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EMI May Sell Entire Collection as DRM-less MP3s

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the and-away-we-go dept.

Music 188

BobbyJo writes "According to the Chicago Sun-Times, EMI has been pitching the possibility of selling its entire music collection to the public in MP3 form ... without Digital Rights Management protections. According to the article, several other major music companies have considered this same route, but none as far as EMI. The reasons, of course, have nothing to do with taking a moral stand; EMI wants to compete with Apple. 'The London-based EMI is believed to have held talks with a wide range of online retailers that compete with Apple's iTunes. Those competing retailers include RealNetworks Inc., eMusic.com, MusicNet Inc. and Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks. People familiar with the matter cautioned that EMI could still abandon the proposed strategy before implementing it. A decision about whether to keep pursuing the idea could come as soon as today.'"

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Recent EMI News (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947468)

First off,

EMI has been pitching the possibility of selling its entire music collection to the public in MP3 form ...
Not quite, they're looking to sell it to a service. If my tax dollars were paying for all of EMI's music to enter public domain, I would imagine a lot of people wouldn't like that idea.

Recently, I learned that EMI will be allowing music videos to stream freely to UK, German & French users through AOL. [webpronews.com]

Also--possibly in relation to this--EMI's top legal counsel, Charles Ashcroft, has stepped down [thelawyer.com] after ten years with the company. There's been a lot of internal restructuring [cmj.com] so I wonder if these no-DRM propositions are on the way in or on the way out.

From the article linked above,

EMI, which is the world's largest independent music company, reported revenue of £867.9m and £62.7m profit for the six months ending 30 September last year.
I'm assuming that those profits are primarily music based so what amount would you have to offer the world's largest independent music company to be able to release their MP3s without any form copy protection? It's difficult to consider anyone being able to afford this.

Re:Recent EMI News (4, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947696)

Somebody has to do it but first, the music "sharing" (pronounced "stealing") problem still needs to be solved or EMI will be very broke, very fast. I don't think the "honor system" has been completely worked out (or is it "honour system"?). Second, I wonder how much one of the majors would charge for a lifetime, unencumbered digital music license? Otherwise, this is a very exciting development. Competing with Apple would be less a factor since the iPod is the cash cow (not the iTunes store) and the iPod is an MP3 player first and foremost.

Re:Recent EMI News (5, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947854)

To get the honor system to work, they need to make it very easy to buy music. Easier than finding it for free. People will sill 'borrow' from friends, but if it is easy enough to find and buy music through them, then most people won't make the effort to find it for a lower price.

Re:Recent EMI News (5, Interesting)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948072)

To get the honor system to work, they need to make it very easy to buy music. Easier than finding it for free. People will sill 'borrow' from friends, but if it is easy enough to find and buy music through them, then most people won't make the effort to find it for a lower price.

Exactly. Personally, I'll happily pay to go to an official service, with high quality mp3 downloads, where I can quickly search by artist, song-title, album, etc. and find the exact track I'm looking for, know that what I'm getting is what is actually labeled, know what the quality of the file is, etc. As long as the files aren't DRM'd and the price is reasonable. Why waste time with p2p networks where you never know exactly what you're getting, download times are inconsistent, etc?

Hopefully if the labels go through with this, they follow the "long tail" approach and put plenty of obscure tracks up as well... demos, b-sides, live recordings, unreleased tracks, etc. Give music fans what they're looking for and they'll pay (well, some of us will anyway).

Re:Recent EMI News (2, Interesting)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948566)

If there weren't people providing quality releases to BitTorrent, where the tracks are encoded using a good encoder, tagged correctly, including artwork, etc., then you'd have more of a point. BitTorrent is great for 99% of the music you want to hear. Even the obscure stuff is available, and download speeds are more than adequate. If it's not on BitTorrent, it might not even be on the online services anywhere.

Re:Recent EMI News (4, Insightful)

Bright Apollo (988736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949068)

The translation of this concept from Russian to English, of course, is "Allofmp3"

-BA

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

hachete (473378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949132)

Exactly. Personally, I'll happily pay to go to an official service, with high quality mp3 downloads, where I can quickly search by artist, song-title, album, etc. and find the exact track I'm looking for, know that what I'm getting is what is actually labeled, know what the quality of the file is, etc. As long as the files aren't DRM'd and the price is reasonable. Why waste time with p2p networks where you never know exactly what you're getting, download times are inconsistent, etc?

Hopefully if the labels go through with this, they follow the "long tail" approach and put plenty of obscure tracks up as well... demos, b-sides, live recordings, unreleased tracks, etc. Give music fans what they're looking for and they'll pay (well, some of us will anyway).
I'd happily buy most of my MP3 collection again if I knew I was getting the following:

1. Consistent, high-grade quality recording
2. Full Metadata on each track.

And i'd probably like to buy into other services like film-previews, guitar-tabs, words, scores etc. Imagine a fully-searchable database with that amount of meta-data. Google would go nuts to do something like that. The linked advertising would be a freaking gold-mine.

