Just An Online Minute... Toward A More User-Friendly Music Format
The track, "A Public Affair," by Jessica Simpson, is priced at $1.99--twice as much as most digital music. In its music blog, Yahoo said the high price isn't just for the MP3 format, but also because the track is "personalized," meaning you can configure the track so that Simpson mentions your name--a feature that, frankly, caused some head-scratching among MediaPost staff.
Regardless, the MP3 format is clearly a change for the better. While sales of digital music have grown quickly in the last several years, the inability to easily transfer tracks with built-in DRM is an annoyance at best.
Yahoo's music blogger agrees. "Our position is simple: DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label (who are selling DRM-free music every day--the Compact Disc), or consumer, the only people it adds value to are the technology companies who are interested in locking consumers to a particular technology platform," stated the blogger in a post about the Simpson track.
Yahoo isn't the only online music store to think selling tracks in MP3 is a good idea. EMusic has a whole library of MP3 tracks available for download--though not from major labels.
But to date, the major record labels have been extremely slow to embrace the Web--which they still view as a facilitator of piracy. In fact, rather than make online tracks more like hard-copy CDs, they've attempted to make CDs more like what's sold online, by adding in DRM restrictions. One ill-fated effort by Sony BMG resulted in more than half a dozen lawsuits, including cases by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and state of Texas, accusing the label of installing "spyware," in part because the CDs contained code that changed some settings in consumers' hard drives and transmitted information about users back to Sony.
Hopefully, the Simpson track will at least be a first step toward the wide availability of MP3s online.