jam is headlining Lollapalooza! Maybe I should go back this year after all...
  • Really, Wilco? The closest you're coming to mid-Misouri is Davenport, Iowa? Remember your roots!
  • So three fantastic music venues--Philly's TLA, NYC's Irving Plaza, and Detroit's State Theatre--are all being renamed The Fillmore? Not sure what I think about that. least they're not being renamed Verizon Wireless Mid-Sized Theatre or something. Small blessings.
  • And finally, Newsweek tackles the "EMI drops DRM" development.
  • Let me explain why this is important. In negotiating licenses for Apple’s iTunes store, which debuted four years ago, Jobs had to overcome music executives’ outright paranoia about selling their product over the Internet. Until iTunes launched, the labels had only considered selling songs bound in digital files with Draconian rules for backing up songs, burning disks and moving songs to other devices. Jobs convinced them it was in their interest to liberalize the rules so that, for the first time, customers would have a good experience buying music online. Jobs also got the labels to sign off on the idea of selling songs for 99 cents a track, liberating customers from the necessity of buying a whole album when they only wanted one or two songs. (These rules became the standard for all retail outlets selling music online.) But as the years passed, and people bought billions of songs online, even those relatively relaxed rules began to feel restrictive. One particular sticking point: if you bought songs from the iTunes store, they couldn’t be played directly on devices other than the iPod. Another: songs purchased from online emporiums like Rhapsody or Zune Marketplace couldn’t be played directly on iTunes or the iPod. Apple drew fire for this lack of interoperability; in response, Jobs suggested that the music industry drop DRM altogether, arguing that it really didn’t stop piracy (CDs, which greatly outsell online versions of songs are unprotected and can easily be ripped into digital files and distributed on the Internet), and law-abiding customers would appreciate the freedom to use their music more flexibly.

    EMI’s move is a huge step towards Jobs’s vision of a music world without DRM. “We’ve been analyzing whether to move off DRM for months now,” says EMI’s top digital exec Barney Wragg . After customer surveys and experiments released unprotected files by artists like Norah Jones, “We’ve concluded this was the right thing to do,” Wragg said. It certainly is. Jobs is correct in saying that DRM doesn’t stop piracy--instead, it gives music fans an incentive to engage in more piracy, since songs illegally snapped up on the Internet have no DRM, and are thus more flexible than legally purchased songs. Jobs says that he’s soliciting other major labels to follow EMI’s lead (many independent labels have been clamoring to do this for some time) and he expects over half the songs on iTunes to be available on the new format by the end of the year.