I've noticed that my militancy - as measured by how much and exactly what I download - has gotten worse the more the *AA stupity has gone on. In the beginning, it was stuff I'd already bought. Now it's a little wider.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

dirk (87083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948874)

I think the only reason this is even being talked about is that the they don't have to rely on the honor system as much. P2P has been slowly dying for the average person for a while. With music being available to purchase online, and the crap quality of downloads from most P2P services (viruses, fake, files, mislabeled songs, etc) most people have moved away from P2P. BitTorrent is the one exception, but that is still more of a geek tool that the average person has no clue about. P2P certainly isn't dead, but it has become a big enough burden that the average person doesn't mess with it anymore, so labels can consider selling DRM-free files knowing the the average person can't get them easily.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949158)

So make the honour system work. They have to make good music and people have to care about the bands enough to buy the music.
You have to sell the band not the music.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

SenseiLeNoir (699164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949246)

The best way to satisfy the both sides of the argument, is to provide a Digitally signed MP3, or watermarked MP3 to the user who purchased the song. The watermark, and/or the digital signature will be "damaged" on an attempt to recode or change format.

The files are still MP3's, and are playable on any system. It can be backed up whole, and will satisfy any fair use clauses.

A file can then be validated as genuine by checking the prescense of the signature/watermark. If the watermark/signature is valid, then it can be checked if the person possessing the file, is the original purchaser.

For those who rip songs froma CD onto their players, and therefore may not have the signature/watermark, they can just present their original CD.

The only issue that needs to be solved is the possibility of "Resale" where a person can re-sell their downloaded track, just like they would resell a CD. The watermark woudl still show the original holder, and coudl cause liability issues with the new purchaser.

Re:Recent EMI News (3, Insightful)

Given M. Sur (870067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947890)

Somebody has to do it but first, the music "sharing" (pronounced "stealing") problem still needs to be solved or EMI will be very broke, very fast

How do you figure? They've been making quite a profit selling CDs which are easily transferable to mp3, so why would also selling mp3s hurt that profit? If anything it'd help.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948838)

...why would also selling mp3s hurt that profit?

Here's my leading theory as to why selling MP3s and selling CDs is different: Most people who have bought CDs used them in a CD player. As pervasive as portable music players are becoming, I'm sure the majority of individual CDs have never been ripped. Slashdotters don't count as a majority (sorry). I get that data from the cross section of people I know with large CD collections who don't own a DMP/iPod. The ones who do own an iPoddish device maybe rip a CD or three and the new stuff gets bought from an iTunesesque place. (ok, they're ALL iPods) Those are the CD purchasers music executives like. That will change in the future - there won't be any CDs to rip (or press or ship or store or take up shelf space).

On the other end of the spectrum are people who "share" music. Everyone who has ever been on Hotline, Carracho etc knows that to get music, you have to upload music. A culture was rapidly born where kids all over the globe pooled their money and bought a handful of CDs to be shared among tens of thousands of users. Kids (and minor adults) would heed the "wish list", make a [relatively] huge investment in a CD to upload so they could download a dozen other CDs. Those were all lost sales and that's the difference. Maybe not all sales were "lost" since these same kids couldn't afford to buy all the CDs anyway.

Unencumbered MP3s will allow a continuance of this very same activity except there won't be any physical media to rip first. Plus, only the cherry tracks need be purchased, not the whole CD worth. Very economical that way. It's going on now but the demise of DRM or unstored streaming will remove a barrier, enabling a return to those seminal days of Napster sharing. The Majors know that and I'm certain that each purchased file will contain a tag marking the purchaser (like a watermark) but that will be instantly defeated and stripped away.

Waddayathink?

Re:Recent EMI News (3, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948214)

Currently, nearly all music from EMI is available on CDs anyways. So there's no "sharing" issue, because it's just as easy to pirate someone's MP3 they ripped as to pirate someone's MP3 they bought. Therefore, removing DRM from downloadable music does nothing to most piracy.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948408)

"the music "sharing" (pronounced "stealing") problem still needs to be solved or EMI will be very broke, very fast"

Protectionism at its best. EMI is going to go broke because what they do (find, promote, and distribute music) is done better and at lower cost by middle schoolers in their spare time.

Re:Recent EMI News (2, Insightful)

punkr0x (945364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948584)

One can already get all the free music they want from EMI artists. This won't change the illegal file sharing side of things; maybe make it a little easier, but the music is already out there so what's the difference. I think it is a fantastic move to cater to what the consumers want, rather than telling them what they want.

Re:Recent EMI News (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948776)

Somebody has to do it but first, the music "sharing" (pronounced "stealing") problem still needs to be solved or EMI will be very broke, very fast.

Why?

DRM-less music has existed for longer than its DRM-encumbered counterpart. The web, Napster (v1), Kazaa, AllOfMP3 all made every album ever released fairly easy to get free or cheap, without any DRM.

And yet... The music industry still manages billions of dollars in sales per year.

How can that happen? It only takes one copy, right?



What the RIAA, MPAA, and apparently you need to understand, most people consider themselves basically honest. People want to "do the right thing", and they want to support their favorite artists.

People do not, however, like getting "burned" buying an album of crap with one overhyped single on it.

You basically have two kinds of music downloaders... The first group (which I consider the vast majority) downloads a few tracks to check them out, and if they enjoy the music, they'll buy the album. The music industry should court these people, not take them to court, because they count as customers (if they don't get too pissed off at the antipiracy measures put in their way). The second group will download anything and everything the can, and wouldn't dream of paying for music. You can fairly call them parasites, but their behavior (and how little they actually buy) wouldn't change in the least if the MP3 fairy came along and made it physically impossible to pirate music. So, as much as the industry may hate them, they have no effect on sales, whether given free reign to download, or whether DRM eventually proves effective in stopping them.

