updated 09:25 am EDT, Fri July 21, 2006
DRM-free music from Yahoo!
Yahoo! is continuing to hope that labels will heed its call for DRM-free music, as it releases its first set of tracks in the MP3 format--without any DRM attached-- allowing users to purchase a personalized version of the new Jessica Simpson song "A Public Affair" from Yahoo! Music's Web Site for $1.99. While the price for the track, available for a large variety of personal names, is higher than the $0.99 charged by iTunes, the music is available in a format that can be played on any player, according to the company: "Dear digital consumer, even if you're not into Jessica Simpson, and you're not excited about spending $2 for a song, let me tell you, this is a bigger deal than you might think." Yahoo! has been publicly lobbying to convince record labels that they should be selling MP3s, saying that DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label, or consumer--and noting that DRM-free music is sold everyday on CDs. [corrected]
The blog continues by saying that DRM only helps technology companies lock consumers into a particular platform, alluding to Apple's own iPod/iTunes ecosystem which has dominated online digital music. iTunes has over 85 percent marketshare in the US, according to recent market research numbers. The blog argues that DRM has a high cost--resources that could be channeled elsewhere.
"[DRM] is very expensive for companies like Yahoo! to implement. We'd much rather have our engineers building better personalization, recommendations, playlisting applications, community apps, etc, instead of complex provisioning systems which at the end of the day allow you to burn a CD and take the DRM back off, anyway!" the blog reads.
"And on the consumer end there is certainly some discount built into that $0.99 download for the fact that you can burn a limited number of times, can't play it on your Squeezebox, can't DJ it with your DJ software, and can't make a movie out of it with iMovie? I certainly hope so. Un-DRM'd content is implicitly more valuable to a consumer."