Music studios: Love Amazon, hate Apple

Music studios: Love Amazon, hate Apple

Summary: It's interesting to read the announcement that Warner Music Group has become the next major studio to offer its complete catalog DRM-free through Amazon's new music download store. With only Sony BMG left still embracing DRM, this is shows clearly how music executive have grown to hate Apple more than they do customers.

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It's interesting to read the announcement that Warner Music Group has become the next major studio to offer its complete catalog DRM-free through Amazon's new music download store.  With only Sony BMG left still embracing DRM, this is shows clearly how music executive have grown to hate Apple more than they do customers. 

Let's be clear here, DRM had little or nothing to do with preventing piracy, its purpose was to take away the fair rights that we had grown accustom to when buying a CD and sell those rights back to us.  DRM never has and never will stop piracy - as DRM becomes more sophisticated, so do the hackers.

But it is interesting to watch the big names flock to Amazon's MP3 store.  It's what music executives, tired of being arm-locked by Steve Jobs, have been waiting for all these years.  Because Amazon's store provides audio in DRM-free MP3 files, they'll work on any platform and any media player, which means an even playing field, instead of one sloped in the direction of iTunes and Apple. 

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While I can't see this having an effect on iPod sales, a decline in iTunes sales could ding Apple's profits, which in turn might mean that it has to get with the 21st century and throw away the digital shackles and compete openly.  I'm not sure how easy a company that has operated from inside a comfortable bubble of an engineered iPod/iTunes ecosystem would find that transition to make.  DRM-free MP3s don't fit in well with the idea of locking you into the iPod for life.

I for one welcome the slow downfall of our digital overlord.

[UPDATE: Some have taken this post as a slam of Apple - it's not.  However, Apple/Steve Jobs have in recent months claimed to be anti-DRM but not managed to offer a complete DRM-free catalog and have blamed the music industry for this.  However, Amazon's MP3 store shows that the music industry is obviously interested in offering DRM-free music ... so why not through iTunes?]

Topics: Hardware, Amazon, Apple, Mobility, Security

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  • The game has only started

    There is a myth of iTunes/iPod locking you into a DRM nightmare.

    But for your info, you can "un-DRM" all the music you get from the iTunes
    store: just burn them on a CD. Similarly, iTunes/iPod can accept all your
    music from external sources, like your CDs etc.

    The fact that Apple has been milking the cow while other were busy
    finding ways to make it _difficult_ for users to buy music and play it on
    they systems has nothing to do with DRM. In fact, Apple was one of the
    first to propose non-DRM music.

    The fact that there will be more players in the field, including other ways to
    distribute music (independent labels, RadioHead-like patters etc) is likely
    to make for a very interesting game. But things have only started and it is
    unlikely that Majors are going to put all their eggs in the Amazon basket.
    They are not _that_ dumb. Or are they ?
    JChH
    • Realistically ...

      "But for your info, you can "un-DRM" all the music you get from the iTunes store: just burn them on a CD. Similarly, iTunes/iPod can accept all your music from external sources, like your CDs etc."
      Realistically, how big does your iTunes library have to be before this becomes a major pain?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Put it this way

        With only about 3% of DRM music on most iPod users iPod, it's hardly a major pain. The market is moving to DRM-Free music so I don't think most will get to discover this mythical pain we keep hearing about of having a complete library of DRM music to burn.
        dave95.
      • Um...waaaay less than the alternative!!

        I have a whole buncha WMA files that the licenses are messed up for...I finally got it so they could play again, on *that* PC...but they will not transfer to my MP3 player. :( Thanks, M$. Yeah, I could go use some downloaded crack-ware from the web...but do I trust that stuff? Nothing like running code from a cracker to make ya feel like ur owned. Meanwhile, my music got owned by M$. And I have since switched to iTunes, and the little trouble to burn to CD and then have MP3s is *well* worth it!!
        Techboy_z
      • Adrian...

        Please define what you mean by a major pain ????
        mrOSX
      • Very big

        Seeing as iTunes will automate both the burning process (over multiple discs) and
        the re-importing process (over multiple discs) then you would have to have a
        massive collection for it to become a "major pain". It only takes one click to initiate
        the process - after that, it's just inserting discs (which could be further automated by
        a robot).
        dangitman
  • RE: Music studios: Love Amazon, hate Apple

    Since win does Apple not support DRM-free music (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/)?

