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Store Says DRM Causes 3 of 4 Support Calls

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the cost-shifting dept.

Music 155

Carter writes "Ars Technica is reporting that Musicload, one of Europe's largest movie stores, has found that 75% of its customer support problems are caused by DRM. Users have frequent problems using the music that they have purchased, which has led Musicload to try selling independent label music without DRM. Artists choosing to abandon DRM in favor of good old-fashioned MP3 have seen 40% growth in sales since December. Good to see someone in the business both 'gets it' and is willing to do something about it."

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These Are Desired Problems (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418081)

Curiously, the article doesn't mention any specific problems. I'm racking my tiny brain right now to think of some problem that isn't desired by the RIAA.

I submit to you the anecdotal evidence of my sister's "iPod." She purchased songs through iTMS and attempted to move the DRM'd files onto her SanDisk MP3 Player. Then she wondered why it didn't work. It didn't work because the files have digital rights management & only brand specific players will play it--and vice versa.

You know, right now iPods are probably the most popular portable music device. But I don't know of any other music download DRM services that they work with. So if some third party download service called Musicload is reporting that 75% of problem calls are DRM related, I'm going to wager that every single call went a little something like "Do you have an iPod?" "No." "I'm sorry, iPod doesn't support our DRM." (or the German equivalent). In fact, on their site, I don't see an iPod [musicload.de] as being supported.

I think a DRM standard that everyone adopts would avoid these issues but I don't forsee that happening in the future. It benefits Apple somewhat because they can have a great service or a great player and reap the market. I don't blame them, however, because they do a fine job on both ends. I am concerned about any sort of free market existing here.

In the end, the RIAA wants these problems. They don't want you docking a player with many computers and soaking up the files. They want one player associated with one computer associated with one account and any attempt to anything else should wipe everything off the face of the planet. Why? Money. Somehow the consumer no longer has a voice.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418479)

DRM and it's monopolizing ability will be gone by the end of this decade.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418535)

DRM and it's monopolizing ability will be gone by the end of this decade.
Oh, thank god! I was worried that the RIAA would continue to rape me and the artists like they have been for the past 30 years. But now this anonymous coward has reassured me that it will not last past 2010!

I can't wait for 2010. No more DRM and I'll have my flying stainless steal DeLorean!

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

tanguyr (468371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418627)

Yeah, about that flying DeLorean... I'm afraid the boys down at the tool shed have run into a hitch. Don't worry, they tell me they can fix it, absolutely nothing to it... but we might be just a little bit late with the delivery.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

nuclearspike (744690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419233)

Ok, maybe he's not right about 2010, but Dec 12, 2012 is the end of the world, so in that respect DRM will be gone. :)
Oh no, look out! [december212012.com] a google search for 12/21/2012 [google.com]

Re:These Are Desired Problems (4, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418503)

In fact, on their site, I don't see an iPod as being supported.


From the Musicload site:

TIPPS
Kein WMA mit iPod!
Kein WMA mit iPod!
Der iPod unterstützt leider nicht das populäre Windows Media Audio (WMA) Format von Microsoft. Musicload empfiehlt deshalb Mobile Player zu kaufen, die WMA und MP3 Formate abspielen können.


Auf Englisch (my translation):

IPod unfortunately does not support Microsoft's popular format, Windows Media Audio (WMA). Therefore, Musicload recommends that you buy a Mobile Player which can play WMA and MP3 formats.

Specifically, Musicload's offerings are in WMA unless they fall in the subset of non-DRM'd media now available -- so no iPods is right on the mark.

Wha? No Speaky Frenchie! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418605)

Try learning American for once. Next you'll be trying to steal my job...

Mein Gott! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418985)

Musicload's offerings are in WMA

DRM'd and sonically inferior? I can see why their customers are unhappy.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (3, Insightful)

J0nne (924579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418999)

WMA is popular? Since when?

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420315)

My guess is you have a hundred different "playsforsure" players. Thing is if you are a music store and you want to sell drm'd tunes you can't actually support the ipod because its proprietary.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420611)

Personally, I really like WMA's lossless compression, because it is fairly efficient and "normal" people can play it (and it doesn't have to have DRM).

