EMI almost gets it.


It was great to see a member of the RIAA finally break free and do something progressive for a change. EMI, with Steve Jobs in tow, announced that they’d allow customers to purchase digital songs without DRM (Digital Rights Management) included. They also woke up on the quality issue and stated that they’d immediately allow these songs to be had at 256kbps instead of the original 128kbps. What was most interesting to me was a comment about allowing quality downloads all the way up the spectrum including CD-audio-quality downloads.

The problem is that EMI has done this while still keeping DRM on their entire library at the 99 cents per song level. If they really don’t believe DRM helps then why are the keeping it on these low-quality songs? It makes little, if any, sense.

I’ve been saying for years that many of us out here used Napster as a testing ground for songs we really wanted. If we liked them we’d go buy the CD. I did this quite often. Once Napster was shut down I stopped buying. I, along with many others, have no interest in paying ANYTHING for crippled, low-quality versions of songs we like. If I want that I’ll just record it from the radio. Paying for these rip-offs just reminds me that I’m being ripped-off.

Some out there are complaining that EMI priced the new 256kbps DRM-free songs at $1.29 or 30 cents more than the other versions. This doesn’t bother me for a simple reason. Once this catches on, and it is only a matter of time, competition will fix this issue. I have every reason to believe that we’ll be able to download CD-audio versions of our songs for the same 99 cents as before. It’ll just take a while.

Once that happens I’ll need to prepare my wife as we’re going to need to give up some hobbies to be able to afford all the songs I want to archive. I really never needed the CD’s guys. I just have them because I knew it was the only way to assure my collection. I’d love to forget all about physical media and just get entire CD’s for $6.99 – $9.99 and know that they’re forever mine without having to keep an actual CD floating about.

EMI is taking the first tentative baby step in this area. It won’t be the last. I just hope it’s not that much longer before the follow-up steps are taken.

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