    Apple is at the mercy of the studios, not vice-versa.
    dysfnctnl85
    • Then ...

      ... how has Amazon managed to strike DRM-free deals?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Maybe you should investigate...

        Because facts in this blog post are absent. If Apple supports DRM-free music (I posted the link to Jobs's open letter in my previous post), and music executives also support DRM-free music, maybe there's something else going on here. That would make for a much more insightful article than confusing DRM vs DRM-free music purchases and how they relate to Apple.
        dysfnctnl85
        • Too right

          I thought the point of "the press" was to get the Who, What, Where, When, and How??
          pecosbill
      • Well ......

        I assume that the Amazon deal was created well after Apple and iTunes became such
        a big HIT correct? So would it not surprise anyone that in an attempt to take Apple
        down the music studios might make better deals with the likes of Amazon?

        Pagan jim
        Laff
      • Because the music studios want to cut down Apple's power

        Because the music studios want to reduce the power of Apple/iTunes, so they
        strike deals with Amazon and offer bad DRM-free deals to iTunes.
        jayk_z
  • It's not Apples Choice....

    It is the record labels choice, since they are the owners of the content.
    mrOSX
    • Then ...

      ... how come Amazon could strike DRM-free deals when Apple couldn't?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • You answered your own question

        You wrote the answer in your article...the music industry HATES Apple. They don't
        want iTunes to have even an equal playing field. Hell, they're still trying to sell the
        virtues of subscription-based music over a-la-carte. Let's not forget that it was
        Steve Jobs open letter in early February that even got the "no more DRM" train
        started.

        Any why do the music moguls hate Apple? Because Apple was steadfast in insisting
        on set prices for all songs at .99?. Bottom line is the fat cats want to control the
        price. Keep your mind straight on this issue...the record companies will soon
        enough pressure Amazon and their Faust-like deal to raise prices and force album
        bundles.

        /
        pairof9s
        • not quite

          Job's open letter against DRM was not what got the "No more DRM" train started, he just wrote it to look that way... knowing full well those in the RDF would claim "another first" for Apple.

          It'd be like Henry Ford coming out today and announcing that Hybrid cars are going to be coming out.

          The lesson is, take anything Jobs says with a huge grain of salt.
          rtk
          • I would say just to be safe take what everyone says

            including you with a huge grain of salt. Now while I don't think Job's open letter
            started the anti DRM movement I do think that previous to the letter Job's had made
            recorded statements against the viability of DRM in other words it would eventually
            fail and sooner rather than later. Now does any of this his statements and later letter
            tell us the whole truth or even the truth at all as too what Job's thinks or feels about
            DRM? I can't say for certain one way or the other, but then again neither can you.

            Pagan jim
            Laff
          • Rolling Stone interview he said DRM wont work

            And that was 2003 -

            http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939600/steve_jobs_the_rolling_stone_interview

            [i]"Because of their technological innocence, I would say. When we first went to talk to these record companies -- you know, it was a while ago. It took us 18 months. And at first we said: None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.'s here, that know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content."[/i]
            dave95.
          • Then what did?

            Mere weak analogies does not present a good argument as to who or what started
            the anti-DRM movement nor in any way refutes the Jobs claim.

            I do know that Apple with EMI was the first to offer DRM-free songs as alternatives
            to commercially sold DRM music...not pirated, not eMusic rare catalogs, but songs
            previously sold w/ DRM. To me, that constitutes a start.

            So where do you see the anti-DRM starting?!

            /
            pairof9s
          • Just happeded in 2003

            I guess he just happened to let the record labels know back in 2003 that DRM won't work also. Same way he just happened to write that letter in 2007 against DRM. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939600/steve_jobs_the_rolling_stone_interview

            Listen we are all guessing here about the true feeling he may have about DRM, but at least with his words come action. Lets not forget the record labels are the ones in control of how Apple and others distribute the content (hence the whole implementation of DRM)
            dave95.