Digital Music

Slow March To DRM Free Music Becomes A Sprint

The slow march towards universal DRM free music appears about to become a sprint to the finish line.  Recent developments pushing Sony BMG, WMG and other holdouts to reconsider their protectionist positions include:

  • Initial sales and kudos from the media and consumers for Amazon’s all mp3 store
  • Rumors that we’ve been hearing for weeks of a billion (yes that’s a b) track giveaway involving Pepsi and the Amazon mp3 store to be unveiled during the Super BowlDrm_anti_wall
  • Rumors that WalMart.com is demanding that all labels deliver tracks as DRM free mp3’s or risk being booted off the site
  • Solid digital sales increases at EMI since going DRM free
  • Signs that the Universal "experiment" is now a permanent policy shift
  • An increasing number of hold-out labels including most recently Hollywood experimenting with DRM free sales
  • Rumors that Sony BMG is readying an mp3 experiment and that WMG is finally allowing the possibility to be be openly discussed
  • A more rapid than expected decline in physical CD sales
  • Increased popularity of The Zune and other players beyond the iPod

Just a week ago I asked "Has The March To DRM Free Stalled?" It appears that I should have trusted my own December ’06 prediction that 2007 would be the breakthrough year for DRM free music.

Sources: Original Reporting and Billboard.biz (Ed Christman)

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3 Comments

  1. The sad thing is, this has nothing to do with the industry waking up and realizing they are on the wrong side of history or trying to give people what they want (or what the biz thinks they want) or any kind of real change of heart. This is all about besting Apple, plain and simple.
    Assuming they can do it, then what?
    I’m not a huge Apple fan, but I like the sort of checks and balances the iTunes Music Store has provided. DRM may be off the table now, until they can pass Apple by. Assuming they can, who is to say it won’t return on down the road?

  2. Thanks for your comments below. I think you’re both right.
    Most labels are not making this move to DRM free for the right reasons and it won’t mean a big bump in sales.
    I believe the real value DRM free and universal compatibility is that it opens up the floodgates for many more innovations in distribution and marketing. 2008 at should be an interesting year.

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