Articles Tagged: emusic

Medialoper’s DRM-Free Holiday Shopping Guide

This may surprise some of you, but, DRM has been very good for Medialoper. While it’s true that the whole ‘Loper team is generally opposed to all things DRM, it just so happens that a huge segment of new readers arrive at Medialoper each day after searching Google for solutions to various DRM related problems. The sad truth is, DRM is what brought many of you to Medialoper in the first place.

While our DRM related search traffic is mostly constant throughout the year, we see a surge in traffic around the holidays. That surge peaks on Christmas day as consumers desperately search for ways break the shackles on various DRM crippled holiday gifts.

While it’s great that new readers are discovering Medialoper, we’d be happier if consumers weren’t being suckered into the DRM shell game that restricts fair use and offers no value in return.

And so, in the spirit of the holiday season, and despite our best interests, we’re happy to present Medialoper’s first annual DRM-free Holiday Shopping guide.

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Digital Content in an Ownership Society

I’ve been collecting media in one form or another since I was old enough to recognize Beatles ’65 at the White Front department store in Fresno, California. That was around 1966. I was three, and it was a very bad day for my mother.

In the years since, I watched my LP and 45 collection explode, only to be replaced by CDs, and finally to be morphed into a vast field of bits on a relatively small network storage device. Bits that I dutifully back up, maintain, and curate.

I spend more time fixing faulty ID3 tags than I care to admit. And I’m constantly annoyed when album art mysteriously goes missing (am I the only person having this problem with iTunes?).

There’s a point where it might just be easier to chuck it all and consider subscribing to one of those all-you-can-eat music services. That’s certainly what the RIAA would like me to do.

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Why I Won’t Miss iTunes

So here’s the deal: The National Music Publisher’s Association has said that they want to increase the royalty rate for each legal download from $0.09 to $0.15 per song. Apple has responded by threatening to shut down iTunes.

I assume that “iTunes” means “iTunes Music Store,” and this has nothing to do the the TV Shows, Films and Applications that also go through iTunes, because, well, that would just be stupid.

I’m not here to argue the merits of what one side will say is only a six cent increase and the other side will say is a 66% increase, nor am I going to point out that this is Apple’s way of saying that if they don’t continue to get exactly what they want, they’re going to take their ball and go home.

But I will say this: if the iTunes Music Store went away tomorrow, it wouldn’t even be a blip on my radar.

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The Sad State of Legal DRM-Free Music Services

Just six months after the launch of its mp3 music service, Amazon has emerged as the number two digital music retailer. While Apple still has a huge lead, that lead seems to be dwindling quickly.

The major labels may see this as some form of progress in their efforts to break Apple’s perceived monopoly in the digital music market, but the truth is they are very likely creating a new problem for their industry.

Despite the fact that the majors have begun licensing the rights to distribute DRM-free tracks to multiple retailers, Amazon seems to be the only company that has a clue about building a successful online marketplace. As a result, Amazon could quickly become something of a de facto monopoly for legal mp3 downloads. That’s astounding when you consider that the marketplace for unprotected music downloads should be wide open and highly competitive.

The formula for building a successful digital music marketplace seems relatively easy. Consumers want access to a wide selection of reasonably priced DRM-free music, presented in a well organized marketplace that supports all computing platforms. Retailers who expect to compete should offer decent search and discovery capabilities, and maybe even a few social features. This is 2008, after all.

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5 Ways To Improve eMusic

It’s no secret that our favorite music download service at ‘Loper HQ isn’t iTunes, but eMusic. Kirk discussed his reasons last year, and mine are pretty much the same: the wide variety of music, the great pricing, and the fact that I can do whatever I want with the music I’ve downloaded. No damn dirty DRM.

I’m not going to address the breadth and depth of the music itself, but rather the user experience. And to do that, I should very quickly explain how I use eMusic. It’s pretty simple actually: I pay $14.99 per month for 65 downloads (it’s a legacy plan), and every week, I login, go through the new music for that week, and save the things in which I’m interested in my “Saved For Later” page.

That way I don’t use up my downloads at the beginning of the month, and have to wait because something as awesome as The Hold Steady Live At Lollapalooza comes out the day after I used them up. (Of course, I could get a booster pack if that happens, but that’s not maximizing my music dollar.)

After doing it this way for the past couple of years, I’ve noticed some ways that eMusic could improve its user experience. Five ways, as it turns out, and here they are:

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