I would actually add to that one more pseudocategory, the "potential" customers... These people fall into the first group but currently can't afford to actually buy much music. Many college students fall into this category. Although they may superficially look like group #2 at their present station in life, in a decade they will start replacing their collection with legally obtained copies, to the great profit of the music industry.



So, does the industry need to address the "problem" of try-before-you-buy, or embrace it? Since we don't already all have a complete collection of every song ever made, despite the ready availability of them, I'd say "no". This problem exists only in the closets and under the beds of media company CEOs.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949112)

The music "sharing" issue is irrelevant to EMI's selling no DRM music. I guarantee you that you can go out and find any EMI artist on some P2P network. However, if I now can download a guaranteed lossless quality music stream at a reasonable price without DRM, there'd be no qualms here about buying it online.

Note that MP3 != lossless, thus MP3s online are of little value to me. They're merely teasers for getting a CD, or not.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

aralin (107264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949134)

What are you talking about? I get a CD, rip it to mp3 or I buy an mp3 in digital store. Where is the difference? If EMI is not going very broke from selling 90% of its music on CD, then I see no reason, why they should go broke with selling the rest as mp3. What you say is not insightful, it is repeating the logical fallacy that brought us here!

Re:Recent EMI News (5, Interesting)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947712)

> If my tax dollars were paying for all of EMI's music to enter public domain

Who the hell is talking about that? You're reading things into it that aren't there.

On a different note, if EMI is seriously considering selling unencumbered music, I would suggest they buy allofmp3's back-end software, or they develop something along similar lines along with a similar sales model, except of course more realistic pricing that hopefully actually compensates the artists. I personally consider up to around $5 an album for 128Kbps MP3 an acceptable price, any higher than than and downloads almost completely lose their attraction. Future pricing models simply HAVE to take into consideration the quality-per-buck aspect, otherwise it won't fly long term. Paying $10 an album for considerably lower quality than what you get on a CD from Target or Wal-Mart at the same price simply won't fly. Besides, offering a tiered pricing model also gives them the chance to zero in on the sweet spot of the market.

Re:Recent EMI News (4, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947908)

I wouldn't pay 5$ for a 128kbps mp3 album when I could down 192kbps VBR for free. 128kbps mp3 isn't even worth listening to, unless you're into poetry/other spoken material

I would however pay £5 for a high- or very high- quality mp3 album.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948366)

> I wouldn't pay 5$ for a 128kbps mp3 album when I could down 192kbps VBR for free.

We're not talking about pirating here, of course free will always beat non-free. We're talking about what a sensible pricing model would be so that a large percentage of people would buy instead of copy. And no, I don't consider 128K MP3 the bee's knee either, it was just an example. Somehing more palatable for $5 might be 160K WMA or equivalent. My point was to offer a tiered pricing model so users could make their own quality-vs-price trade-off decisions.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

aclarke (307017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948714)

I'm with you on that. When I can get an actual, real-live "CD quality" download, or better yet, one ripped at an even higher bitrate from the master if it's available, I'll happily spend money on downloads. High-quality downloads without the physical CD and case are worth about as much to me as a purchased CD, which is to say $10-13 for a CD I really want. Which is why I buy most of my CDs used.

Seriously though, if I could get at least CD-quality music at iTunes pricing without DRM, I'd spend money on that. In the meantime, I'll keep downloading music off P2P to try things out, and then buying the music I like off Amazon, eBay or from a local used CD store.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

byolinux (535260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948812)

eMusic.com then. 15 quid a month for 90 or 75 downloads (they're changing from 90 to 75) - you can get 25 free downloads.

http://www.emusic.com?fref=700038 [emusic.com] (referrer link - gives me 50 free downloads if you like it)

"actually compensates artists"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948250)

What is the per-track cost for compulsory licensed music in the US? About 6 cents (6.1c IIRC).

Compared with allofmp3's 5c per mp3 compressed download, there isn't much difference, is there. If you buy a FLAC recording, you pay more. Just because your artists' royalties arent being collected by his agent isn't allofmp3's fault.

Re:Recent EMI News (2, Insightful)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948984)

How about they just put their music on eMusic or style their store after Magnatune? On the eMusic side, they encode using lame --preset fast standard (or something similar, perhaps they truly do mean 192k VBR and use lame --abr 192 -q 2 or similar; however, VBR according to LAME is only available with the --preset [standard,extreme,etc.] and -V n [--new-vbr] options), which is definitely a high-quality MP3 file. On the other hand, Magnatune offers your choice of (each choice is in a zip file because you buy whole albums there) FLAC, WAV (probably with CUE sheets, I don't remember since I don't use the WAV downloads), LAME VBR MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and 128k MP3 (the sample quality; these downloads are free and are available under the CC by-sa-nc 2.5 licence IIRC).

If, however, EMI decides to go with a constant 128k for their material, they're shooting themselves in the foot. 128k MP3 (almost never encoded using a good MP3 encoder like LAME) is what's available on Kazaa, LimeWire, and all the other popular P2P networks. If they can at least do as good (if not better) than the MP3 scene rules (EAC + LAME fast standard), and combine that with a good [online] interface with tons of music, they're golden.

For instance, if EMI decides to try and compete with quality and price, I will definitely buy the latest Iron Maiden album right off the bat even though I've already gotten it on the high seas.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949364)

"How about they just put their music on eMusic"

Please, no. Then I'd have to start riaa-radar filtering eMusic artists to avoid EMI.

