Steve Jobs Says No DRM! No DRM!

The MASTER of marketing, Steve Jobs of Apple has put out a call to the big four music companies to allow them to sell DRM free music in the iStore. I have not heard a truer statement in awhile than this one, “So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none.” It is completely ridiculous that the music companies require all online music stores to “protect” the music with a DRM, these stores would be perfect without it, as you could buy one or two songs from a CD instead of buying the whole CD. This is how it should be and I bet the increase in the number of songs purchased to increase dramatically.

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system. Source: Thoughts on Music

It will be interesting to see how the music companies, Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI, respond to this call for action, if anyone can get people talking about something, it is Steve Jobs. Take a look at the picture below, it is a screenshot of Techmeme, an online news aggregator that tracks news stories. Usually when a post is featured on the site it only has a few sites talking about it, some big stories will have 20 or 30 sites talking about it. This post by Steve Jobs has probably three times that many sites discussing it.

Thoughts on music

It’s easy to go on record and make sure everyone remembers that the music companies are the bad guys, hehe, Bill Gates has already gone on record as hating DRM, and the music companies are probably going to do it anyway, and they have already made billions with DRM. Plus, he reinforces the view that he and Apple are the cool people, sticking it to the man. However you look at it, no DRM sounds really good to me.

No DRM! No DRM! No DRM!