Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Media (Apple) Media Encryption Security Your Rights Online

Music Execs Think DRM Slows the Marketplace 224

Posted by kdawson
from the well-duh dept.
MacGod writes "From BBC News comes a story about a Jupiter Research survey conducted before Steve Jobs's anti-DRM essay, indicating that most music industry execs see DRM-free music as a way to expand sales on digital tracks. The survey covered large and small record labels, rights bodies, digital stores, and technology providers. To summarize: 54% of music execs think that current DRM is too restrictive and 62% think selling unencumbered music would be a way to boost sales. Even limiting the survey to the record labels themselves, 48% believe this. Yet, many also believe it's not going to happen without significant governmental intervention — even though most insiders think DRM is harmful, the labels are keen to stick with it. Is this yet another sign of the typical media industry 'head in the sand, refuse to change' approach, or might we be seeing the early stages or some actual change?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Music Execs Think DRM Slows the Marketplace

Comments Filter:
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:25AM (#18023962) Homepage Journal
    Please enter your authorisation code to view this comment.
    • by stormi (837687)
      "Is this yet another sign of the typical media industry 'head in the sand, refuse to change' approach, or might we be seeing the early stages or some actual change?" I think it's a little of both. They'd LIKE to keep their head in the sand, but change cannot be stopped. It's inevitable that eventually they won't be able to ignore the problem any longer.
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:02PM (#18025560) Homepage Journal
        I dunno what their problem is. People WILL always copy songs, and try to get them for free. They did it with vinyl and recording it to 8-track and cassette. Hell, my friends and I did as kids...we'd figure out that each one of us would buy 1-2 albums, each different, and then swap them to record them. That's they way it happens.

        However, now that I'm older...I got money to spend...plenty of discrecionary money. However, I have never bought a single song online. Have I downloaded any mp3's? Years ago when I first discovered them on USENET, sure I did a few...mostly bootless Zeppelin/Stones stuff I couldn't find anywhere else...but, for the most part I pretty much own all the CD's of music I like. I have a high end stereo, and I like to play the best version of a song that I can.

        If they would offer for sale online...lossless songs without DRM so that I could burn hardcopy backups, and my own lossy versions for my car or portable (no big deal with such a poor listening environment)...I'd be all over that. While I like a good deal and free stuff as much as the next person, I don't mind spending money for things I want. I think there are plenty of people out there just like me that they'd make plenty of money off of if they opened things up.

        I just don't want to buy music/video that is of lesser quality and hinders me from doing what I've done with it in the past when a copy I bought was mine to use, play and store as I wished.

        • by LKM (227954) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:24PM (#18025896) Homepage
          They don't have a problem. They simply see that with DRM, they can get the honest people to pay several times for the same song. The pirates won't buy their music either way, so I guess they figured they are simply going to get as much as they can from the honest guys. It's stupid, of course, but it probably makes sense for them.
          • I like to think that I'm mostly honest... That being said, how or why would I pay for the same song over and over? I buy it once, i can listen to it in iTunes, I can put it on my iPod, and I can include it on as many mix CD's as I'd like. And I've never seen a request pop up on my screen asking me if i'd like to pay again?
        • Your problem is that you're assuming that DRM has something to do with preventing piracy.

          That is a fallacy. It is something the music companies would like you to think, but it is not really true. DRM is about "maximizing revenue," principally by allowing the record companies to sell the same piece of music over and over, in different formats. Basically, is purpose is to eliminate format-shifting altogether, because that way they can charge independently for a song on CD, as a digital file for an iPod, as a digital file for a cellphone, as a ringtone, etc. etc.

          The music companies have realized that digitization basically means the end of formats that wear out over time, and it will also mean that it's pretty trivial to move your music from one type of playback device (e.g. iPod) to $NEXT_YEARS_DEVICE without them seeing a dime. Since their business model historically has derived a lot of revenue from the repurchasing of music in new formats (45s, 8-tracks, LPs, cassette tape, CD), they want to stop this, even though it's allowed by Fair Use as a simple format shift.

          DRM is only nominally about piracy; in truth, it's about squeezing more money from honest consumers.
          • Basically, is purpose is to eliminate format-shifting altogether, because that way they can charge independently for a song on CD, as a digital file for an iPod, as a digital file for a cellphone, as a ringtone, etc. etc.

            That's not particularly true. Since you can burn an iTunes song onto a CD or rip a CD into iTunes trivially, the record labels can't possibly be stupid enough to expect too many people to buy both. As a ringtone, which is big business, they rely primarily on the greed of the cellular carri

          • by dr.badass (25287) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:18PM (#18029922) Homepage
            Basically, is purpose is to eliminate format-shifting altogether

            If that's so, then why is it that most DRM systems allow format-shifting to DRM-free formats?

            Since their business model historically has derived a lot of revenue from the repurchasing of music in new formats (45s, 8-tracks, LPs, cassette tape, CD), they want to stop this

            Such shifts are too rare to be protected at great expense. The music industry does not live and die based on whether people purchase the same music every few decades -- it lives on lots of people buying different music every year. Consider that the largest group of music consumers today have probably never owned anything but CDs.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Bert64 (520050)
              itunes lets you burn to CD, but i don't think any other forms of drm allow you to do this...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189)
          I think you left out "at a reasonable price" but otherwise agree.

