Sunday, February 11, 2007

EMI exploring DRM-free downloads, but only if they can slip in a fatter profit margin, apparently. The most interesting point in this article is the observation that labels fear DRM-free music downloads might be too successful, and would cannibalize CD sales. So basically, DRM isn't about preventing piracy, it's just designed to be a pain in the ass so you'll skip iTunes and just buy the damn CD.

Of course, without rampant price fixing, CDs wouldn't have a higher profit margin. After all, delivering digital music to an online store involves virtually no overhead. But what strikes me as odd, from my personal experience, is that most CDs, if you shop around, are pretty close in price to digital downloads. In fact, while I generally prefer downloading songs (instant gratification, plus the fact that my CD-ROM sucks, and I often have to re-rip songs that have skips), I often find the CD is actually cheaper. I got the Dixie Chicks' new CD from Amazon for cheaper than iTunes, same with Lady Sovereign at Circuit City, and the other day I was planning to download an old Johnny Cash CD, and iTunes wanted $11.99, while I found it online for $9.99. Twelve bucks to download a thirty-minute album from fifty years ago? $0.99/song seems a fair price to me, and I can see tacking on a few bucks for a hot new album, but the amount of old albums fetching a premium price on iTunes is just bizarre, if the goal is to sell songs.

No comments: