Let’s be frank for a moment. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is antitrust and anti-radical trust. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the iTunes music store because of its DRM. Why should you pay $1 for a track loaded with DRM when you can download it for free from a torrent with no restrictions at all? Why should anyone pay to be restricted? How can a business model be sustainable with such an obvious lack of logic? This continues to be the unapologetic insanity of the record business and the motivation for Steve Jobs’ call for DRM to be lifted this week.
These record execs are too quick to blame the consumer for their woes. The “evil” Napster was the best thing that never happened to the record business. Napster’s peak happened in an era of record breaking CD sales. Perhaps those sales had something to do with the Napster enabled discovery of new music. If the labels had embraced the potential of Napster and radically trusted their consumers instead of conspiring to bring it all down, they may have realized a new revenue stream that would have secured themselves a place in the music business forever.
Remember when the cost of a tape averaged $10. Then CD’s were released (an obviously cheaper format) and the price doubled to a gouging $20 on average. I find it hard to care about an industry that gouged me as hard as they did, especially when I compare my collection of over 300 plastic discs collecting dust to my iPod, which I don’t leave home without. I have purchased Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon four times now. I am done paying for that album, thank you.
Speaking of the back catalogue, the price structure is another level of insanity I will never understand. Why is this the only business who’s product increases in price over time? Try and pick up an album on CD from the 1970’s and you’re looking at $26 or more in some cases, but for the latest top forty CD you’re paying a mere $13-15. Why is that? Would you expect to pay more for a book released in the 1970’s? How about a movie? What about shelling out more for an older car, appliance, electronic, suit, bike, lawnmower, cellphone… anything…. It’s crazy that they expect us to pay more for older releases.
This week’s call from Steve Jobs is long overdue. I hope that more visionaries like this guy can convince the world that there is more money to be made in trusting people than there is in restricting them. He should also be working on the price model. $1 a track for the latest tunes, 10 cents a track for the back catalogue would be a nice start. Maybe a sliding scale based on popularity. Or even better, a flat rate subscription to everything ever recorded with a hardware device that provides me audio on demand access.
Could this be the future plan for iPhone?
Let the future come, but for now, anytime trust is embraced money seems to follow.
Good job Jobs.
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