Monday, August 13, 2007

Best Buy to sell DRM-free music downloads

In case anybody thinks that all I do around here is look for new and cynical ways of pillorying companies for acting in stupid and shortsighted ways, here's a breath of fresh air.

TWICE: Best Buy Digital Music Store To Offer DRM-Free Music
Best Buy said its Best Buy Digital Music Store will participate in a test by Universal Music Group that will give customers the chance to purchase music unprotected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) software for the same price they would pay for protected music.
“Our customers have shared their frustration around DRM protection and we have listened,” said Jennifer Schaidler, music VP for Best Buy. “One of the most appealing aspects of digital music is the freedom it can provide to enjoy music wherever and whenever you want. Taking away DRM protection will help digital music live up to this promise.

Now, I'm going to go way out on a limb and speculate that if given a choice, all many consumers would rather buy music downloads that play without a hitch across all of the hardware platforms that the consumer owns, and doesn't make random mp3 players seize up, or report their activities back to Big Brother. If the DRM-free downloads cost the same, I imagine that it would take the consumer about a picosecond to make their choice.

Call it a hunch.

I don't know how experimental this experiment is, from Best Buy's perspective. They're not especially innovative on their own, so they wouldn't throw their weight behind this unless they really believed that it will pay off. Kudos for them. More importantly, if Best Buy is seen to do well with selling unadulterated music downloads, it will snowball to other content providers, and quickly!

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