          If they were online, lossless without DRM but $2 bucks, a lot of folks are going to pirate them.
          If they were online, lossless without DRM at .25 cents, very few employed 1st world (and maybe 2nd world) citizens are going to pirate them.

          The fact is the value of the songs once they are over a couple years old is really the bandwidth and storage costs plus a reasonable markup.

          What's sick is that right now- today- they could be selling DVD's or US
  • Alvislujia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BecomingLumberg (949374) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:27AM (#18023982)
    Other than 'its chilly down here' comments, I have to say I think this is record companies trying to pose like they actually care about the consumer, while still loving the RIAA henchmen they employ. I don't buy it for a second.
    • Funny, if someone said the same thing about Jobs, they are trolls, but if they say it about the music industry people it's insightful.

      Not that I disagree, I'd say you are right on the ball, they just want to look good to encourage sales.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Funny, if someone said the same thing about Jobs, they are trolls

        The REAL funny thing is this hasn't always been true. On slashdot you used to be required to make fun of Apple and IBM, but you couldn't criticize, for example, Transmeta or Google. Now you can sort of criticize Google but you can really let Transmeta have it. Ninendo used to be fair game, but now they can do no wrong.

        And of course, interspersed with all this groupthink is the constant assertions by slashdotters how everyone else are "
        • I prefer to critcize just about everybody... Then again, I'll also mention their advantages and good sides when relevant too.

          That's the way it should be
      • by AndersOSU (873247)
        copy and paste from my comment on Job's proclamation here [slashdot.org]

        Apparently the argument isn't as transparent as the Economist says, (or maybe I'm just a bit tin-foilly today) but Jobs is a PR genius. If comes out against DRM, maybe he gets the French off his back, knowing full well that the RIAA will never allow him to sell non-DRM music. He's counting on not having to switch in a heart-beat. This way, he not only gets to look like "a champion of consumer rights," but also gets to maintain his lock in.

        Apple wou

    • Re:Alvislujia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarenN (411219) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:37AM (#18024166) Homepage
      Perhaps, but there is a real phenomenon of corporate momentum. It's more than possible that 48% of record executives believe that non-DRM is the way forward, but who actually decides the policies of the company? Partially, it's decided by "this is what we've always done" and partially by the conservative 10% who live at the top. They're the ones that a survey of would be interesting.
    • Re:Alvislujia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:42AM (#18024258)
      I disagree. I think that they've seen what happened to their MPAA buddies when they spent countless millions developing DRM for HD-DVD and BluRay, only to see them broken before the sales got off the ground.

      I always had a sense that while the RIAA execs had the information about the uselessness of DRM all along, their greed and anger was too great for them to admit it to anyone, especially themselves. But this recent fiasco, along with a very high profile essay by Jobs might have just been enough to jolt them into realizing that the reason that they're losing money, is because they're failing at their primary business model - music distribution.

      They got so caught in copyright protection that for awhile it seemed like this was their primary focus. It was almost clear that the RIAA lawsuits were becoming a profitable side-business in the form of outright racketeering and extortion.

      But perhaps the decreasing sales of CDs in the context of a flourishing DVD business, and very healthy iTMS sales, they've finally come to their senses.

      The goal of RIAA is to distribute music at a price to the consumer. So that's what they should be doing. If the labels got together, and opened an online music shop with non-DRM custom-format/bitrate downloads from 96kbps to uncompressed, a-la-AllOfMP3, they'd make a killing!

      So perhaps long-term greed reinforced by reality and logic has finally triumphed over old-school throat-ripping greed...
      • Re:Alvislujia (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Phreakiture (547094) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:07PM (#18024642) Homepage

        I think this analysis is correct.

        Back in the 80's, we went these particular rounds with the software industry. Software vendors had resorted to putting creative errors on their media, changing the track pitch, sometimes even using lasers to burn holes into floppy discs (the DRM system would attempt to write the sector that was supposed to have a hole in it, and then read it back, and exit if it succeeded in doing so) in an attempt to prevent illegal redistribution of their software.

        Ultimately, most software vendors gave up on this whole idea because the finally realised that they were doing more harm than good. In at least one instance, a game title that ran fine on my next-door neighbour's computer, would not run on mine. Both machines were essentially identical (Commodore 128, 512K expansion RAM, 1751 floppy drive). It turns out that the DRM kicked on this software simply because my floppy driver was ever so slightly out of alignment.

        At any rate, the software vendors largely gave up, though they are starting to get back into it again. On the part of the MAFIAA, this is a case of them failing to learn from another industry's mistakes. Now, it looks like they are starting to get it. Hallefuckinlujia!

        Incidentally, I am still pissed off over HD-DVD and BluRay players downrezzing when connected to an analogue HDTV. I was an EARLY ADOPTER and helped FUND the RESEARCH that made HDTV possible, motherfuckers!

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        They got so caught in copyright protection that for awhile it seemed like this was their primary focus. It was almost clear that the RIAA lawsuits were becoming a profitable side-business in the form of outright racketeering and extortion. But perhaps the decreasing sales of CDs in the context of a flourishing DVD business, and very healthy iTMS sales, they've finally come to their senses.