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

rudlavibizon (948703) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419087)

Auf Englisch (google translation): TIPPS no WMA with iPod! no WMA with iPod! iPod unfortunately the popular Windows Media audio (WMA) does not support format of Microsoft. Musicload recommends to buy therefore mobile Player, which can play WMA and MP3 of formats

Re:These Are Desired Problems (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419347)

except, of course, the iPod can play mp3s.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419677)

Almost all of Musicload's selection is not offered in mp3. Hence, the support calls when people download WMA media and it won't work in their iPod.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420685)

Now if you can only convince all the studios to allow their stuff to be released as mp3's, we'd be set.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419983)

(Indulge me. I'm feeling anti-MS this afternoon)

See? It wasn't the DRM that was causing the problems! It was that EE-vil Microsoft!

Really- WMA? There should be absolutely no problem, 'cause it's Play For Sure!

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1, Redundant)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418525)

I think a DRM standard that everyone adopts would avoid these issues but I don't forsee that happening in the future. It benefits Apple somewhat because they can have a great service or a great player and reap the market. I don't blame them, however, because they do a fine job on both ends. I am concerned about any sort of free market existing here.

Don't worry, a free market for this otherwise DRM'd material already exists. And they are selling their "warez" at bottom barrel prices!

Re:These Are Desired Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418611)

and they are kicking the people who make original new content in the nuts every time they do it.
The warez providers are just thieving leeches, to refer to them in any other way is just plain old innacurate.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (2, Informative)

bberens (965711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419173)

I realize this tripe argument is often dragged out and people are tired of hearing it but I'm one of those users who, on occasion, will buy a license but run a warez version because the copy protection makes the product difficult to use.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418549)

There are services such as eMusic.com that sell music without DRM. This gets rid of the whole problem with music not playing on one player or the other, because MP3 plays on just about everything, even the iPod.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420719)

Unfortunately is doesn't get rid of the problem of eMusic having a VERY limited selection.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421079)

It has a better selection than most brick and mortar music stores. Oh wait, you want to listen to Britney Spears and other top 40 bands. Sorry they don't have that, but they do have a very good selection never the less.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418771)

I don't buy CDs anymore, unless they are to support a band I'm interested in and it is the only way I can purchase them. First thing I'll do is run home and rip them so I can add them to my digital collection, which is how I listen to 100% of my music.

I don't buy anything with DRM. If there is DRM, I'm more likely to just get it from bit torrent or a Russian site. It will have much higher quality, too.

However, if you have good music and the money is going to you and I can get it simply via digital download, I'm all over that. I won't pay a dollar a song on iTunes and have never used that. For a buck a song, I might as well just go buy the CD and rip them myself so I don't have any DRM restrictions in the first place! But if you have unrestricted, quality MP3s available for a simple download (like Anders Manga, The Low, etc) I will gladly pay $10 or $12 an album and - quite recently - have a number of times.

I think this goes to support the growing swell of "I'm willing to pay if you're willing to give me what I want".

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420757)

I think this goes to support the growing swell of "I'm willing to pay if you're willing to give me what I want".
I couldn't quite tell from your post -- does this mean you're willing to steal if not? Or just that you will do without? (Hopefully the latter, as a significant number people choosing to do that and /not/ stealing is the only way to really show the industry that they're wrong.)

Re:These Are Desired Problems (5, Insightful)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418953)

Hence the phrase "defective by design"

http://defectivebydesign.org/ [defectivebydesign.org]

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419703)

You know, I went there and then went and looked at there letter.

It really shows how ignorant they are. I wonder if the people who crafted that letter have even read the DMCA?

Point 1 and 2 ignore the fact that if they don't DRM content, the provider will just say No. They won't even consider it until they have a sizable revenue history to look at the loss they wuld aquire if Apple stopped selling music and movies.

Point 3 would be bad becasue the safe harbor provision would go away, making ISP's liable for any content users post.

OTOH, it's a great band wagon to jump on because the market seems to be getting rid of DRM anyways.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418971)

Curiously, the article doesn't mention any specific problems. I'm racking my tiny brain right now to think of some problem that isn't desired by the RIAA.

The support phone call. Each and every one of them is like tick after tick after depressing tick of red ink.

C//

Re:These Are Desired Problems (1)

Brad Eleven (165911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419191)

Somehow the consumer no longer has a voice.
It seems to me that the consumer isn't the customer with most modern media:

  • Television: the customer is the advertiser
  • Film: the customer is the theater (although there is reselling)
  • Music Store: the customer is the store (isn't that how sales are calculated?)

By "customer" I refer not so much to the direct revenue source for the media creator/owner as the primary influence entity. If I like a song, film, TV show, etc., about all I can do is to buy one or more copies. Compare/contrast to YouTube and friends, where popularity is all about something akin to voting.

