Monday, September 3, 2007

Music Subscriptions, DRM, and iPods

Music Subscriptions, DRM, and iPods: Music producer and would-be savior of the record industry Rick Rubin, in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine:

Quoted already in my earlier post on this topic.
[...] But here’s the problem with subscription-based music: you can’t have it without DRM. Because without DRM, what’s to stop someone from subscribing for one month, downloading every song they might ever want, then unsubscribing but keeping the music? And the thing with DRM is that people hate it, because it restricts what they can do and where they can play their music. To argue that subscriptions are the future of music is to argue that DRM is the future of music, and the evidence points to the contrary. (Via Daring Fireball.)

Exactly. It's not only wasteful and impractical as I noted before, it's also anti-user.


Unknown said...

Maybe it's naive of me, but I can see this being done without DRM. Then the onus is on the music industry to keep coming out with enough new music that people are willing to pay $20/month for it. New content is part of what keeps people paying their ridiculous cable subscription bills even though they could just TiVo a month's worth of content and have enough TV to last them for the next few months (if not the next year). People already have illegal access to essentially all the music in existence, but that hasn't kept them from downloading new things. (Admittedly there's no price pressure on them to do so.) Personally, I doubt that I already know all the music I want to listen to for the rest of my life.

I can see this is an argument for selling subscriptions by the year rather than by the month, though, and making the first year slightly more expensive than renewals. It's also an argument for capping the number of downloads in such a subscription (for example, to the amount of music you could listen to if you were listening to it 24/7, or some similarly high amount).

Fernando Pereira said...

I agree that subscription might work well without DRM if there was always new music of interest, of if the backlist was so huge that it would be practically impossible for anybody to download everything they'd ever want to listen to and then leave. People's tastes change, and what I didn't know about today will be my favorite tomorrow. I think that eMusic has basically that model, and they are chugging along. But the majors have been too paranoid until now to accept such DRM-free models.