        I think the key thing that the companies are missing is that people generally rise (or fall) to your expectations. The

      • Re:Alvislujia (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:31PM (#18026014)
        The goal of RIAA is to distribute music at a price to the consumer.

        No, that's the goal of the RIAA-member record companies.

        The RIAA's original goal was to establish and enforce technical interoperability standards that would ensure that an album released by any label would play back accurately on any make of record player. Ironically, the RIAA's current efforts are very much the opposite of that original charter.

  • Told Ya (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=222358&cid=180 11682 [slashdot.org]

    "I know many media execs, both music and film/video, here in Los Angeles and have had many discussions with them about DRM.

    Every single one of them hates DRM, thinks it is a pain in the ass to deal with, would love to sell all of their content without DRM.

    But they all live in the real world."

    • Re:Told Ya (Score:5, Informative)

      by Drogo007 (923906) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:36AM (#18024148)
      I think you've hit the nail on the head.

      I spent 8 years in the video game industry and eventually wound up as one of two guys in the studio responsible for Copy Protection. I got the dubious honor of dealing with the tools to make sure all our CDs had our chosen form of copy protection "working".

      At no point did I think the copy protection was worth the time and money we spent on it. The members of management I talked to about it weren't convinced that it was worth it either. But there was just enough anecdotal "evidence" of pirates completely eviscerating sales of games that shipped without copy protection that management was terrified to try and ship without it.

      Next time you hear the **AA's going on about how piracy is killing them, realize that they may be targetting those who make decisions about including DRM just as much, or possibly more, than they're targetting the lawmakers or joe public.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by danpsmith (922127)

        Next time you hear the **AA's going on about how piracy is killing them, realize that they may be targetting those who make decisions about including DRM just as much, or possibly more, than they're targetting the lawmakers or joe public.

        Okay, but that makes me ask in my head why would they want the DRM if not for this purpose? Many people like to push the "control the consumer" and "make them re-buy things" theories here, but honestly, do you really think that's the reason? Maybe the **AAs do actually t

        • Don't forget, too, that in the US it's a crime under the DMCA to bypass the DRM for the purposes of making illegal copies in addition to the copyright issue itself. So DRM makes people prosecutable for another offense, which they probably think is further deterrent.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Dog-Cow (21281)
            The DMCA does not allow you to bypass DRM for *legal* copies either.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by kimvette (919543)
              Read the exclusions; bypassing/cracking DRM for the purpose of interoperability is allowed.

              What falls under interoperability?

              - viewing/listening on another platform (Linux, BSD)
              - cracking for making Fair Use backups (interoperability because standard backup programs cannot read encrypted DVDs)
              - transcoding for use on other platforms or devices (again, Fair Use)

              It's licensed, you say? No, it's a commodity good which is protected by Copyright. While I cannot take, say, The Wall and leg
        • by AndersOSU (873247)
          I think you're giving the content industries more credit then they deserve. I don't think that anyone is actually thinking about the relative pros and cons of DRM. (At least they aren't paying anyone to do so in order to issue recommendations effect policy in any non-trivial way.)

          I think the only reason they do it is because that is the way the market is trending - which promptly becomes a self-filling prophesy.

          The RIAA is a machine, and like any poorly managed machine/corporation, it will continue to do
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 (468275)
          Many people like to push the "control the consumer" and "make them re-buy things" theories here, but honestly, do you really think that's the reason?

          In a word, yes. The revenue due to the forced repurchase of content -- "enabling new business models" is the market-speak used normally -- is far greater than the revenue gained by preventing some casual piracy. Every DRM system can be bypassed by people who value their time at a low enough level (students, people in Third-World countries) to make it worthwhile
      • by Tim C (15259)
        But there was just enough anecdotal "evidence" of pirates completely eviscerating sales of games that shipped without copy protection that management was terrified to try and ship without it.

        It's a good job you didn't tell them about gamecopyworld, they'd have died of fright.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by saskboy (600063)
        It's so frustrating that there is so much great content out there, but it will barely survive the passage of time in the best of cases. DRM makes content survival much shorter though, as there are more points of failure in the ability to access the content on the media. With the cracking of BluRay, HDDVD's AACS, and DVD's CSS, it's a damn shame that content that should be simple to backup and modernize through the ages, will be stuck in the late 20th Century model of limiting access through a keycode.
  • Usurpers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:28AM (#18024004) Homepage Journal

    Is this yet another sign of the typical media industry 'head in the sand, refuse to change' approach, or might we be seeing the early stages or some actual change?"

    Sounds more like preparation for those wretched music execs to put out non-DRM'd music like it was their idea all along; as if their customers haven't been shouting for DRM-free products all this time.

    • Imagine you're a little baby bird learning to fly. You want to fly. You think life would be better if you could fly. So you step up to the edge of a cliff and look down. You understand that, if everything goes according to your theory, you should be fine. But then you think, "What if I'm not the sort of bird that could fly? What if I'm an ostrich or a penguin?" You realize that you have a choice: you can continue to walk around and your life will be fine, or you could take a chance, jump off the clif

      • Re:Usurpers (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:31PM (#18025016)
        Which would be fine, but thanks to napster, and all the p2p that has come since, they've already been forcibly thrown from the cliff. They better start flapping, or things could get ugly.
        • They may have already been thrown from the cliff, but they don't seem to really understand that. They still seem to think they're sitting on the edge, deciding whether to jump.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:34AM (#18024102)
    I was confused by the summary at first, and now that I've R'ed TFA, I am no more enlightened. The article says that music industry execs think they can boost sales with unencumbered music, but that music labels won't allow this to happen, and that in the future music execs want DRM to allow them to manage their rights rather than encumber music.