The jackbooted thugs of the RIAA may be doing what they can to corrupt the politicians, but I'll be damned if I'm going to help finance them.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

subsolar2 (147428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949422)

Actually eMusic would be better since they already have the back end setup and all they sell is unencumbered MP3s. Most of the music is encoded at 192Kbps VBR and sounds good for MP3s and they have Nettwerk and a few other labels selling unrestricted music on there. There are also alot of punk there if your into that.

On thing I'm not a fan of is eMusic's subscription model, yes you can buy booster packs got get more songs than your monthly allotment.

Re:Recent EMI News (5, Interesting)

antonyb (913324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947724)

The internal restructuring is on the back of extremely bad financial results. Its also worth noting that since the CEO and CFO stepped down, a deal has been struck with a Chinese ISP [emigroup.com] which comes off the back of a failed legal action by EMI to sue the same ISP for linking to illegal downloads. EMI internally, believe it or not, has a fairly enlightened view of mp3 & DRM, but have been hampered by their old-fashioned board of directors. I think they're likely to be the first to ditch DRM and sell unfettered music downloads.


ant.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947744)

I'm assuming that those profits are primarily music based so what amount would you have to offer the world's largest independent music company to be able to release their MP3s without any form copy protection? It's difficult to consider anyone being able to afford this.
No one needs to offer EMI anything. Even in the summary, it says that EMI wants to drop DRM in order to compete with Apple's iTunes. Since iTMS sells everything in DRM form, they're hoping (rightly so) that people will get their music from someone that does not do DRM -- or more accurately, someone that will allow them to play their music on whatever player they choose, move it to their home stereo, etc.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947912)

". If my tax dollars were paying for all of EMI's music to enter public domain," - that sentence makes no sense at all. this has nothing to do with your tax dollars. also, you think there isn't 67 million pounds to be made in selling mp3's?? pull your head out of your arse ok. i've never purchased anything from apples crappy store, but drm free mp3s in high quality? hell yes i'd buy up $100 worth right away.

Re:Recent EMI News (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948536)

I'm assuming that those profits are primarily music based so what amount would you have to offer the world's largest independent music company to be able to release their MP3s without any form copy protection?


They've been releasing music for years now without copyprotection and still do. It's called a music CD. DRM does not protect music from pirates, it merely makes it more annoying for customers, hopefully to point that they'll end up buying the same music again.

Tax Dollars (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948634)

Oh I'm ok if it's your tax dollars- just as long as it's not mine.

I have to poop a bit. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947476)

Just a bit. Please don't mod me down.

Re:I have to poop a bit. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947556)

So that's what the evil bit's for.

Someone has to be first (5, Insightful)

gravesb (967413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947490)

One of the big four has to be first. Maybe if one takes that big first step, the rest will realize the folly of DRM and follow.

Re:Someone has to be first (1)

Duds (100634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947728)

It'll be interesting, because Jobbs has the cheek to claim that the itunes library is ALL DRM because he has to go for consistency and that's why they sell some stuff DRM'd that emusic doesn't.

So.... what if one of the big 4 removes DRM, Apple is faced with the choice of either a) admitting they were lying all along and selling EMI stuff without DRM or b) Putting DRM straight back on.

Re:Someone has to be first (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948390)

Who says EMI's going to sell it DRM-free through iTMS? The "consistency" Apple needs to maintain is both to keep the end-user process uncomplicated (more of the "PR-friendly" reason, but it does hold some water), and to keep their labels happy-- no one label wants to choose between dropping DRM or having a visible lack of value when placed next to less-restricted files in the same store.

tip (0, Offtopic)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947494)

Aim for a decent rate with a good encoder? lame with q=2, 256 kbit/sec joint stereo should be nice.

None of this q=uber_fast 64 kbit/sec stereo please.

Tom

Re:tip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947524)

If by "lame with q=2, 256 kbit/sec" you mean "take all of my money" I'm sure they'll do it.

Re:tip (1, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947558)

The sense, your comment does not make.

I'd buy legit tracks [as opposed to just massively hording ripped cds] if I was assured they were encoded to sound reasonably well.

I'm sure 128kbit/sec AAC sounds good on an iPod, but a home stereo with a decent speakers requires a bit more fidelity than that.

Tom

FLAC (1)

Otis2222222 (581406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948032)

How about making tracks available in FLAC or some other lossless format? Right now, I am not aware of any service anywhere that makes lossless tracks available at any price. If I can buy a cd for $10-15 brand new with art and liner notes, I should be able to buy an equivalent product online. To me, that means at the bare minimum lossless encoded tracks without DRM.

Oh, and by the way, how about giving me a discount on the albums while you're at it seeing as how there is virtually distribution cost (only bandwidth is the cost) and I'm not getting a physical product that will last for years if properly taken care of. That should also be worth a bit of a discount.

Re:FLAC (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948102)

bandwidth costs?

A 7 min track with FLAC usually gets around 54MiB insize. At 256kbps it would be 13.5MiB. Multiply that difference by a billion and you can see why they don't sell FLACs.

I'm not saying they shouldn't have the option, just that it should cost more because it does take more resources to transmit.

Tom

Movie downloads (1)

Otis2222222 (581406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948246)

I see your point, but what about the economics of legal movie downloads? Business models for burn-to-DVD downloads are ramping up and those are much, much larger. A 4.7 GB DVD movie is equivalent to 87 of your 54 Meg FLAC tracks. Bandwidth is getting cheaper and cheaper these days anyway.

