Friday, May 18, 2007 criticized for small DRM-free mp3 catalogue

Seattle — Amazon’s plans to sell music only in the unprotected-MP3 format guarantees the broadest base of compatible playback devices, but doesn’t deliver the broadest catalog of downloadable music, analysts and marketers told TWICE.
Amazon’s downloads will be compatible with more portable, home and car audio devices than any other authorized download site, including Apple’s iTunes site, the analysts explained, but unless other major music companies join EMI Music and independent labels in the Amazon launch, Amazon’s selection will not be as broad as other sites’ selection, they said.
Marketers and analysts also said the announcement by the industry’s largest online merchant:
·doesn’t spell the end of digital rights management (DRM) technology, which must be used by subscription-download sites;
·could diminish the potential appeal of competing codecs such as AAC, if the remaining Big Four music companies join EMI in authorizing unprotected-MP3 sales; and·won’t give makers of other-brand MP3 players much of a sales advantage over the iPod, given iPod’s ability to play unprotected MP3 music.

I think that this is making a mountain out of a molehill. It's early days still for DRM-free downloads, and eventually momentum will gather in support. I personally don't see subscription-based services making it in the long run, versus an a la carte menu where you buy the songs you want on a per title basis.

With declined hardcopy revenue, once the DRM-free downloads begin to take off, you will see more music labels get on board, since it makes sense to make more sales with the winning model, instead of fewer sales in another venue.

Then again, it isn't unheard of for the music labels to make poor decisions...

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1 comment:

Flatland Pastor said...

Years ago I imagined a "record shop" that could harness the power of digital media and meet the ever shifting demands of a rapidly diversifying marketplace.

Imagine if you will, a "store" filled with listening stations having access to a vast catalogue of music. Interactive displays allow customers to browse, seeing and hearing the latest releases. Individual booths would become the sales stations where customers could peruse the catalogue, choose their songs/albums/collections/videos/mp3s and whatever else. Very high quality server/burner hardware would create the discs (for those that want such things) and use professional quality printers to create booklet and cd art. Basically, production would happen on site as required - otherwise customers could download files directly to their players.

The hard goods items for sale (inventory) would be artist associated paraphernalia (t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, mouse pads - you name it Bunky). These stores would have live performance areas so touring and local artists could do promo sessions. The key to driving sales would be that low cost of the individual files coupled with an experience in a fun atmosphere with no frustration because a title is "sold out".

With savings in shipping (no product returns, no deletes), guaranteed sales (no product out of stock - ever) and value added sales from other items these new "record shops" could preserve the specialty shop atmosphere most music aficionados miss while allowing the next generation of music fan to get better quality software (read - not that compressed junk).

I'm still not impressed with mp3 sound. My son completely re-downloaded his ipod list because he chose a compression rate that eventually drove him buggy from a quality perspective. I still buy cds because my cd player - even my car player - kicks my mp3 player to the curb and back again in sound quality.

Quality, service and price - it just might be possible to get it all if some folks were to employ some creativity.

Oh waitaminit! I'm sorry! I forgot we were talking about the music industry. My bad. No creativity or forward thinking there. Really, sorry. Go back to your regularly scheduled surfing. It was/is a pipe dream.