    So, can somebody please explain:

    (1) What is the difference between the music industry execs and the people who run the labels, and

    (2) If the music industry execs are saying they do or the don't want DRM?

    Thanks.

    • Well, there are the board of directors, the stock holders, and the parent company and its board/stockholders.
  • by Zigurd (3528) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:36AM (#18024134) Homepage
    Why did the music industry think consumers would accept DRM?

    The obvious and total failure of DRM'ed e-books should have warned them: Take a medium that consumers view as a tangible product, that they can buy and sell in an aftermarket, and try to turn it into a limited, licensed, revocable, non-transferable right-to-use at a not particularly attractive price - and it should succeed?

    What are they snorting? Oh. Right. Never mind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kat_skan (5219)
      Isn't it reaching a bit to assume that the reason eBooks failed is the public's rejection of DRM, rather than the readers costing hundreds of dollars and the books themselves costing as much or more as the paperback?
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:37AM (#18024172) Homepage
    So record company execs are saying:

    1) DRM is bad
    2) It hurts the market
    3) Doggone it, let's get rid of it!

    But then they say....

    4) But we're not going to get rid of it
    5) We're hoping the government will force us to get rid of it?

    I may not be as bright as some of you guys around here, but this doesn't make any sense.

    They really seem to be saying:

    1) DRM *THE WAY WE'VE DONE IT* is bad.
    2) No way will we get rid of it, we'd rather have bad DRM than none. We need to be able to resell Elvis tracks every 5 years to the same consumer.
    3) What we're hoping for is the government mandates a technical solution, since Apple has really screwed us up, and we don't seem to be able to work together to come up with a viable solution on our own.

    Seriously, if you're the government, isn't it reasonable to say "Gee, selling music to consumers is not a core function of government. You guys figure it out. We've already given you eternal copyrights and the FBI to enforce it, what else do you need?". But I guess that won't happen.
    • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:48AM (#18024358) Homepage
      I think it would be benificial for the government to prevent DRM. They wouldn't waste all that FBI money on enforcing it, they would waste all that money in the legal system fighting over it's infringement, and consumers get a product that isn't artificially limited in it's use. And depending on who you believe record sales will actually increase as consumers get a product they're more happy with/are able to let more people experience more music causing them to buy more music.

      It's win-win-win... except for the companies that exist only to develop ridiculous DRM schemes... but they were already losers anyway.
    • by Ngwenya (147097) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:20PM (#18024840)

      1) DRM *THE WAY WE'VE DONE IT* is bad.
      2) No way will we get rid of it, we'd rather have bad DRM than none. We need to be able to resell Elvis tracks every 5 years to the same consumer.
      3) What we're hoping for is the government mandates a technical solution, since Apple has really screwed us up, and we don't seem to be able to work together to come up with a viable solution on our own.


      The more I look at it, the more the music labels seem to resemble strung out junkies.

      They know that DRM hurts more than it helps.

      They know that infringing copying is rampant, and DRM schemes do nothing to stop it. I think they even know that the losses due to copying don't really make that much difference to their situation. Some difference, but not much. In fact, the most swapped music tends to enrich the bands at live gigs and sell more merchandise.

      They want to stop, but they just can't. They can't make that first step. One of them (EMI, maybe?) will go cold turkey for a bit. Their tracks will then be all over P2P as they already are and always were, but this will be enough for the pushers (DRM manufacturers) to say "See? Do you want that sort of pain for your back catalogue?", and enough of them will start hurting. Enough to continue the sad cycle.

      Eventually, they will phase out CD sales, and replace them with (DRM'ed) downloads only. Fine. I don't care. I won't buy them, and I won't even hack round them. And the bands I do buy from will be those who market themselves well enough, and play good gigs.

      An old industry dies. A new one lives. It's a fair trade.

      --Ng
  • DRM is good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pseudorand (603231) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:37AM (#18024174)
    Personally, I'm all for DRM. If we have a effective and uncrackable DRM system, more people wouldn't bother listening to the garbage hollywood and the music industry force on us (Brittany Spears, etc.) because they have to pay for it. Smaller artists who give their music away and make money by dealing directly with local radio stations concert venus would thrive.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yoozer (1055188)

      If we have a effective and uncrackable DRM system
      ...we still have the infamous analog hole, and people will be satisfied with 128kbps-quality rips. I don't think you can wean 'm off the drab.
    • Oh please. People buy music you think is "garbage" because they like it. They can already get the music the smaller artists are giving away for free, but they don't want it because it's crap. No one's "forcing" anyone to listen to anything; the major labels put out plenty of music that doesn't sell well, and you can bet if they could force people to buy it they would. Insightful my ass.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        No one's "forcing" anyone to listen to anything

        On the contrary; at its peak Clearchannel owned/controlled something like 75% of the radio stations in the US. If you want to listen to the radio, in most places you can ONLY get the usual commercial pap shoveled at you.