Re:Movie downloads (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948318)

all about the distribution model.

Get your evil ISPs to mirror movie collections and download locally. The way I see it, if we have huge monopolies for telco/isp/etc they might as well be useful.

Tom

Re:FLAC (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949162)

Right now, I am not aware of any service anywhere that makes lossless tracks available at any price.

bleep.com.

somarecords.com.

Re:FLAC (1)

DarkBlack (5773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949366)

I have been happy with Magnatune [magnatune.com] in the past. They offer audio in several formats.

Where's the *IAA and MS in all this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947514)

Just wait until the RIAA hears about this. Mind you, Steve Ballmer might go back to throwing chairs again too...the poor Zune. HAHA!

Compression (4, Interesting)

skriefal (267794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947520)

This is a good first step. Now start selling the tracks without lossy compression! 99 cents per track for FLAC downloads and even *I* might be interested.

Re:Compression (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947652)

I think it is a good step. Selling MP3s for cheap online, and selling FLAC on CDs is a win/win for everyone. We'd get the "songs" we want for our iPods, and the "albums" we want for our audiophile rigs.

Re:Compression (4, Funny)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948618)

An average audiophile will find a FLAC tune worse than the equivalent CD.

Re:Compression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948806)

You sir, are an idiot [sourceforge.net] .

Re:Compression (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948952)

That wooshing sound is the joke going right over your head.

Re:Compression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17949252)

No, it's the tumble weed drifting past...

Re:Compression (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947734)

Hmm, I just have to pop your bubble - any sampled music is lossy... ;)

Re:Compression (1, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947938)

Any recorded music is lossy. If it's digital, then the loss is determined by the bit rate and the compression algorithm. If it's analogue then it's determined by the bandwidth of the underlying substrate. The question is, how much loss are you willing to accept? I have a few CDs where I can hear loss from the original analogue recording, and some where I can hear loss from the digital transfer. Most of my CDs, however, are a sufficiently close approximation of lossless that my ears can't tell the difference. Most MP3s are not. AAC and Vorbis are for most music at a reasonable bit rate, but both have issues with certain kinds of instruments.

I would rather have something like FLAC because then it's future-proof. For now, I would probably transcode it to AAC to conserve battery life while portable (disk access is expensive). In the future, I can transcode it to something else without having any additional loss.

Re:Compression (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948000)

I am willing to accept zero loss. Until the music industry can get its act together and have the band play a concert at my house for 99 cents a song, I refuse to pay. Those of us with high-end auditoriums in our garages don't want any of this lossy sampled stuff. Good day to you, sir!

Re:Compression (1)

csplinter (734017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948416)

I wont be interest until tracks are 15 cents a piece in FLAC format. Then I could afford to go legal, I would probably buy $500 worth of music in the first week. Thing is, I love having a huge variety of music, I want to have tracks that I hardly ever listen to just so I can if I'm in the mood. Right now, if I tried to purchase my mp3 collection I calculate it would cost me 54% of my yearly earnings at 1$ a song. Some of my collection is worth 1$ a song, about 1% of it. The rest of it, I probably don't hear even once a month. I'm sure half of the songs in my collection wont be listened to in any given 6 months. There is no way I could possibly afford the luxury of legitametly owning all the songs I want just in case I want to listen to them once in a long while. When I can afford this luxury I will be the music industries model customer.

I think they'll be pleasantly surprised (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947536)

I have never bought online music simply for the DRM. If this is available (at a good bit rate)
and the price is fair, there are a lot of songs I've wanted to buy. I only liked one or two
songs from the album so I was never going to go buy the whole CD anyway.

They'll get a bigger suprise than that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17949026)

I'd really like to get all those albums I always wanted, but my local CD store just never had. The only thing that stopped me was I'd have to get locked into a crappy DRM laden store to do it.

It won't be like when people bought CDs to replace Vinyl, it will be different, people will have access to a much wider catalogue, and they'll backfill their purchases with all those CDs that were never in the shops when they had the money to buy them.

Dear EMI, (3, Insightful)

kirun (658684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947648)

You want my money? You sign up with eMusic and so will I. Deal?

To paraphrase Johhny Dangerously... (3, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947672)

"My father sold his entire music collection to the public in MP3 form without Digital Rights Management restrictions... ONCE."

Re:To paraphrase Johhny Dangerously... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947844)

AllofMP3.com sells it over and over and over.

So can EMI.

Re:To paraphrase Johhny Dangerously... (4, Insightful)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947852)

"My father sold his entire music collection to the public in MP3 form without Digital Rights Management restrictions... ONCE."
It's not like the music sold with DRM doesn't wind up on pirate sites anyways. All it takes is one person to convert a song to mp3 and it's all over the net. Might as well give your paying customers the benefits of mp3.

That makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948040)

Why ONCE? Why not zero times, given the music is also on P2P for free?

If you're saying you sell 1 copy without DRM and thats it everyone copies it, well dude have you check out those shiny discs they call CDs? Have you noticed they don't contain DRM?

Also have you check out what the independants are doing, they're selling like ONCE per customer. WITHOUT THE DRM.

Wait a minute, I'm confused (2, Funny)

zuvembi (30889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947726)

I thought I heard someone say something about one of the music majors actually wanting my money. Well, you know, without tying me down with a bunch of crappy DRM. Which I can't use anyway since I'm dumb enough to be a Linux user.

I'm confused, and I think my wallet's a little frightened. I might actually be able to spend money on new music. How strange.

