No, DRM-Free Music Won’t Spark a New Bonanza



Silicon Valley raconteur Om Malik is always keeping his eyes peeled for something to surpass Apple’s killer iPod+iTunes combo, and after endorsing Real Rhapsody the other day, he’s now generally supporting the idea that a new generation of DRM-free music will fuel a surge in digital music sales.

While online music downloads have grown rapidly, DRM (regardless of the
flavor) has added more friction than security to the process, often
slowing total sales, especially amongst the non-techie music fans.

I still don’t buy it. Most people are willing to put up with minor DRM headaches for convenience. Most other people that really want to own their music are using services like eMusic or buying CDs. I don’t think we’re at a point where a lack of DRM-free Greatest Hits of the Eagles downloads is the bottleneck. Granted, Om thinks Apple stands to benefit here, but he also implies that the Sonos hardware that connects to Pandora could be the wave of the future. Which it isn’t. I’m sorry, but radio, however evolved, doesn’t hold the same long-term value as buying what you want. Pandora’s a fun trick right now, but it’s a long way from the music-brain I never realized I needed.

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