Commentary

Apple + EMI = Brilliant

I give only kudos to Apple Computer and EMI Group for their announced deal Monday. Although I know the discussion of dropping DRM protection stems back Apple CEO Steve Jobs' suggestion earlier this year, I'm truly excited to see that a major label has signed on to the idea.

Finally, the big daddies heard the people and embraced the on-demand, in-control nature of our tech society. We don't want restrictions, we don't want boundaries - and we'll pay a premium for to keep it like that.

Then again, I speak on behalf of the music-loving, tech-sensitive nerds who truly get why this is such a big deal. As for other iTunes users, it's time for Apple to start educating.

On the whole, I don't expect a lot of people to pay a premium unless they know exactly what it is they're paying to receive, or what they can do with it after they buy it.

Sure, "higher quality" sounds great on paper, but how do you firmly illustrate to users why that jump in bitrate is such a big deal? How do you clearly explain that you can instantly convert these songs to MP3 without having to burn a CD, rip the CD and risk losing audio quality?

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I see this as the USB of the music industry. Music fanatics will easily argue that MP3 is not a great format for a true fan's experience. For those looking to just spin a tune, though, MP3 is still the standard. By allowing users to legally convert files to whatever format they like, it leaves the door open for future innovation and change. I don't want to pay for a copy-protected WMV song, only to be screwed when I buy an iPod after my Zune eats it. I don't want all copy-protected AAC files that don't work on my old-school Dell DJ.

I don't want to be restricted.

MP3, however crappy in quality, is the only compressed file that is widely accepted by multiple players and machines. Until this changes, such as when the industry agrees to adopt a standard file format, the only thing to lure consumers is the allowance of change.

Apple and EMI, thankfully, did just that.

1 comment about "Apple + EMI = Brilliant".
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  1. Greg Short, April 9, 2007 at 10:27 a.m.

    The next step is fair and logical pricing. I believe the DRM-free songs are priced at $1.29 each? At that price, your average album of about 12 songs would cost $15.48... that's more than a CD with all of the pretty packaging! High per-song prices encourage two things: 1) the death of the album, and 2) the death of legally downloaded music. Come on! Make the prices realistic. If we take the time to download the music and print the booklet, shouldn't we pay less for the album than we would in the stores?

    Another angle to my argument is this: is it really logical to charge the same price for a two-minute song and a six-minute song? Two albums, both running 45 minutes, could be drastically different in price.

    Though introducing DRM-free music downloads is a step in the right direction, can we now please work on the prices?

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