        • I'd like to see how GP's unbreakable DRM scheme is going to stop people from listening to Britney if they're not downloading her music but listening to it on the radio.

          Of course, since you're just making up statistics (Clear Channel has never controlled close to 75% of the US radio market or "something like" it), it's hard to take your comment seriously at all. I heard that currently 99% of US radio stations only play NPR news and indy rock. It's true because I said so.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        This is exactly right. If it was garbage, people wouldn't buy it. Money just doesn't come that easily.

        The same is true for movies as well. I've heard a ton of people claim everything put out in music and movies in the last X years is garbage and not worth buying. Every time I say 'No, I like some of it' someone picks some stupid stat off a website and says 'See, website x gave it 3% and they couldn't possibly be wrong.' They completely ignore the fact that it brought in millions of dollars its first we
    • Smaller artists who give their music away and make money by dealing directly with local radio stations concert venus would thrive.

      Conventional airtime is all tied up in payola and Clear Chanel mandated playlists. A New York station plays the exact playlist as an LA station.

      The smaller bands have to do an end run past the entrenched media cartel. The Internet is the new media. Find new bands on MySpace and YouTube, not the local radio station.
  • To summarize: 54% of music execs think that current DRM is too restrictive and 62% think selling unencumbered music would be a way to boost sales. Even limiting the survey to the record labels themselves, 48% believe this. Yet, many also believe it's not going to happen without significant governmental intervention....

    The bottom line is that a critical mass of the MAFIAA has figured out that their omerta is no longer viable, but nobody wants to be the first to break it.
  • The problem is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starseeker (141897) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:38AM (#18024190) Homepage
    if DRM is removed and piracy jumps, the cause-effect logic will be very hard to refute. It probably CAN be refuted (all that has to happen is to have a file successfully ripped once and it's all over the internet) but an observed jump post-DRM removal would undoubtedly end some careers. Nobody wants to take that chance.

    The music industry seems to be doing quite well (which is not to say the artists are getting all they really should, but that's another post) since they have money to spend playing around with copyright law. There is no "we need to try DRM-free music before our profits dry up!" imperative which might drive people to take risks and the company to accept risks, so DRM (which is easy to make sound good, whether it is or not) won't go anywhere until the case for it hurting sales AS A CONCEPT (not just a bad implementation) becomes obvious enough to convince anyone.

    The only way I can see that happening is an "open source music" phenomena that replaces corporate music trends, star generators, and hits with something just as good (or "effective" if you don't think it's good) but community controlled. That's hard, because opinions are subjective and can apparently be influenced by ads. We need a central site, lots of sources of music people want to listen to (not what they SHOULD want to listen to, mind you, but what they DO want to listen to - no running people down for their (lack of) taste), and quality control that people can trust. When THAT emerges, DRM will become too much of a liability. I don't see anything else that can do it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivan256 (17499)

      if DRM is removed and piracy jumps, the cause-effect logic will be very hard to refute.


      How can that possibly happen?

      The only way would be if removing the DRM caused additional media to be piratable... But what RIAA products aren't available in a DRM free form from illegal sources?

      Selling DRM free music wouldn't increase the supply of DRM free music, since that supply is already infinite. All it would do is increase their profits.
    • We need a central site, lots of sources of music people want to listen to (not what they SHOULD want to listen to, mind you, but what they DO want to listen to - no running people down for their (lack of) taste), and quality control that people can trust. When THAT emerges, DRM will become too much of a liability.

      It has emerged. It's called allofmp3.com [allofmp3.com]. Rather than trying to shut it down, they should be looking at it closely and emulating it. And if Russians can get stupid US patents, then they shoul

    • by rhizome (115711)
      (all that has to happen is to have a file successfully ripped once and it's all over the internet)

      This is old-guard thinking, that there is a such thing as "all over the internet," as if music can be spilled. It makes as much sense as "all over the radio," which perhaps some execs were afraid of in the age of shellac and 45s. There's a perceptual shift in thinking of internet proliferation as something good rather than something bad, and it's the conservative control freaks and cultural authoritarians who s
  • The Sales Department of any entertainment conglomerate will happily beat the "DRM is bad" drum because their job depends on it.

    Meanwhile, executive management is doing everything in their power to maintain their distribution cartel. DRM serves their end game quite nicely thank you.

    Consumers don't care and will accept their DRM schemes because they don't know any better. All the righteous outrage on ./ amounts to absolutely nothing because nothing will ever be done by nearly all ./er's. Most of us on ./ kn
  • by harshmanrob (955287) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:44AM (#18024288) Journal
    Remember the guy who beat the CD copying by using a black magic marker or macrovision's using the same video scrambler technology they developed in the 80s that can be defeated with a $30 video enhancer unit on eBay? Why is the industry wasting time and money to be encrypting systems that seems to be defeated before they are deployed in the market. DVD Jon has busted DVD's and other alleged "secure" media. Some of these hacks are 20 to 30 lines of code! So much for the millions of dollars invested. Even Legislation has done nothing. What has come from the RIAA suing 12 year old's for downloading music. Limewire and other P2P engines are active now more than ever. The funniest part is watching these music artists bitching about how record companies steal their money and giving a press conference with their million dollar mansion in the background, or coming out of a restaurant most people could not afford to eat at. The reality is modern music sucks, so does most of the content they are trying to protect. That is the real reason why the media companies are losing money, not because of piracy. They want to blame other people instead of the trash they are peddling as entertainment.
    • by revlayle (964221)
      You had me until "The reality is modern music sucks, so does most of the content they are trying to protect."