It's not simply a matter of middlemen, e.g., the actual consumers (you and I) are not involved in the creation and distribution of the product. It looks like the corporations are out of touch with What's Actually Going On.

What a shocker. Next thing you know, they'll be found to have been paying their executives Too Much Money. Now that would only exacerbate the problem by further isolating these important decision makers from reality.

Re:These Are Desired Problems (2, Insightful)

Nushio (951488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419353)

"Somehow the consumer no longer has a voice. "

We still do. We speak in the only language they understand. Money.

Speak with your wallets, not your voice.

I dont get it. (5, Funny)

brian.gunderson (1012885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418083)

I personally don't understand why everybody hates DRM [wikipedia.org] so much. Let's consider the needs of the handicaped for once.

Re:I dont get it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418147)

Obviously the disabled are supposed to go rot in a gutter instead of companies spending as much as a penny to allow them to become gainfully employed or having them leech off the rest of society via their "disability" payments.

Re:I dont get it. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418243)

"I personally don't understand why everybody hates DRM..."

I personally don't understand why people would like DRM! Do you like buying a DVD movie and can't play it in a player with a different region coding? Do you like not being able to jump to the main feature of a movie without the torture of the trailers (though this is getting better lately)?

These restrictions placed on DVDs is a form of DRM. And you have to be twisted to like those features. Enjoy!

Re:I dont get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418371)

Coward: One man may toast his muffins before the fine fireplace of privilege, whilst another contracts pnuemonia in the knackers of non-entity. Get back to non-entity coward.

Re:I dont get it. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418613)

Sheesh.. you don't have the slightest idea what people mean when they talk about DRM [wikipedia.org] .

See? It's already in the Linux kernel!

'Bout time (0, Redundant)

BloodyIron (939359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418087)

'Bout time

Four? (5, Funny)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418101)

Four support calls isn't really that bad...

Re:Four? (1)

SPQR_Julian (967179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420231)

Is it bad that I wondered how 75% of anything can ever be equal to 4?

The wrong person is "getting" it (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418137)

This store is taking a realistic look at their support costs, and has determined that a particular "feature" is costing them a lot of money.

Woohoo. Great. Little happy dance. Big fucking deal.

They aren't the ones who are pushing DRM. They ahve it because without it they wouldn't get the major label tracks which (I presume) form the bulk of their income. This isn't hurting the labels who are requiring the DRM, its simply sqishing the middle players. Now, this is certainly better than just squishing the consumer, but it's still a far cry from leverage to affect change where the change can actually occur.

Re:The wrong person is "getting" it (4, Insightful)

croddy (659025) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419019)

The stores that are pushing the DRM-encumbered media are complicit in pushing DRM. They've chosen willingly to push this technology, and that doesn't make them the victims. They're merely the little dog, racing around the bigger one as it rips at the consumer's jugular.

That's a huge deal. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419411)

the label can talk all they want, but the bottom line is: "If the labels customers(retailers) don't buy their product, they go out of business.

Re:That's a huge deal. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420575)

That's very true. The retailers want it both ways, too. They want unencumbered product to reduce costs, but they also want the product the big labels market because that's where the money is.

Thing is, they don't really have that much leverage against the labels because the labels have a monopoly on their products. You can't just go somewhere else and pay for the latest Beyonce hit like you can go buy corn or beef. Right now the retailers would prefer no DRM, because they think that would make them the most money. Labels want DRM because they think that's how they will make the most - and no amount of whining by the retailers is going to change their minds if they keep getting checks at the end of the month.

Musicload, one of Europe's largest movie stores (3, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418201)

Odd name for a movie store.

Anyway, I've returned a DVD because it wouldn't play on my computer. Not surprisingly, it was due to DRM. If the stores lose money trying to sell it, then they will stop carrying it.

Re:Musicload, one of Europe's largest movie stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418941)

Very few stores even let you return a DVD that fails to play properly after you opened it except in exchange for another DVD which might end up having the same problem playing if your issue playing is caused by DRM.

Re:Musicload, one of Europe's largest movie stores (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420137)

Except in the U.K. and I suspect the rest of the E.U. by law any vendor of goods *must* take back faulty goods and offer a *full* refund. They may try and play hard ball, but in the end they will have to give way because it is the law. There is no exception in the law for CD's or DVD's because the user might have copied them.

Re:Musicload, one of Europe's largest movie stores (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420813)

It used to be worse. Their original slogan was "Let us shoot a Musicload right into your ear!"

It sounded a lot better in the original German.

