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UK retailers complain DRM is "stifling" music

updated 01:15 pm EST, Wed November 21, 2007

UK Retailers Against DRM

The insistence by major music labels on digital rights management (DRM) for online stores is having a damaging ripple effect on retail music shops as well, says the head of Britain's Entertainment Retailers Association, Kim Bayley. The executive notes that while physical stores still see high profile releases and seasonal increases, the hesitation by buyers leery of either restricted direct downloads or higher-priced CDs is neutering the effect. The holiday rush is coming later this year while even a record-setting album this month has failed to offset an 11 percent drop in CD sales this year, official UK charts say.

The ERA director refers to an unnamed study as evidence that customers are well aware of DRM and that four out of five will opt for an unguarded version of the same song whenever given the chance. Many of these potential customers turn to bootleg copies from peer-to-peer services when anxious about the formats of protected stores. This has "stifled" the growth of digital music sales and failed to make legal online music sales an alternative to piracy, Bayley says.

Music labels are still too cautious, she adds. While labels like EMI and Universal have offered some or all of their catalogs in unprotected formats, most still regard non-DRM songs as an experiment and show "resistance" to selling files in standard AAC or MP3 formats despite evidence that past practices have discouraged buyers. Only 150 million songs have been sold online in the UK over the past three years, roughly equating to a single song purchased per resident each year. To Bayley, this proves that listeners are largely unwilling to transfer their old CD buying habits to the Internet as long as copy protection is a burden.

"At the moment, [copy protection] just puts consumers off," she says.

by MacNN Staff




  1. ClevelandAdv

    Joined: Dec 1969



    DUH! Oh....I forgot the over-paid label execs are smarter than their customers.

  1. ender

    Joined: Dec 1969


    music decline

    I wonder, has anyone stopped to consider that the reason for the decline in music sales isn't because of piracy, DRM, or any of the other reasons music execs like to blame? And while I would argue that most new music today sucks (nothing worth buying), I think another reason is that music, in general, has too much competition in our lives. With xBoxes, Wiis, Playstations, cell phones, HDTVs, and the internet itself (blogs, social networking sites, etc), perhaps I've just got better things to do with my time and money.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Exactly how does DRM hurt the retailers. They just basically brush over that.

  1. bradpdx

    Joined: Dec 1969


    music vs. noise

    Poster ender suggests that we have more entertain items in our lives that demand attention, saying we have "better things to with my time and money".

    I agree that there is whole lot more media noise in our lives these days of all sorts. Games, internet, messages, cell phones, etc. I wouldn't call them "better", just "more". There are only so many hours in a day and you can fill them as you choose.

    It is true that I still buy a lot of music, though you will find very little of the current bestsellers in my collection.

    In order to do what I like, I elect to cut out HDTV (no cable for me), games (no Playstation or Wii, and I remove all games from my computers) and other distractions. Lately I disable my email reminders as well so I don't get interuppted every few minutes. It can wait.

    If I didn't do all this, I couldn't really find enough bandwidth for music listening, practice and performance.

    As to DRM (the original focus of the article) - it does impede sales in comparison to what it could be. While I do have some DRM'ed music from ITS, I will always jump at the chance to get my music unlocked for the right price.

  1. nhmlco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Always follow the money.

    Umm, as near as I can tell, CD sales are down (duh), and DRM is stiffling sales from "anxious" customers (okay), and because of that said customers are turning to bootleg copies from peer-to-peer services.

    Sorry, but the later doesn't follow. As near as I can tell there are plenty of rationalizations as to why someone may go P2P (greedy corps, DRM, not XYZ format), but by and large they're simply too cheap to pay for what they enjoy.

    Always follow the money.

  1. miawj

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bare-faced EMIers

    It's always amusing to see EMI cited as a pioneer of DRM-free downloads when they are one of the worst culprits for hobbling their hard-copy CDs. On four occasions I have had to take EMI albums back to the shop because their albums turned out to not be audio CDs and unplayable.

    A pox on both their houses. (The publishers and the downloaders.)

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