MP3 eh? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947778)

Cue the complaints about advocates of open source formats, but: As long as unencumbered MP3 is going to be used, why not use a format you don't have to pay to use? Ogg or Flac please. Although admittedly asking for full blown flac might be a bit scary to them, how bout some 160 or 192kps ogg files? I'd be totally groovy with that. It might force Apple to implement the fixed point Ogg decoder on their ipods, which would be great.

MP3 is the perfect first step (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948414)

The big step is dropping DRM, and MP3 is the best first step as it is the only one most people have heard of, and the one that will generate most publicity. Later, they can add support for other formats.

Mod Parent Up (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949302)

All you people need to maybe STFU for a second. They're offering an inch and you're turning your noses up because you want a mile. I say take the inch, wait for the **AA to get comfortable with it, then ask for another inch. Or a foot. But just like moving a wheel, the hardest part by FAR is getting it from the standstill to being in motion. Let's just get that first, and -then- we can worry about setting the land speed record.

They might, but I doubt it (I hope for it) (1)

TheAxeMaster (762000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949420)

How many players out there will even support ogg vorbis files? Not many. Just about anything made by cowon does (I have a U3, that's why I bought it) but those are all I know. And they don't even support ogg ID3 tag browsing yet. How do you establish the demand for a file format?

Re:MP3 eh? (1)

iampiti (1059688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949344)

Well, because like it or not MP3 is the most extended format among digital portable players.
I know many of you think the ipod is all that matters but the ipod can play mp3, so can the creative players, the samsungs, the sandisks... and all of those bad quality chinese players.

So by AllofMp3.com (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947870)

Maybe they should buy AllofMp3.com, because that store was/is rivalling iTunes in the UK and that is despite being it on an iffy legal basis and requiring giving your credit card details to a dodgy Russian outfit.

I know the common perception is that they shoveled product at dirt cheap prices, but the prices were not that cheap (albums cost around $3) and they were easily able to get the sale price EVEN THOUGH THE P2P NETWORKS HAD THE PRODUCT FOR FREE
  Plus they were working on download managers etc. and have the experience of running a major store.

EMI could sell their own product through their own store (allofmp3 mk2) and make their own money and even sell it to iPod users.

Of, for crying out loud! (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17947932)

"Currently, music purchased at Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, for example, is wrapped in Apple's proprietary version of Digital Rights Management technology known as ''FairPlay'' and can only be played on the company's iPod devices."

For crying out loud! iTunes music purchase can be played on more than just Apple's iPods. I'm able to play them on (among my numerous Mac computers) my HP PC desktop (not made by Apple and not an iPod). I'm sure there are many people playing iTunes songs on a wide-variety of computers from various manufacturers as well as some people even playing them on cell phones (not made by Apple) that run iTunes. Is it really too much to ask for the media to try to remotely get their facts straight?

Re:Of, for crying out loud! (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949398)

So it will play on your iPod and...on computers which may as well be bolted to the floor / desk for all the difference it makes. I don't care *how* light my laptop is, I will not attempt to attach it to my belt while I go for a jog.

Too late (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17947984)

Now that I've been a pirate for more than a decade, I don't care anymore. I'm used to getting what I want, when I want, with very little effort and no restrictions on use. If you can compete with that, you still have to beat the price. Well, not beat the price perhaps, but anything higher than $0.1 per song is not even considered competitive, and that price keeps falling. Get to it, time is working against you.

Sounds like FUD to relax the masses. (1)

GallaherMike (987682) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948018)

EMI would sell music without DRM to compete with Apple (ITMS). Why would they do this? They have a workable deal with Apple, and if they believe the RIAA of which they are a member they need DRM to combat all of us fair use advocates (read dirty rotten pirates). Even if they did sell non DRM music. They would have to get others to do the same thing to really compete with the selection that ITMS has. And if they are not happy with the Apple deal that means they are planning on charging more for the music. Kow much more are you really planning on paying for non DRM music?

Also, didn't Apple (Steve Jobs) say last week that they would sell music without DRM if the record companies would let them. Don't get me wrong, it is NOT in Apple's best interest to sell non DRM music from ITMS so I think Jobs statement was more of an excuse. finger pointing if you will. "We would do what you guys want if they would let us" sort of thing.

This whole conversation sounds like a marketing spin version of she said, she said. "We both have the best interests of the consumer in mind..." As long as we control the market. And as long as we can squeeze every penny out of each and every consumer. Then ..."we really are good people".

What a load of crap.

Because More DRM = Fewer Sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948456)

"EMI would sell music without DRM to compete with Apple (ITMS). Why would they do this?"

Because iTunes is a flop. I know it doesn't seem like a flop, it's only clear it's a flop when you compare it to the potential market. They've sold less than 2 albums worth of music to each iPod MUSIC ENTHUSIAST (enthusiastic enough to buy an iPod but not the music?). Sure it looks successful next to Zune marketplace, where the DRM's so restrictive, it gets applied when you squirt your own works... but that just shows you that more DRM = fewer sales.

So what is holding people back from buying from iTunes? I can think of a 3 letter acronym that sums it up, DRM.

If you bought an iPod, and music from iTunes, and knew that forever and ever you would have to buy an iPod because the music you bought won't play on anything else, would you be happy to buy? It's not difficult to see why the iPod is a huge success, but iTunes relatively unsuccessful.

Of course it is in Apple's best interest (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949166)

EMI would sell music without DRM to compete with Apple (ITMS). Why would they do this?

