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February 24, 2006:
why the major record companies will offer mp3s in less than 18 months
originally written for musically uk

Today, I will go on the record and predict that finally, the pain will be big enough and at least one of the major record companies will cave in, during the next 9–18 months, and offer paid downloads in the MP3 format. In other words, the holy cow of copy protection will end up in the meat grinder. Why? Here are some of the reasons:

1. because drm is nothing but snake oil and fig leaves, and everyone knows it.

It’s pretending that total control over distribution remains actually possible. Do you know any company that has made any real money with selling DRM “solutions,” do you know any consumer that sees a benefit in DRM, and are there any halfway smart kids out there that do not yet know how to sidestep it? Is there other reason for Napster, Rhapsody, and YahooMusic to use DRM apart from needing to placate the (major) record companies and get those content contracts signed to begin with? Look around you: All DRM companies that have any real sense of reality are either exiting the business or becoming CRM (Customer Rights Management) companies, or they will cease to exist. DRM in its current form is the embodiment of “fear of change,” plain and simple. What we really need is smart software that empowers the consumer, and paves the digital highway for the age of super-distribution.

2. because emusic will kick their butts.

eMusic is becom- ing the major force in the marketplace for some very simple reasons: The music plays everywhere, the price is right, and the site is very easy to use – in other words: it just works! Imagine that.

3. pretty soon, either mp3 or apple’s itunes will own the marketplace.

That’s simply because right now, nothing gets off the ground that does not work with iPods (e.g., Napster et. al.). The Windows-DRM’ed files don’t work with many players. So which option is the least troublesome for the labels – going MP3 or playing second fiddle to Steve Jobs?

4. digital radio (satellite, hd, and online) will soon supply huge amounts of music, at a very low cost.

So many people who have still been buying CDs will start to accept and tolerate the lack of on-demand options on these services – again, because they are so convenient and they simply work.

75,000 different devices that play mp3 files approximately 75 devices that play drm’ed files