      That is a very SUBJECTIVE opinion. There is a good deal of modern music that is, in my opinion, good... and a good deal of "yesteryear" music that, again - in my opinion, really blows
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:45AM (#18024312)
    I'm not sure if they are mistaken or not.

    A few people revel in ripping things off. The music industry (MI) will lose some money on them.

    A lot of people have absolutely no morals and will do what costs them the least. MI will lose some money on them.

    A lot of people are as moral as they can afford to be. MI will lose some money on them if people feel swapping non-drm'd titles is okay.

    The folks folks who are very moral, it won't really matter unless the basic morality of the action is redefined by the culture (which I see a strong incentive to occur).

    It might turn out to be the last big blast of sales income before music sales dry up.
  • Surveys (Score:2, Insightful)

    by loafing_oaf (1054200)

    Surveys are one of the least reliable ways to get statistics. Why? Even with anonymity, people try to cast themselves in a good light on surveys. If music executives don't like DRM, then where is DRM coming from?

  • With all the anti-DRM stuff coming out of these guys who speak out of both sides of their mouth of late, it is easy to be cynical, and I have been cynical on this topic. Every one of the people who have come out against DRM (yes, Jobs too) has been a beneficiary.

    They all hate it? Fine, do away with it by mutual consent! Shut up and do it!

    Otherwise it is just like one of those ads that say the banks are your friends.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Only DRM Vendors want DRM and their strategy is to create fear that if you release any music without DRM it will be pirated.

    Common sense should tell them thats what a CD is, music without DRM, they are not changing the dynamic at all by giving up on that DRM crap.

    So FUD is all they have, because their DRM doesn't work and doesn't sell.
  • You know, I have been avoiding buying music over the 'net simply because I don't want to be stuck with some proprietary DRM format that isn't transferrable to my various players. For example, I once bought an album from Lush on Real Tunes or whatever. I then tried to transfer it to my Palm Zire and - bzz! - no luck. Because the Real Player on my Palm doesn't handle DRM files, I cannot play it. Oh, and it didn't play in Amarok either.

    I know the industry is afraid of downloads - just look at what you can get
    • Of course, come to think of it, I can't play my U2 or Duran Duran 12" EPs on Amarok either, so I wonder if my argument is moot...

      It is not DRM'ed. It is just in the wrong format. Non DRM CD's rip just fine to MP3. Non DRM 12 inch LP's also rip just fine. CDEX does a fine job. It's what I use on my 12 inch LP's. Choose your prefered bitrate and encoder.
  • They fought MP3's for years, they finally "gave in" and implemented restrictive DRM, now they finally may remove it because they think it will "help" sell their product.

    Good job fucksticks, if you would have embraced the technology 8 years ago you would possibly have much much better sales right now. You'd think the record industry would learn from past mistakes but no, the same morons keep making the same decisions.
  • It's because the music executives are realizing that if they insist on DRM, they may well end up at the mercy of a company who's DRM scheme gains monopolistic market share [apple.com] or that other company who wants its DRM scheme to gain monopolistic market share [microsoft.com].
  • by Tiger Smile (78220) <.james. .at. .dornan.com.> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:03PM (#18024582) Homepage
    ... allow, or deny?

    Allow.
  • I think that the model of digital distribution, that consists in having the consummer pay about as much for a data file as they would for a packaged physical support with the same content, is flawed at the core. You get at most the same experience as you would by paying for the physical object, and often much less : compare for example a TV show episode on iTunes : $35 for a whole season when a boxset can usually be had second hand for $25 on a C2C website. And then you have no widescreen, no subtitles, n
    • by thpr (786837) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:54PM (#18025406)
      I think that the model of digital distribution, that consists in having the consummer pay about as much for a data file as they would for a packaged physical support with the same content, is flawed at the core.

      Actually, while this may be unpopular on ./, it's indicative of value pricing of the digital product. You may not feel that is 'fair', but pricing isn't about fairness. It's about extracting the maximum amount of value from the consumer of the product while leaving the consumer with enough value that they return as a customer. In this case, the fact that the content is copyrighted generally trumps pricing fairness under anti-trust law (because the effect of copyright is to grant a temporary monopoly).

      Digital downloads and CDs are well differentiated products, and they both have an effective place in the market. I suspect the value for the digital content is appropriate. Marketing = Product, Promotion, Price, and Position (or some other form of 4 Ps equating to the same message), so if you are purchasing a season-at-a-time and are price sensitive, you are not their target market. That doesn't mean the market does not exist (e.g. I think ringtones are the biggest rip-off known to man-kind, but I can't ignore that it's a billion dollar market).

      Digital distribution is targeted at those who are either cherry-picking or are time sensitive. Conversion from a CD to digital form takes time and effort (worse for DVDs). To some people, this time is worth more than the price difference between the products (and to others, they are so price-insensitive, that they will probably buy the digital version to watch the show during their commute and then purchase the season DVDs once they are available). One could also digital distribution is carrying a premium price at the moment, because it's 'hip'.

