Set my music free – thank you EMI

Thank you EMI for releasing music singles without any DRM protection on it.  While I continue my love/hate relationship with the IPod, I do believe that my music needs to be portable and free. I recently bought the new Treo 680 for my wife and was in the process of loading music on her device when I remembered that my selection was limited.  I also have the same issue with the new Blackberry Pearl I just bought for myself.  Why is this the case?  It is because the hardware and technology vendors want to lock consumers into their ecosystems.  It is because the music companies are afraid of piracy.  In this case, it is because any music I bought from ITunes over the last few years requires me to have a device (iPod, iTunes, or  music phone) that can play ITunes or AAC encoded tracks.  Sure I could go convert the files to a wav format and then reconvert them to MP3 but who has the time or desire to do so.  The same goes for any device using Microsoft technology - your new device has to support WMA DRM.  In the end, I buy my music but it can't go anywhere with me which is quite frustrating.  As we all know, this will become a bigger problem in the future as more and more devices support music like the Treo and new Blackberry Pearl.  As a consumer, I don't necessarily want to be locked into one vendor forever and want to be able to easily port my songs between different devices.  There are forward thinking individuals in the industry like Michael Robertson (full disclosure, Michael is also the founder of portfolio company Sipphone) who wants to store your music in the cloud and allow you to access it from any device - wireless, Tivo, any PC, but at the end of the day the problem is that I still need to have iTunes if I want to play the music I bought from them.  This has to end!  So EMI is releasing a Norah Jones single through Yahoo Music with no DRM.  This is a baby step but a big one.  Maybe the fear of Apple's dominance in the music industry is outweighing the industry's concern for piracy? Either way, this is a welcome step for consumers.  I still may go back to the stone age and buy CDs and rip them myself as I want my music to be free, free of all DRM so I can use it how I want and on what device I want.

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3 Responses to “Set my music free – thank you EMI”

  1. Erik Schwartz Dec 7, 2006 at 11:52 am #

    FWIW, this is why I am dubious of the success of the forthcoming iPhone.

    First of all, a stipulation. If the iPhone is only synchable via USB, it’s lame and it shouldn’t be released. I want to be able to access my local iTunes library with this device via the data channel on my phone (I also want it to synch all my other data too, cal, contacts…). I need to be able to but new songs from Apple via the data channel.

    The cellular carriers are one of those entities that want to lock the consumer in (as is apple). Are the carriers going to let the apple leverage their “all you can eat” (for now anyways) data channel when all the carriers want to be in the music download biz too? I bet not.

    I actually believe Apple is one of the few companies that can pull off an MVNO. They have the retail distribution. They have all the supporting applications in place (email, calenders, contacts, music/video).

  2. Chris Parandian Dec 8, 2006 at 2:33 pm #

    When the carriers opened up text messaging (from a walled garden and worked out the interoperability) their revenue stream on it increased 60-fold… On a different but related note, I hope they follow the same model with the Mobile TV opportunity where they can lead (instead of chase Apple in music).

    Erik – I agree with your thought regarding Apple and the MVNO opportunity. Consumers are attached to their iPods (not necessarily their carrier) and could find the iPhone too good to resist.

  3. Ian Lamont Dec 11, 2006 at 9:04 pm #

    While EMI’s mp3 policy is a step in the right direction for consumers, please do not overlook the fact that EMI continues to force other DRM technologies on customers. In many markets, the company sells copy-protected CDs which not only prevent users from creating mp3s, but in some cases also prevent users from even playing the discs on their own computers.

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