Are you willing to pay extra for DRM-free songs?

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    Posted: 02 April 2007 07:30 AM

    Fairplay-protected 128kb tracks cost $0.99 at the iTunes Store. Come May, you can buy copy protection-free songs encoded at 256kb for $1.29. Is the price worth it to you?

         
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    Posted: 02 April 2007 07:47 AM #1

    I like the choice…

    I wish all songs came with no DRM, higher quality and still only cost 99 cents. But am glad to have the choice. Now if they allow me to upgrade my current songs purchased from iTunes at the cost different, that would be something.

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  • Posted: 02 April 2007 07:54 AM #2

    Re: I like the choice…

    [quote author=“fultonkbd”]Now if they allow me to upgrade my current songs purchased from iTunes at the cost different, that would be something.

    You will be able to at $0.30 per song.

    I, for one, will pay the extra ammount to buy these non-DRM files. No question.

    It’s also worth pointing out that album prices won’t change but they WILL be the higher-quality, non-DRM files. It’s only the single-purchase DRM-free files that have a higher price.

         
  • Posted: 02 April 2007 07:57 AM #3

    The question still in my mind, and I see no reference to it in the EMI or Apple press release, is how does this affect compensation to the creators of the music - the aritst. We the buying public, get an option to remove DRM from our recorded music and receive an improvement in sound quality. How do the artist fare in this new arrangement?

         
  • Posted: 02 April 2007 08:12 AM #4

    Not really

    There’s only one reason I could think of for Apple to offer DRM-free music at AAC@256kbps: EMI wanted more money for DRM-free and Apple didn’t want to charge more money just for that reason alone. So they have decided to also increase the bitrate so that people think “Wow! That’s a great deal: a DRM-free music twice the bitrate for just 30 cents more!” In fact it isn’t so much better. Very few people will even notice difference between a CD and AAC@128kbps, let alone between AAC@128kbps and AAC@256kbps, so there’s absolutely no legitimate reason to sell music at 256kbps: those, who _would_ hear the difference, would unlikely to buy music from iTunes and instead will more likely to buy a CD without any compression whatsoever. Those who wouldn’t hear the difference wouldn’t care much if it’s 128 or 256 kbps in terms of sound quality, but certainly will notice the increase in file size, as now their iPods will have twice less music fit into them. Think of those who own Shuffle.

    So no, I don’t think 30c increase in price for a single track is reasonable, because there’s no benefit other than lack of DRM, and I can get DRM-free music in AAC format from allofmp3.com. And personally I think even 99c per track is still too much.

         
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    Posted: 02 April 2007 08:30 AM #5

    [quote author=“arkough”]The question still in my mind, and I see no reference to it in the EMI or Apple press release, is how does this affect compensation to the creators of the music - the aritst. We the buying public, get an option to remove DRM from our recorded music and receive an improvement in sound quality. How do the artist fare in this new arrangement?

    Silly question. In the age of the Internet, any new artist that gets tied up with a record label gets exactly what they deserve. That might include an advance on royalties, studio time, production, distribution, promotion, and touring. If they prefer, for a few thousand dollars, they can record and produce their own album, sign up with a minor label that has ties to iTunes, and keep a higher percentage (of nothing) for themselves.

         
  • Posted: 02 April 2007 08:32 AM #6

    Re: Not really

    I think this is a great move, mostly because its a significant first step towards proving that DRM is not only annoying but largely unprofitable. I plan on taking advantage as soon as I see some music I want available in the higher end format, to support the concept of eliminating DRM with my dollars if for no other reason.

    The other thing, people like to talk about how high quality CDs are versus mp3/aac/etc, but making that gross generalization fails to account for the quality of the source material. Yes the format itself is of better quality, but if the recording itself was flawed or low quality that just means CDs reproduce those problems better. I remember when CDs were still a relatively new format, my dad was an early adopter. Just as with SA-CD and DVDa now, most of the available recordings were classical pieces. Such was the quality of the format that you could hear musicians coughing and every little missed note, as my dad was quixotically happy to point out.

    Also, I for one can’t wait for Brick and Mortar CD retailers to die. I worked at one for a long time, and no media corporation deserves oblivion more, with the possible exception of the music labels themselves.

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  • Posted: 02 April 2007 08:37 AM #7

    Re: Are you willing to pay extra for DRM-free songs?

    [quote author=“Jeff Gamet”]Fairplay-protected 128kb tracks cost $0.99 at the iTunes Store. Come May, you can buy copy protection-free songs encoded at 256kb for $1.29. Is the price worth it to you?