I don't believe their data (2, Insightful)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418207)

Simply put, the user is too dumb to realize they even have a problem, let alone link it to DRM. Nobody knows what DRM even is, there is no awareness at all. 'nuff said.
As a side note: why don't the famous musicians dump their majors and start selling mp3s independently? I would suppose they'd earn much more.

Re:I don't believe their data (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418279)

Might work if you own the studio and what not. But if you have no money and need access to a quarter of a million dollars worth of recording gear ... what are you going to do? The problem is they don't break away from the recording companies soon enough...

As for people not knowing what DRM is ... I'd say that's a bit reaching. Most people who have used itunes or DVDs are at least aware of "something" which makes it harder to use things as you'd think you could (re: skip the ads at the start, or copy the itunes files to other machines).

They might not know the intricate details about how the DRM "unworks" the system, but I think they're at least aware of it's presence.

Tom

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418405)

Artists can't dump their labels. Once you sign a contract with a label your pretty signed your life to that label for life. There isn't much you can do to get out of working for them.

A label can dumb an artist. However how many bands do you know have switched labels?

none that I know of maybe someone else knows where to look.

The only thing left to do is to make DRM look bad. Which isn't that hard. heck just look at all the problems they are having trying to get HDCP to work properly.

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418493)

What? You can leave a label, but only after the term is up. If you sign up for 4 albums, your next 4 albums belong to them. At the end of that time you don't have to re-sign. Most probably don't switch labels because things are working out [re: cocaine supply is steady].

The problem is the bar to get into the field is high. Not only do you [normally] need talent, but you also need gear and people who know how to use the gear. unless you're sitting at a piano or playing an accoustic on your own it's fairly costly to produce an album that people will buy in sufficient numbers to make a quality life from.

So most people take their talent and let a label handle the rest.

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420169)

I don't think it would really cost that much to make an album. Most people wouldn't care about the quality if the music is good. Studio time is expensive, but if you priced your music cheaper according to the quality, you should be able to make pretty good money at it. Let's say you sell an albums worth of songs for $5. And lets say you sell them on the internet. Let's say you sell them online in MP3 format. Assuming you sell 10,000 copies, that's $50,000 in your pocket. Minus expenses, which if you record the music in your garage, and pay your monthly hosting fee of $7.95, then you've made quite a bit of money. And that's not even counting money made from performances.

Ah, but who decides an album is done? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420733)

The record label.

IIRC this is what happened to George Michael.

If you're in for 4 albums and the first/two is/are good but you don't fit the coming demographic they don't want to let you go but they can make more money for less with someone else. So they have you record tracks for an album. The tracks won't "work" as an album, so more have to be done. But there's problems with getting your time booked. We'll sort it out. More tracks. More criticism and "please go and do better" and more blocks on booking time.

You're still waiting for your third and fourth album so you can move on. You may even get your third one out, but you'll never get to release your 4th. You're more valuable being kept away from the competition than you cost to keep hanging on.

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418571)

However how many bands do you know have switched labels? none that I know of maybe someone else knows where to look.

Never heard of Paul McCartney? [dailymail.co.uk] While I may not like her work, I've heard of Jessica Simpson. [billboard.com]

These examples were found within 2 minutes of looking. Try checking a little more closely next time before you post.

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418593)

Plenty of artists have switched labels. Frank Zappa, John Fogerty, John Lennon and Paul McCartney all come to mind. If you switch before you've delivered your contractual obligation, you may be sued, or at the very least forfeit some monetary amount. Labels usually dump artists simply because they aren't selling enough records to meet contractual obligations.

I'm not defending record companies here. They're crooks through and through, and have been for decades. They'll lie, steal and cheat at the drop of hat, and the contracts that they have pushed artists into have been repugnant, though it's more difficult nowadays because tales of how people like Bo Diddley were ripped off by thieving companies are legendary. But changing labels, once you've fulfilled your contract, is simply a matter of finding someone else to sign you up.

Re:I don't believe their data (4, Interesting)

croddy (659025) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418815)

As Dick Dale said:

Don't sign with a label; don't sign with a record company, because the minute you sign your name, you will lose all the rights to your music, and you will never see a dime. So what you should do is build up your following by continuously playing. Save up your money and record your own stuff and your own CDs, and then learn to market yourself. Sell your own CD's right out of your vehicle, right out of your show, just like Johnny Cash sold his records right out of the trunk of his car. ... If you sign with a label, the label will take it all, and you won't see one nickel. And that's the reason why labels will give you a million dollars up front... they'll invest four million into you and they'll take about fourteen million making that kind of money off of you and you'll end up owning them two million. So you'll never see a dime of anything that you do. And when you start to make money for the company they make you record another song, so that you will go back in the hole again, the company does. So that's the reason why you'll never see a dime in royalties. You'll be lucky if they even give you thirty-five cents a record. Whereas if you make and sell your own CD, whatever it costs you to make the CD, above and beyond that you'll put in your own pocket.