      One pays MORE on a relative basis for an individual ditigal product of lower quality than they can receive on a CD or DVD. It's 100% consistent with hundreds of thousands of physical products you can buy in a store. Effectively, CDs/DVDs are bundles, where you also receive the benefits of the doctrine of first sale (because you bought a product, not a license). Therefore, by buying the bundle, you get a discount (or you can view it as getting the higher quality for free). Buying the individual songs, you pay the market rate. In the case of TV shows, you may also get a time advantage (this is part of 'Position': it will be out in digital form before the season DVD is available).

      Another useful analogy is to look at cost per bit of digital transmission. Try it someday on an SMS (cellular text) message (128 characters) vs. what the cable company pipes to you every month. The cost differential is something like 100,000X on a per-bit basis. That doesn't mean either cable or SMS is fundamentally flawed. SMS is certainly value-priced, but the number of users indicates it still possesses value even at that price.

      Note that this judgement is on a relative basis to the cost of a CD, I am making NO judgement here about whether the CD costs are over-inflated due to industry behavior. That is an entirely different discussion which is not required to properly evaluate the relative value of individual digital tracks to a physical CD.

      Given the current price of a CD, the prices are pretty close to what the market will bear (they are value priced). CDs can be effectively purchased for about $7-$8 at your favorite music club or other method of bulk purchases. So effectively, if you're buying more than 3 tracks on a CD, it's much more cost effective to buy the CD. For a one-hit wonder or a band where you appreciate a single song, but generally cringe at the music, use a $1/track digital source.

  • by Didion Sprague (615213) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:11PM (#18024714)
    I don't think it's a much of stretch to say that selling music without DRM will probably destroy Microsoft.

    I think *this* -- essentially the end of Microsoft -- is what's at the core of all of this. And the end of Microsoft will be the *result* of DRM-less tracks. Jobs knows this. Everybody knows this. This is the elephant in the room that no one is talking much about.

    Vista is all about DRM -- everything about Vista is DRM wrapped in eye-candy. Vista is the DRM operating system.

    The end of DRM means the end of Microsoft as the major OS player. It also means a return to the "hobbyist" computers of the 1980s -- the TRS-80s and the Commodore 64s and the Apple IIs. This "hobbyist" market continues to erode as DRM gains a foothold. Drop DRM, and we're back to where we were 25 years ago -- personal computers that were meant to serve users not the corporations.

    Just my two cents.

    • And if I had a nickel for every Slashdot prediction that "[fill in the blank] is Microsoft's stupidest move ever and will finish them off." I could buy them myself and put them under... Apple may well live and die by selling their music, but Microsft is hardly going to be put out of business by DRMless music. I mean what do you think is on all those CDs they sell every year? Right, DRMless music and yet MS is still somehow in busines...
    • by nmos (25822)
      I don't think it's a much of stretch to say that selling music without DRM will probably destroy Microsoft.

      I don't think I'd go that far but it would certainly hurt MS. I actually think it would be pretty funny if, after spending millions (maybe billions), trying to corner the market on DRM MS were told by the various media producers ... err.... never mind.

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:36PM (#18025088) Homepage Journal
    Just as some slaveholders were beginning to come out against slavery before the (U.S.) Civil War, mainly on economic grounds. There were not enough of them, however, and they were not in sufficient numbers to prevent said war.
  • by rlp (11898) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:45PM (#18025218)
    I used to listen to music during my daily commute and while exercising (cycling). I'd convert my CD's to MP3 and burn mix CD's for the car and load-up my (non-IPod) MP3 player for exercise. After encountering a CD I couldn't rip for MP3's due to DRM (and that the store wouldn't allow me to return) - I stopped buying CD's. I've tried ITunes - but it's too much hassle to get it to work with non-IPods.

    Anyway I've switched to listening to podcasts (Thank you Leo Leporte!!). I use 'Juice' to download (via the RSS feed) and just drop it onto my MP3 player. Got a wireless transmitter for the car, which is not great for music, but good enough for voice.
  • Competition? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kthejoker (931838) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:51PM (#18025354)
    What really strikes me as amusing about this whole conversation is that the members of the RIAA and the industry at large are no longer even pretending like there is any actual competition going on at the music distribution level.

    And even better, everyone here in this discussion basically assumes that the industry is acting as one singular beast. They say things like "Well, when DRM is removed, blah blah blah..." as if all of the companies will, you know, COLLUDE to just end DRM one day and that'll be that.

    The sad part is that, of course, all of these posts are right. The industry no longer acts as a bunch of competing units. They are essentially acting as a philosophical (if not legally binding) conglomerate on all of the ideas about music distribution. That's just sickening.

    Why can't one company take that risk now? Why not, you know, offer a *COMPETING* business model of DRM-free music at the upper levels? Of course there are a number of independent companies who do just that, but why can't EMI, for example, just dump DRM? It's because they're all in bed together.

    I think we should resist at all times the premise that the RIAA is just some mythical octopus, a single unit with many arms. These types of industry-wide assurances and reclamations are damaging to the whole premise of business as it is. The fact that none of them are even attempting to compete on these terms is just proof that we have already let them cement their status as a de facto monopoly. To not even fight them on that front is disheartening.