    The price is worth it to me because I almost never buy individual songs. (I’m a bit of a “whole album” snob, sorry). I love that the album prices are staying the same. I think that is a very reasonable way to market a new option- buy the whole damned thing if you don’t want to pay a higher price for a higher quality version of an individual song.

         
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    Posted: 02 April 2007 08:41 AM #8

    Re: Not really

    [quote author=“DaiMac”]I think this is a great move, mostly because its a significant first step towards proving that DRM is not only annoying but largely unprofitable.

    Don’t bet on it. Music sales are in decline. Lightweight DRM has a very positive effect on sales, just as activation codes have a very positive impact on software sales. Neither are pirate proof (nor are they designed to be as the copyfight asshats would claim), but they do help honest people stay honest. The shareware industry established this with many experiments a decade ago.

    The music industry has bigger issues than DRM. DRM may be more problematic from a PR perspective than it defends in sales. Apple also has a DRM problem with the Euros in charge. A step like this will certainly fog up the issue making it less likely that Apple will outright lose or have to exit markets. The Euros will learn that change takes place at Apple’s pace, not at fascist bureaucrats’ pace.

         
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    Posted: 02 April 2007 08:42 AM #9

    Farlander wrote:
    “Very few people will even notice difference between a CD and AAC@128kbps, let alone between AAC@128kbps and AAC@256kbps, so there’s absolutely no legitimate reason to sell music at 256kbps: those, who _would_ hear the difference, would unlikely to buy music from iTunes and instead will more likely to buy a CD without any compression whatsoever. “

    Don’t be so sure - I can tell the difference between them with one bad ear and inexpensive speakers. Now, that is by comparison, playing one iTMS track versus the same track ripped using iTunes. So, while many may not be able to tell from casual listening, there remains, in my mind, a huge difference.

    Are these new tracks worth US $.30 more? Yes. Let’s see….Individual track purchase option, better bitrate, and DRM-free. Yes, indeed.

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    Posted: 02 April 2007 08:51 AM #10

    Re: I like the choice…

    [quote author=“Small White Car”]
    You will be able to at $0.30 per song.

    That is cool. I must of missed it.

    It’s been a busy Monday at work this morning and didn’t see that in the articles I’ve been quickly skimming between projects.

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  • Posted: 02 April 2007 09:20 AM #11

    Re: Not really

    [quote author=“Bosco”]Don’t bet on it. Music sales are in decline. Lightweight DRM has a very positive effect on sales, just as activation codes have a very positive impact on software sales. Neither are pirate proof (nor are they designed to be as the copyfight asshats would claim), but they do help honest people stay honest. The shareware industry established this with many experiments a decade ago.

    Oh I totally agree with you that DRM is largely the same as locking your car, if someone wants to steal your car and has 5 minutes (or far less if they’re good) alone with it they’ll steal it. If someone wants to steal music they will, no matter how high they build the wall. I’m mostly just against DRM like fairplay that limits what you can do with your files. What you’re describing, the shareware model, isn’t quite the same because once you register the app its yours to a greater extent. Also, I’m not even personally affected by fairplay that much because I keep all my hardware apple. Its just too bad that it takes me twice as long as it should to burn a mix cd for a friend with one or two protected tracks, unless the person I give the CD to immediately rips those tracks and starts selling cd singles of them on the street I don’t see how thats not fair use.

    And like I said before, as someone who worked in the “music industry” (albeit the bottom end) for a few years, I can’t think of a business that I want to die more, at least in the entertainment/media sector. Music should just be out there, and the artists paid directly for their more exceptional work, the way visual art should work. So I hope that sales keep going down, taking the big 3 (there are still 3 right? Its like the freakin Highlander with those guys) labels down. It isn’t like artists themselves will really be hurt; you can’t pirate a live performance, it will be just so sad if Metallica or Madonna or Jay-Z have to tour a bit more to support their lavish lifestyles. If anything it will force big name artists to step their game up, stop relying on their classic material and actually make new, good music. Heck, we might even see bands start playing way more “live-only” tracks, the inevitable bootlegs of which only serve to fuel fanatic listeners that much more.

    Once thats accomplished, just need to find a way to reactivate Eddie Vedder’s failed crusade to destroy Ticketmaster, probably be easier if the recording industry is in ruins already wink

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  • Posted: 02 April 2007 10:22 AM #12

    Re: Not really

    [quote author=“DaiMac”]

    Music should just be out there, and the artists paid directly for their more exceptional work, the way visual art should work…

    I’m afraid your bohemian/uptopian ideas of artistic recompense won’t fly in the real world. Ever hear the term ‘starving artist’? There will be millions of them in soup lines if you have your way. grin

    Seriously though, artists, like bakers and candlestick makers, have to eat, have a place to sleep, and raise little artists. Art is not something that easily coexists with a 9 to 5 lifestyle; either you are an artist or you are just playing at being one. So compensation for art needs to be a bit more consistent than getting “...paid directly for more exceptional work”.