This is a guy that's survived a shark bite, beaten cancer, and has been supporting himself playing music since the early 60's. Anyone who tells you that you need a major label to promote your work is either ignorant or actively trying to defraud you.

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419117)

I think this especially rings true today where DAWs are commonplace (ProTools, Cubase, etc..) and the Internet is an effective medium to distribute music.
The model is changing, or at least, it should be. Eventually, record companies will either go bye-byes, or merge into movie production houses where blockbuster movies are still ventures that can't be done on a shoe string budget, consistently. Maybe some year even the movie studios will go bye-byes too, depending on how graphics tech and hardware continue to evolve, with all virtual actors and voices.

Re:I don't believe their data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418415)

why don't the famous musicians dump their majors and start selling mp3s independently? I would suppose they'd earn much more.

It is called a contract; not to mention the exposure that the major labels can bring to the table. If you already established; you might be able to go it alone.

Re:I don't believe their data (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418477)

I doubt most people will know it's the DRM, but the support people will and that's where they'll get the statistics from.

Customer: "The song i downloaded doesn't work on my MP3 player!"
Support Person: (Thinking) "DRM again..."

Re:I don't believe their data (5, Interesting)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418873)

If they go independant

* Their music will *never* be played on mainstream radio ("payola [wikipedia.org] ", though in more subtle forms, is very much alive today)
* Their videos will never be played on Music Channels like mTV
* Their CDs will never be sold in major music stores, or sold on major online retailers.
* As a result of the aforementioned, they will never be able to to gain much exposure, and thus never be able to sell many concert tickets, which is the biggest revenue stream for most musicians.

In short, going independent is a sure way to not make much money.

The entire music industry is a cartel, much like the DeBeers diamond cartel. Like DeBeers has with diamonds, they have near complete control over the production and distribution of their product. This allows them to manipulate both supply and demand, which in turn, allows them to sell their product for more than it would be worth in a truly open market. Because of the control they have over every aspect of music production and distribution, third parties are not able to make much money selling music unless they join the cartel.

Currently the music industry is trying to further limit distribution of their product via DRM. This further increases the profit margins because consumers cannot resell their DRM locked music, like they can used tapes or CDs. DeBeers has done a similar thing - though by different means [theatlantic.com] (obviously you can't put DRM on a diamond), and been very successful at it over the last century.

I know the DeBeers/Music Industry analogy isn't perfect, by DeBeers is the most successful cartel ever so I imagine every cartel looks to it for "inspiration".

Re:I don't believe their data (3, Insightful)

DrBdan (987477) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419139)

If they go independant
...


I would agree with everything that you said if you change the word "go" to "start". As people have already stated it is very difficult for a new band to get access to equipment, recording time, media exposure etc without the help of a label. That is a large part of why new bands usually jump at the chance to join a label.

On the other hand there are a number of large bands that could potentially go independent now and do just fine. A prime example is Radiohead, who are in fact not in a contract right now but I bet when their new album is released it will get just as much hype as the last one. Of course the majority of bands aren't big enough to sustain a large fanbase without a big label or are locked into multi-album record deals, which is why the labels are able to take advantage of so many bands. That's my two cents at least.

Re:I don't believe their data (2, Insightful)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421035)

An established artist going independent still entails a certain risk. Why go independent when you have the leverage to sign contracts that are more favorable to you, and still get all the benefits of belonging the cartel?

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419177)

Like DeBeers has with diamonds, they have near complete control over the production and distribution of their product. This allows them to manipulate both supply and demand,

I definitely agree that their control over production and distribution allows them to manipulate supply. But I'm not sure I see it on the demand side. Sure, they can make ads to try and get people interested in diamonds, but I don't see how they have any more control over demand than a non-cartel.

Am I missing something?

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419927)

Marketing is a powerful tool for manipulating demand. DeBeers did it by convincing people that diamonds were rare (they are not) and that "Diamonds are forever", i.e. you shouldn't resell a diamond. The music industry does it via their stranglehold on distribution and marketing channels. In the case of music for most people, the vast majority, if not all music that they want it fed to them via traditional marketing channels like radio stations and music channels. Really shitty music can become popular if you play it enough.