    To music executives: Your industry is in crisis. Take a fucking risk!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrguru (88047)
      The competition is in herding artists, not in delivering content. There logically can be no compteition between selling CDs from Band A and someone else selling CDs from Band B - unless you believe that Band A and Band B are interchangable units each delivering the same unit.

      There can't be the kind of competition you are talking about because to most people they are not buying per-unit-weight of commodity music. They are buying Band A's music or Band B's music. It wouldn't matter if this came from EMI, W
  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:58PM (#18025500)
    At least, it's what I think they would think.

    Most "big hits" these days are CDs filled with garbage. If you look at the number one selling CDs, it's the "Wow! Now that's what I Call Music - Volume 845". Music executives know that people are only going to buy the CDs that are filled with stuff that audiences like, and enjoy.

    That said, look at the music that's released on those 'compilation' CDs. The music is all old and past its 'hit single' prime. It's not terribly old, but it's not the stuff that plays commonly on the radio either.

    Most artists have 'filler' CDs. That is to say, they have maybe two tracks that are any good, and the rest is total crap. But the music companies can charge you for the full price of the CD, filler and all. You pay for all 12 or 15 songs or whatever, when all you wanted was the two. And now with iTunes, you can pay $2 and get those two tracks alone. The odds of you buying entire albums now goes down significantly because you know that most artists pretty much suck donkey balls, and you just like that one "lalalala cookie monster" song. They are going to get smaller slices of the pie.

    With DRM gone, there's no tie to iTunes and as well, people aren't as leery of buying music online because they know no matter what, their music will play in their car, on any mp3 player, and won't expire or screw up. It will spur rapid adoption of online music because it's easy to use, easy to share, easy to listen to, and gets you exactly what you want, without paying for filler.

    And further, with rapid adoption of online music, the 'indie' bands now have a greater chance at making it big, because there is no reliance on music industry to play their music on the radio. Digital music will hit a critical mass quickly I think, and services like Pandora and Last.fm will become the standard for listening to music, instead of turning on your radio. You'll tell Last.fm that you like bands X, Y, and Z, all of which are mainstream bands. Then Last.fm will say "hey, you like them, you might like bands A, B and C" -- which are indie bands.

    And in the end, the only people who are going to gain are the fans -- artists won't be able to produce filler CDs because they won't be able to make a living off of them (ala Britney Spears and the others), record companies won't control what we listen to because we have services like Last.fm, Pandora and the wonderful "word of mouth" (which is lightspeed on the internet). Music industry loses control, artists realize that if they are good, they can self-publish, and they all lose out.

    As Cartman said to Token in South Park (playing the role of the Music Industry here) -- "From now on, we are an entertainment team, Token. You just do all the singing, all the performing, and all the entertaining... and leave the rest to us." That really won't work any more. And it's a good thing for us as fans, bad for the recording industry. And it's inevitable anyway.... just give it time.
  • by dlim (928138) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:06PM (#18025618) Journal

    Mr Mulligan said he was "surprised" at the strength of the responses which came from large and small record labels, rights bodies, digital stores and technology providers.
    I know we all hate DRM and would love to think that most of the executives in the major labels agree with us, but I have serious doubts about the numbers and conclusions drawn from this study. The article provides no information on how many people were surveyed or how many of them were execs from large record labels, small record labels, "rights bodies" (whatever that means), digital stores, or "technology providers" (again, a little vague IMHO).

    We already know small labels are fine with selling their music without DRM. Merge Records [mergerecords.com] and Sub Pop [subpop.com] are now giving their customers DRM-free, digital copies of their music with vinyl copies of it. There are many independent labels on eMusic.com [emusic.com]. And there are a number of small stores out there selling DRM-free mp3s.

    The point is: these numbers tell us nothing. They are totally useless, because we have no context for the information. They do not suggest that the Big 4 labels dislike DRM at all.
  • I'd buy more than the handful of tracks I have online if there weren't DRM. It would save me the hassle of buying CDs from Amazon or used record shops.
  • File under Apple? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dlim (928138)
    Also, why exactly does a store about an opinion survey on DRM belong under Apple? If I remember correctly, Apple is not the only company that uses DRM, nor is Steve Jobs the only person to ever have an opinion on it. Did we used to put this under YRO?
  • News just in: bears defecate in woods. Rumours that Pope may be Catholic confirmed.
  • ...if they sell unencumbered music, how much will the quality of P2P nets improve? Even with "scene" standards of EAC/lame, there are plenty crappy rips, different versions of lame, different settings that means there's no one definitive mp3 version. Now imagine there's an "official" mp3, and everyone flocked to that? That the message was "don't rip yourself, use the official one" then you'd only be left with the fake files left by the RIAA.
  • You are right! Why were you so stupid? File sharing is very similar to broadcasting. Do you want radio play for your crap? Hell yes, because it spurs sales. Why not do away with DRM and consider digital media like broadcasting? In fact, why charge the end user at all! Do like a radio station, and charge the broadcaster royalties. Then you have a legitimate reason in most countries to go and extract your tithe.

    People still buy the CDs. I don't put burned disks in my stereo. If I hear something I li
  • ... the consumers who have been communicating it to the music industry.

    Give credit where it is genuinely due.

    If MS did it they wouldn't be credited any where near as much as they credit themselves with.

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

Working...