Because they want to control the price. Specifically, they want to sell new "hot" tracks at $2.99 and older ones at around the current price. Apple is being mean and insisting $1 per song is enough.

Don't get me wrong, it is NOT in Apple's best interest to sell non DRM music from ITMS

How does Apple not benefit in every way from a huge surge in online sales that DRM free sales would bring? More music means more iPods. More music for people that have iPods means buying larger iPods (to a more limited extent). When Apple is making only a penny or two per song sold vs. a 30% margin on iPods, which do you think they'd rather sell a lot more of? Every iPod sold equates to the same profit as a few thousand songs!

Then the Pistols were right (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948076)

There WILL be an unlimited supply...

(goodbye A and M)

Half right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948244)

Because there is a reason why.

MPAA? (1)

JeffElkins (977243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948084)

If the dam breaks for audio, I wonder what the long term prospects are for unencumbered DVD? Will we see the collapse of most DRMed media?

Competing with Apple??? (5, Informative)

ryanduff (948159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948112)

The reasons, of course, have nothing to do with taking a moral stand; EMI wants to compete with Apple. 'The London-based EMI is believed to have held talks with a wide range of online retailers that compete with Apple's iTunes.

Not according to the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/09/business/media/0 9online.html [nytimes.com] :

EMI, which releases music by artists including Coldplay and the Beatles, has discussed various proposals to sell unprotected files through an array of digital retailers, including Apple, Microsoft, Real Networks and Yahoo, said the executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Don't be confused by the submitter's opinion. Moral reasons vs competition was mentioned nowhere in the linked Associated Press article...
In the manner of Steve Ballmer "FUD! FUD! FUD!"

Not really "competing" with Apple (2, Insightful)

Zigurd (3528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948116)

iTunes was critical for iPod to become dominant and fend off challengers, but now that both iPod and iTunes dominate in media players and media downloads, iTunes is more of a limitation than a defense for iPod.

Apple will greatly benefit from the destruction of the iTunes "one price, everything DRM'ed" model for music. As Jobs pointed out in his essay, only a tiny fraction of music on iPods is bought from iTunes. If iPod is to continue to grow as fast as it is now, ripping CDs will become a bottleneck. A multi-supplier, competitively priced, flexible, compatible, user-friendly download business is needed for the media-player business to reach the next level of expansion.

What will prevent piracy? The same thing that made phone phreaking obsolete: Music, like long distance phone service, will become too cheap to steal. $0.10 to get a high quality digital recording vs. swapping sketchy rips with sketchy people - the choice is easy. The other side of the coin is that $0.10 is too little money to support the customer service required when people migrate a DRM'ed music collection from one computer to another or one player to another.

Re:Not really "competing" with Apple (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948444)

Actually, phone phreaking became obsolete when the phone companies upgraded to new digital switching systems that moved all the signaling and control out-of-band and sending tones down the phone line didn't work to get free calls anymore.

No, actually.... (0, Redundant)

Zigurd (3528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948706)

No, actually, it was collapsing prices that ended widespread toll fraud.

When blue-boxing became obsolete, phreakers would hack into PBXs with out-dial capability, or they would hack into conference bridges with toll-free access. Toll fraud was alive and well into the mobile age when cell phones were being "cloned" to sell overseas calls on New York City street corners.

Now you can just Skype nanna back in the Olde Country. Toll fraud is like stealing pebbles off the beach.

So, toll fraud prevention technologies never prevented much toll fraud. Just like DRM is a waste of time and money.

Only a price collapse in digital media will make p2p swapping economically insignificant.

Re:Not really "competing" with Apple (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948620)

What will prevent piracy? The same thing that made phone phreaking obsolete: Music, like long distance phone service, will become too cheap to steal. $0.10 to get a high quality digital recording vs. swapping sketchy rips with sketchy people - the choice is easy. The other side of the coin is that $0.10 is too little money to support the customer service required when people migrate a DRM'ed music collection from one computer to another or one player to another.

Piracy via P2P is really motivated by three forces: price, convenience, and variety. Many people would happily pay for the music they want. Music download services and P2P provide a degree of convenience, but variety is the real killer. P2P piracy allows users to explore different music, something that prior distribution systems never quite took into account.

The way to beat piracy is to offer free downloads of the entire catalog, but at a relatively low bit rate, perhaps 32 kbs. Then, provide at easy mechanism to buy high fidelity music at a higher price, perhaps 0.75 USD per song.

This kind of system would successfully compete against P2P by offering superior convenience and equivalent variety. This would come at a reasonable price, one that most people would be willing to pay for legal, unencumbered music and one which would allow the labels and artists to profit.

Vorbis please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948194)

Thank you

Plea to EMI (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948232)

If it's gotta be MP3s (as opposed to lossless), then please, please, please don't encode the tracks you intend to sell at worse than

lame --vbr-new -h --preset standard

"Excuse me! Old man coming through!" (4, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17948424)

Hey, EMI!

How about you just *continue* to release albums in the best digital sound quality possible (i.e. on CD) and just make the price of those a lot more reasonable?

Then all of us out here in Consumerland can rip the CDs to whatever format is appropriate to us and not go into fits of hysterical laughter when a Beatles album that was recorded 40 years ago appears in a shop with a £15+ price tag.

If people want the option of picking tracks from albums in a lossy format, then let them have it - but if theire lives are so damned hectic that they cannot find the time to listen to an album from start to finish, then they are not the true, CD-buying music enthusiasts anyway.