    I don’t care for the current record label system because artists seem to get the smallest piece of the pie for the work they do while labels gobble down huge chunks in the name of ‘Operating Expenses’, but artist need to get paid for everything they offer.

    I support sites like Magnatune.com; they are a label, but are not evil. The artists get a lion’s share of the profit from the music that’s sold, there is no DRM, and you can download in one of a half dozen high quality formats.

    As for the EMI/Apple deal, glad they are finally catching up to Magnatune. Now bring on the Beatles. grin


    Vern Seward

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  • Posted: 02 April 2007 11:59 AM #13

    Re: Not really

    [quote author=“VSeward”]I’m afraid your bohemian/uptopian ideas of artistic recompense won’t fly in the real world. Ever hear the term ‘starving artist’? There will be millions of them in soup lines if you have your way. grin

    No offense Vern, but do you know any indie artists? I’ve got several friends who do this, a couple who are touring right now, not to mention my sister is about to graduate from college with a major in vocal music. Most of them are living on ramen noodles in their van as it is, so I don’t see how it would be any different. Also, with the exception of the top tier artists such as the ones I mentioned in the earlier post (Metallica, Madonna, etc) almost all artists make a couple of pennies per CD, let alone per $1.29 on iTunes, and don’t sell millions of copies to where that would actually add up to decent money. Real artists make money touring. What I’m proposing is to cut out the middleman, let the fans and the artists do business in a free market. If artists don’t make money they stop doing it, maybe withhold completed work from general release. I personally love going to small live shows, and if I like what I see I immediately buy the CD, usually 10 bucks or so, right from the band. I think the death of the traditional music industry would only increase the level of talent and intensity available at most shows on any given night.

    [quote author=“VSeward”]
    Seriously though, artists, like bakers and candlestick makers, have to eat, have a place to sleep, and raise little artists. Art is not something that easily coexists with a 9 to 5 lifestyle; either you are an artist or you are just playing at being one. So compensation for art needs to be a bit more consistent than getting “...paid directly for more exceptional work”.

    The analogy I was trying to make was to an artist’s show at a gallery or museum. No matter what your rep, with some exceptions, its the quality of the work itself that supposedly helps determine not just what you charge but if it sells. The way things work now, you have to navigate your way into a certain group of “buzz” artists to really make a big break, and then once you’ve compiled some “hits” and have convinced the label you’re worthwhile by having 2 or 3 great selling albums you can sit back and just turn out crap, the list of bands who have followed this pattern is far longer than I care to type. I would say a band can’t go on this way forever, but people still buy Aerosmith and Rolling Stones CDs so who knows.

    Like you yourself said, you either play around with it or it is your life, you can be a great band without your album going platinum, or owning 15 different mansions. Just as with professional athletes, I agree they deserve compensation but within reasonable limits. Just as Alex Rodriguez is not really worth 25 million a year, despite being an amazing player, U2 isn’t really worth 20 mil or whatever obscene amount it is they clear per show, at least not anymore. The vast majority of artists, the ones outside that top tier, wouldn’t notice if all the major labels crumbled as long as the club they’re playing in on friday stays open and they can sell a few CDs to supplement the gig fee.

    [quote author=“VSeward”]I don’t care for the current record label system because artists seem to get the smallest piece of the pie for the work they do while labels gobble down huge chunks in the name of ‘Operating Expenses’, but artist need to get paid for everything they offer.

    Even if it sucks? Seriously if a band that has previously released excellent cds, 8-15 tracks almost entirely good, then the next five albums have exactly 5 good songs? I should buy the album, supporting their mediocrity, rather than listening to the one good song a couple of times from a friend’s copy then deleting it? I think if you enjoy music you should pay for it, and while I’ve downloaded many songs from various services in the last 10 years you won’t find many in my library that I don’t either own that specific CD or one or more CDs by the same artist. By the same token, if an artist I previously respected makes a bad move (I’m looking at you, Common), I often drop them off my iPod and consider them on probation pending their next CD.

    I’ll also admit I have a much lower tolerance for useless, should-never-have-been-recorded music after working in a CD retailer for almost 4 years wink

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  • Posted: 02 April 2007 02:09 PM #14

    Re: Not really

    [quote author=“DaiMac”]

    No offense Vern, but do you know any indie artists?