Re:I don't believe their data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419935)

What would you do to change the situation, to break up the recording industry cartel?

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

equex256 (927355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420079)

* Their music will *never* be played on mainstream radio ("payola", though in more subtle forms, is very much alive today)
* Their videos will never be played on Music Channels like mTV
* Their CDs will never be sold in major music stores


If more artists goes indy, especially as more artists starting out, that has been exposed the the whole 'intarweb' thing, radio & TV's will be left with old stuff on old record contracts that old people without internet experience can listen to and buy in "legacy shops".

or sold on major online retailers.
* As a result of the aforementioned, they will never be able to to gain much exposure, and thus never be able to sell many concert tickets, which is the biggest revenue stream for most musicians.


No, the entire thing will be decentralized and leave the middle men out. Everything, including online broadcasting will be happening online between artists and maybe their webmaster (who also announces the tourdates) and the internet savvy public doing it.

The need for record companies, cigar-wielding managers, FM radios and TV's will disappear. (ofcourse to great panic in the established industry, wich is why all this DRM/RIAA stuff is happening)

Re:I don't believe their data (1)

Dave Walker (9461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420775)

* Their videos will never be played on Music Channels like mTV

MTV is playing music again? When'd that start?

Re:I don't believe their data (2, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418997)

Simply put, the user is too dumb to realize they even have a problem, let alone link it to DRM. Nobody knows what DRM even is, there is no awareness at all. 'nuff said.
Do you actually think the customers call support and tell them: "I have an incompatibility between the used DRM on file ABC and player XYZ, because the used DRM Coding BlaFasel v1.04.02 is not recognized by the player firmware 2.42!" If they had a clue like this they wouldn't call support in the first place.

No. The statistics come from the resolution put into the support ticket. And those resolution was found by the support people probably after lengthy discussions with the customer to find out what actual release of which software player he was using, what make of hardware player he bought, how to update it, which DRM version of which music file finally got running on which configuration.

Re:I don't believe their data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419057)

"Simply put, the user is too dumb to realize they even have a problem"

I bet when the music doesn't play they realize they have a problem.

Could be a way to protest DRM (4, Interesting)

thewils (463314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418389)

Phone for support, act dumb. Drive that 75% up to 95%. If the cost of providing support exceeds revenue, maybe DRM will be dropped.

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (0)

MrLeap (1014911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418485)

That seems like a pretty misleading way to protest. You might want to consider being ashamed of yourself.

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (1)

greginnj (891863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418911)

That seems like a pretty misleading way to protest. You might want to consider being ashamed of yourself.

Considering ... considering .... done! Nope, I'm not ashamed of myself.

Just out of curiosity, have you contacted the RIAA and suggested that they might want to be ashamed of themselves for randomly proposing settlement fees to people who haven't even violated DRM?

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419277)

Man, the replies to your post really show how the art of the effective protest is gone.

Not buying won't work. The demographic of people who won't buy is small enough and easy enough to chalk up to 'lost sale due to piracy'.

The people with the real power are:
A)The group that get signed. They could make 'no drm' as part of the contract.
B)retails who buy the discs for resale. If they say 'no DRM' it would go away as well.

Both theose group nede to relize the labels need THEM, not the other way around.

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419467)

Corporations have no shame, why should we give them that advantage?

Worked for me, entirely by accident. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418645)

1) I buy CD from Amazon.

2) CD turns up, but is an "enhanced" CD.

3) The first CD I try it in (an old Redhat PC) doesn't recognise anything. The second (Windows XP) shows only something like "playme.exe", which I unsurprisingly decline to run.

4) I complain to Amazon, asking where the music is.

5) Amazon (it appears) don't actually read the email but send a replacement

Obviously I could have gone back to (4) again, except that in the meantime I'd found a PC that recognised it (more recent Linux distribution). I gave the duplicate to a friend.

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418711)

If the RIAA stooped to such stupid tactics, it would be slashdot front page news OMG LOOK AT TEH MAFIAAAAAAAA for the next 6 months.

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (2, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418907)

Phone for support, act dumb. Drive that 75% up to 95%. If the cost of providing support exceeds revenue, maybe DRM will be dropped.

How is this informative? If you want to succeed in driving online music sales out of existence, which will in turn cause the RIAA to scream even more about piracy, and start slapping even more people with lawsuits, then great.

How about, if you don't like DRM, you don't purchase music from artists & labels which support DRM? Shift that money to indie labels & independent artists that don't use DRM, and suddenly you'll see small labels become much more influential. You can drive a wedge into the recording industry associations by spending your money on labels that do business in a way you agree with; fucking over the resellers and driving them out of business is not the way to reach any desirable end state.

