St. Vincent is our first indie MixTape after the successful Instant Karma launch. Check her music and schedule out. If you love Annie's music, please put it on your blog, MySpace, Facebook or other social network.
Here I go again... I have never figured out why people want to restrict fair use of music... If you're interested in finding out what we're about to unleash into the music scene, sign up on mecommerce.goodstorm.com and rock with us soon.
After attending the Bandwidth Conference, my eyes opened wide to the many challenges the music industry faces from multiple dimensions.
I am going to begin writing about my thoughts and observations and maybe elicit some honest debate.
LimeWire is proposing to do audio/digital fingerprinting (sometimes called a digital watermark) as their DRM methodology. I guess this technology is the lesser of all evils compared to platform limiting Apple or Microsoft DRM schemes. My opposition to this DRM method is based on practical experience having personally designed such a system in 1998. It is prone to abuse particularly in these times when governments around the world routinely use terrorism as justification to infringe on privacy and civil liberties. Think of Sony's rootkit debacle magnified a million fold. Digital watermarking/fingerprinting is a very bad idea that takes us closer to Orwell.
I have nothing against DRM per se except it reminds me of Linus' blanket. DRM does little to stop the bad guys who will continuously steal music and video without regard to intellectual property and copyright law. Last weekend in the Alameda flea market, there were several folks selling the latest CDs for pennies on the dollar. I doubt they observed intellectual property laws.
DRM does not make honest folks more honest. It just restricts the fair use rights of honest music fans.
DRM also has very negative effect on the music ecosystem. While you can argue there are many DRM schemes, the practical reality is there is only one: Apple's DRM which creates a monopolistic ecosystem wherein the prices are set by Apple. All the labels including Sony, EMI, Universal and Warner are held hostage by Apple.
There is no other way to describe the situation. The price lock that Apple wields has detrimental trickle down effects on other music retailers, distributors, labels and artists. The price is artificial and does not allow market forces to set the economic watermarks. I am not against any form of music but it seems clear to me that John Legend's latest album might fetch more than .99 cents versus some religious chant by right-wing wannabe rockers. There is no way to do this in the current monopolistic environment.
Even more economically devastating is the backward DRM'ed subscription model that other digital music retailers use. They claim it's great for consumers. What about the artists do work hard only to get 0.0003 cents per subscribed track? Session players, publishers and other music ecosystem participants all have to share the pittance.
I was once a corporate strategist so rants (...even my own) don't impress me. In a few weeks, I will publish a practical business roadmap to eliminate DRM in a "Capitalism Done Right" framework.
Elliot had great insights but he missed a fundamental observation that non-DRMed MP3 format music plays across all MP3 player platforms including iPods, SanDisk's Sensa players and virtually all digital music hardware platforms. In addition, all mobile phones in the next 18 months will have MP3 capabilities as a standard feature.
I suspect that hardware vendors were enticed by Microsoft with coop advertising dollars plus the promise of technology support for subscriptions and other marketing schemes. It is still hard to understand why many hardware companies fell for Microsoft's DRM promises only to find themselves being abandoned to the ash bin of broken and obsolete technologies.
On the idea of a SanDisk-type hardware manufacturer buying a Napster ~ That's like taking a sledge hammer and hitting your own head. Why would a smart person buy a package that leads them to a technological dead end? It's like buying a Microsoft Windows 3.1 and WordPerfect for your nifty little dual core laptop.
On the other hand, there is such a thing as masochism and maybe the digital music hardware companies are fans of this business lifestyle. I hope not.
After two days at the Music and Technology Bandwidth Conference, I am even more convinced that record labels will abandon DRM sooner rather than later. Labels have already seen the bad results of allowing one company to dominate the market, taking away all pricing power from both the labels and the buying public.
On a whole other rant, Music Gremlin just released what could possibly be the ugliest MP3 player on the market.
The business model seems to be a subscription system which is oppressive to labels, distributors and artists alike. Artists suffer in the digital market with the minuscule take from subscription-based services.
Another thing, whoever did the branding for this ugly beast must be hoping that no one remembers one of the world's ugliest car: the dreaded ugly AMC Gremlin or the dumb 1984 movie: Gremlins. My theory is that the AMC Gremlin was singularly responsible for the collapse of the American auto industry. I hope the Music Gremlin folks did not pay anyone to name this product.
Capitalism Done Right applies to all. We're going to unleash a GoodStorm on the digital music scene.