And if people start whining about "only 2 or 3 good tracks on an album" then suggest that they do a little more research into music and go find some better music.

Re:"Excuse me! Old man coming through!" (1)

ScnGuy (1060720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949476)

I agree wholeheartedly. CDs are the way to go, and I'd hate to see them go the way of the dodo. The pricing for music albums (CD, vinyl, cassette, 8track) has always been out of whack with reality, and the music industry has always tried to curtail illegal copying (from the radio, from LP to cassette, from live concerts) in every way except the most obvious: lower the damn price of the albums!


Why is it that DVDs and Music CDs cost about the same, when, when you think about it, the effort to create a movie is a lot greater than the effort to create a music CD?


I use iTunes, and like it, generally, but for music I really care about, I buy the CD.
 

YOU INSENSITIVE CLO@D? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948562)

Gloves, 3ondoms erosion of user the 4roject

Not Just DRM FREE (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948756)

They better have a damn good privacy policy that does not Spam, sell, rent, or otherwise share information or communicate for any other reason than the immediate business at hand. This won't be like retailers with bad privacy policies in which case one can simply go to a more reputable online store. You want to see a nightmare privacy policy, check out Buy.com [buy.com] :

At Buy.com, your privacy is a top priority. Please read our privacy policy details.

...

...

Except as limited below, we reserve the right to use or disclose your personally identifiable information for business reasons in whatever manner desired.

An opt-out option is useless as the cat is out of the bag before delivery of goods and often the opt-out is broken or they opt you back in, or you don't know the extent of the abuse 'til later*. Many online stores essentially say, "We value your privacy... read on to see how we really don't and were just joking."

I know being AC and this is /. with its masturbatory hatred of ACs and DRM, but IMHO, this is a concern of equal if not more serious concern.

*I opted out of receiving a woodworking catalog after buying a $10 doodad. The online company had sent over a dozen catalogs based on one $10 purchase. After "opting out", I promptly received another half dozen catalogs from OTHER woodworking stores with whom I had never done business. That is how opt works. Fuck us? No, FUCK YOU!

buy.com (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949220)

Buy.com started out as spammers; the first I ever heard of them was some spam. It's no surprise to hear that they haven't changed much.

First: what is mine, is mine. Second, ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17948994)

First, before I buy download music, I want a clear, specific and binding assertion that what I buy remains mine. No more of the RIAA propaganda claiming that purchasers only buy the media and then "license" the music. Horse-hockey. If I give a distributor cash for a 45/LP/CD/Download then I have purchased it, all of it (media and music). I'll consider limited restrictions on reproduction, oriented toward commercial resale.
Second, under no circumstances will I purchase something that I can't:
- move to new media, as technology changes.
- put on my home server and listen to on any PC/Player on my network, WIFI included.
- put on media for my automobile CD player or standalone MP3 player.
I am firm in what I want. If they want my cash, meet my terms. Otherwise, I'll spend elsewhere.

Compete? (1)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949000)

Selling MP3 competes with only the iTunes Music Store. That would take some revenue from Apple, but they would continue doing just fine selling iPods. In fact, I bet a lot of folks would stick with iTMS anyway because it's easier to keep coordinated. Songs you buy through Apple are automatically added to your song library. The average consumer might not be up to the task of importing MP3s from some other service into their iTunes library.

Give Steve Jobs some credit (3, Insightful)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949200)

He made a statement that Apple would sell music without DRM if the labels would let him and people accuse him of being a cheat, looking out for his own interests. How would selling DRM-free music benefit Apple at all? It wouldn't. It would level the playing field on both online stores and music players. Apple has about 70-75% of the market with DRM. How could they sustain this market with DRM-free music? I don't think they could. So for Jobs to say he wants to drop DRM is a big statement.

I hope EMI follows through on this. Without DRM, now we'll have real competition. Stores will differentiate on quality of music, artists available, and price. I think in the end, FLAC will become the format of choice so player compatibility won't be an issue at all.

And I still think Apple has something up its sleeve. Now that they've settled their feud with Apple Corp., they are free to enter the music business. At some point, they will have an agreement with a major artist to sell the artists music on iTunes without one of the Big 4 labels being involved. This could signal a major shift in artists way of thinking. Who needs a label if you can distribute your music through iTunes?

This will also start a new industry of marketing agencies whose primary business will be marketing recording artists. They will become the promoters instead of the record labels. In 10 years, the labels will either be transformed into promoters or be out of business.

FLAC tracks for about $1.00 or bust (1)

Chris Chiasson (908287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949208)

I refuse to pay for lower-than-CD-quality tracks when I can get the CD quality track for nearly the same price. Digital delivery is cheaper than actually pressing, shipping, stocking, and eventually selling a CD, so FLAC tracks for $1.00 each should be quite profitable.

Goodbye, E.M.I. (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949286)

Hello, A&M.

MP3 eh? (2, Interesting)

twbecker (315312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17949314)

While I'm really glad that some in the industry are beginning to realize that it might be smart to dump DRM, I'm a little disappointed to see that MP3 looks like it's going to be the format of choice. Newer formats, like AAC and hell even WMA, offer better sound quality at lower bit rates, and hence, filesizes. If iTMS started selling non-DRM AAC, you have to wonder whether the allegations of lock-in would really go down. AAC, although open, isn't widely supported on non iPod players, is it?
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