I don't care if Jessica Simpson is offering to personally give you a hummer [urbandictionary.com] for every DRM'ed track you buy... if DRM (or more precisely, the lack of it) is important to you, then don't buy it .

Re:Could be a way to protest DRM (2, Insightful)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419383)

Except that the labels will see lower sales (from people buying indie labels/bands) and still scream "piracy is eating our profits!", so there needs to be an added step of not buying DRM'd music and telling the RIAA labels at the same time so they know WHY they lost a sale. Plus it's a non-solution for people who actually like a particular artist. Yes, a lot of mainstream RIAA-label music is pop crap, but some of the artists are worth listening to, so what do you do if you still want music from $ARTIST but still want to vote with your dollars? (leaving out the argument about how this wouldn't then be a boycott, but not everyone wants to do a wholesale boycott) The parent poster's solution was actually not that bad in that respect. You buy the music you want, but make it clear to the distributor, and therefore eventually the label, that you are not pleased with the DRM by harrowing their support with DRM related questions. Then the distributor sees their support costs going up from DRM, and tell the labels that DRM sucks.

The more pessismistic view is that there will always be enough ignorant or indifferent consumers of RIAA music that a personal boycott, even with telling the labels your reasons, will have little effect because of the huge number of consumers who don't care and will buy anyway. It's not enough in this situation to just not buy RIAA music, you have to make it affect their bottom line, and in such a way that they can't ignore/hype it as "economic effects of piracy". Driving up costs that are tied to specific metrics (aka can't be written off to piracy) like tech support is one good way to get the message across. To keep up the boycott aspect for those willing to do so, buy it, pursue support, then return it stating clearly your reasons for doing so.

Apple iTunes (2, Interesting)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418439)

So why doesn't Apple do this? They talk the talk, saying they think DRM is harmful, yet all of their music is DRM'd, even from artists who don't want their music to be. And the article also says Musicload did this specifically because it's in heavy competition with iTunes, and thought it would give them an advantage (which it has). So when will Apple step up and allow specific artists to go DRM-free too?

Re:Apple iTunes (2, Insightful)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418501)

So when will Apple step up and allow specific artists to go DRM-free too?

Right after Apple allows interoperability between their other products and other manufacturers'.

Re:Apple iTunes (2, Interesting)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418639)

Setting up the technical and support structures for interoperability is a huge deal though, and it's not the sort of thing you can try on a limited basis, or back out of shortly after, without pissing off a lot of people and organizations who have put a lot of effort into setting up new code and new organizational structures.

On the other hand, allowing selected tracks to go DRM-free is less of a big deal. It probably requires some code changes to iTunes, and requires some legal discussions with the specific artists and their labels, but it's easy to do for a small set of tracks, and they can always back out if they want to.

So, if Apple does steadfastly refuses to take even the smallest steps towards removing DRM for a few select tracks, then that means Apple's exhortations on the downsides of DRM was either hot air, or just another chess move as part of the back-room negotiations with the music companies (along the lines of Viacom suing YouTube).

Re:Apple iTunes (1, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419089)

or maybe they just don't want to breach there contract and have the labels pull all the music?

naw, must be some huge conspiracy.

If you note, the article says are pulling DRM from indie music. Apple wants to sell popular music. Two different beasts.

Steve Jobs had no reason to say he wants to get rid of DRM if it wasn't true.

I would also like to point out that any company that includes IN THE PRODUCT a way to bypass DRM really isn't a fan of DRM.

Re:Apple iTunes (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419215)

From TFA:

iTunes Store does not offer DRM-free music despite the fact that many artists have requested it

iTunes does carry indie music, so Apple does have lots of people they can negotiate with without the major labels getting in the way. For instance, all of CDBaby's catalog is available on iTunes. [1] [musicbizacademy.com] [2] [blogs.com]

Re:Apple iTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420277)

However, if you were a soulless avaricious executive, and insisted on DRM, you'd want to insist on all stores selling DRM'd music. You wouldn't want your DRM-infested music sitting next to music without DRM. It'd clue people in that DRM isn't necessary, and isn't good for them.

Going Out on a Limb (3, Insightful)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418497)

And stating this isn't directly the entertainment conglomerates fault. It's a disingenuous game for sure.

I think the Entertainment conglomerates can plausibly claim at the PHB level, "there's no DRM standard and that's not our fault." This way they can maintain chaos and gain total control of the digital distribution channel when they pick a winner.