    I know a few, and yes, they are starving for their art, but you know, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Those that are not starving market themselves in many different ways, so their income flow is dicey at best.

    Still, I think we are saying the same thing; toss or reduce the middleman.

    [quote author=“DaiMac”]

    The analogy I was trying to make was to an artist’s show at a gallery or museum. No matter what your rep, with some exceptions, its the quality of the work itself that supposedly helps determine not just what you charge but if it sells. The way things work now, you have to navigate your way into a certain group of “buzz” artists to really make a big break, and then once you’ve compiled some “hits” and have convinced the label you’re worthwhile by having 2 or 3 great selling albums you can sit back and just turn out crap, the list of bands who have followed this pattern is far longer than I care to type. I would say a band can’t go on this way forever, but people still buy Aerosmith and Rolling Stones CDs so who knows.

    Like you yourself said, you either play around with it or it is your life, you can be a great band without your album going platinum, or owning 15 different mansions. Just as with professional athletes, I agree they deserve compensation but within reasonable limits. Just as Alex Rodriguez is not really worth 25 million a year, despite being an amazing player, U2 isn’t really worth 20 mil or whatever obscene amount it is they clear per show, at least not anymore. The vast majority of artists, the ones outside that top tier, wouldn’t notice if all the major labels crumbled as long as the club they’re playing in on friday stays open and they can sell a few CDs to supplement the gig fee.

    Again, we agree; People ought to get paid what for producing something of worth, whether that’s a Mona Lisa or a bodacious jump shot. I think hot bans charge too much for concerts, but its the fault of the buying public; we pay it and so they charge it. These multi-million dollar salaries would disappear in a year if people refused to pay for the tickets. You know that won’t happen, so what can you do?

    [quote author=“DaiMac”]

    Even if it sucks?

    Yep, even if it sucks. What sucks to you may be pure gold to me. I’ll agree that there is such a thing as drivel, but you never know what people like. One minute I could be into Gregorian Chants, the next Gangsta Rap. It’s all about choice and I don’t want anyone telling me that the Brother Bartholomew Dizzy Masta P Flash’s new album, ’ Chant This M(*&(*F(&(^^*!’ is crap and I can’t listen to it.

    Still, I think we are closer than further apart in our thinking.

    Vern Seward

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    Posted: 02 April 2007 03:48 PM #15

    Re: Not really

    [quote author=“DaiMac”]The other thing, people like to talk about how high quality CDs are versus mp3/aac/etc, but making that gross generalization fails to account for the quality of the source material. Yes the format itself is of better quality, but if the recording itself was flawed or low quality that just means CDs reproduce those problems better. I remember when CDs were still a relatively new format, my dad was an early adopter. Just as with SA-CD and DVDa now, most of the available recordings were classical pieces. Such was the quality of the format that you could hear musicians coughing and every little missed note, as my dad was quixotically happy to point out.

    Also, I for one can’t wait for Brick and Mortar CD retailers to die. I worked at one for a long time, and no media corporation deserves oblivion more, with the possible exception of the music labels themselves.

    At least (name your brick-n-mortar) wasn’t Mobile-Exxon!!! Talk about Evil Empires. They (brick n mortar) had there place in time and still do marginally vis a vis high quality CD/SACD’s but the future will probably be web sourced. The Record Co.s sucked since year one…indentured slaves, payola etc. but as is the case, that paradigm is self imploding as the future slams on.
      As an early adopter of any superior sound format that comes along, I was there in the early 80’s when CD’s were introduced..matter of fact I was a drone at a major record co. here in Hollywood and I disagree with your assesment of CD’s.  Most weren’t classical at all. All kinds of music was being ripped 24/7 and pressed at any plant regardless of who owned what i.e. Capitol would contract Sony/CBS to press CD’s such was the clamor for the new format.
    Sure, garbage in garbage out applied, but so what? You never heard garbage so clean before!! Seems strange to justify a second class sound file based on crappy source material. The squeak in Ringo’s bass drum pedal on the 1st CD was kind of cool. That clarity was what made it hip. Very soon after Dire Straits was the first all digital from recording to mixing to mastering..Brothers in Arms and it sounded amazing. From then on source material by and large has been better than ever no matter what the end format.

      For me, it makes no difference if the sample rate or codec is a little better than another, it’s all compressed and falls apart when played on any serious sound system. For computer speakers and ear buds I suppose the sacrifice of sound for quantity/storage space might make sense, just not for me.
    I hope the future has enough pipeline to give the consumers whatever quality level they want in music.  peace 8-)

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