It also means that whoever is making these DRM schemes has to do a really good job creating code that has _lots_ of error condition controls. Which I just don't see anyone doing.

The end game is the media conglomerates to win unless the copyright law is meaningfully overhauled.

Re:Going Out on a Limb (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419159)

End Game media conglamorates loose.

No DRM can be effective. So they acn pick a 'winner', but then an hour later it will be cracked.

Copyright is changing. The laws aren't changing, but less and less people put up with it. You can have all the copyright laws in the world, if enough of the people break them, then it is, in effect, gone.

The new defacto copyright will be all about whats worth the bother to put on line.

used CDs work (5, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418529)

I have given up on downloaded music these days, if I really like a band I'll buy a new or used CD, and definitely never use iTunes.

Next thing you know, we'll be getting out the microphone and rip a song right from the loudspeakers - oldskool.

Re:used CDs work (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18418761)

Why on earth you'd wanna use a microphone and speaker? Sheesh all you need is a jack => jack cable anyhow. No matter how hardd copyprotection is hard to crack all you need is a ghettoblaster and a inline on your soundcard. For what? 2-4£ you can copy anything.

Deutsche Telekom interest in DRM? (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418581)

Musicload is owned by Deutsche Telekom, who also own T-Mobile USA.

T-Mobile USA won't support non-DRM'd media out of the box (for ringtones!). I think a couple executives (and a few board members) are going to have to have a conference call and try to figure out DT's position on DRM.

Re:Deutsche Telekom interest in DRM? (2, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418879)

Leaving aside the idea that different companies, even when owned by the same parent, may have different views, there is no contradiction here at all. For T-Mobile, DRM is making them money. For Musicload, it costs them money. You are thinking in terms of whether DRM itself is bad or good. Businesses don't. All they care about is how DRM affects *their* bottom line.

Re:Deutsche Telekom interest in DRM? (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418987)

All they care about is how DRM affects *their* bottom line.
Right. And parent companies have to consider whether their subsidiaries' activities negatively impact other units' profitability.

T-Mobile not supporting non-DRM'd music may increase support expenses at Musicload, as customers try to buy newly available non-DRM'd music at Musicload and experience problems. A CBA would determine if the support for those customers is cheaper than the increased profits from sales of DRM'd music; if not, then these subsidiaries should figure out a better way to work together.

This is an example of the opposite of syngergy -- we have here two parts whose total value is less than the sum of each part.

Re:Deutsche Telekom interest in DRM? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418947)

And hopefully in response to any attempt to force DRMs on their sales DT will spam David Hasselhoff's latest album to all of their voice mail boxes.

-Rick

Re:Deutsche Telekom interest in DRM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420471)

which is strange, b/c i have tmobile, and currently use a plain old mp3 as a ringtone.
maybe not the carrier, but the phone? if the phone doesn;t support mp3, then damn sure it won't be able to use an mp3 ringtone..

Pass the cost on (4, Funny)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18418607)

Make the media more expensive. Drive out your own customers. Complain there aren't enough people in the known world to sue. Lather rinse repeat.

Re:Pass the cost on (3, Insightful)

IvanTheNotSoBad (977004) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419259)

This really should be modded insightful instead of funny. It appears to be the actual business plan of a lot of these companies.

"Music Load" (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419171)

By all accounts I really should have some sort of semen related "Music Load" joke, but I can't think of one at the moment.

Re:"Music Load" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419273)

Then I guess you've blown it.

3 of 4 because of DRM (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419397)

Fine, it was to be expected that DRM causes trouble. But what causes the other 25% of the support calls, which are not related to DRM? The DRM problems are easy to solve, just drop DRM. The other 25% are much more interesting and knowing them might help improve usability.

#1 question (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419515)

How do I fit the cd AND my coffee cup in the holder?

Re:#1 question (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420049)

Ok, if this question is asked more often, than only sell slot-in drives. Problem solved. ;-)

While the story is about DRM'ed music... (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419735)

I am often surprised at how few people realize their DVD player's "problems" are, more often than not, related to Macrovision's content protection. I suppose technically it is an issue with the DVD player, since it's not handling the Macrovision stuff gracefully; but by and large the general public just seems to think that DVD players suck - and they blame the hardware manufacturer rather than the MPAA.

DRM needs to die. Its only real-world impact is to inconvenience those of us who try to do things legally - certainly the pirates aren't being overly inhibited.

Minu4s 1, Tr0ll) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420667)

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