As noted, I have my own little focus group, or as I like to think of them, real people with real thoughts about real things. Hmm, that final thing might not be true. At least two members of the group are incapable of going an entire day without debating the Tom Cruise oeuvre. My focus group can be scary at times.
Recently their thoughts, like the thoughts of many Americans, have turned to Digital Rights Management, known around Medialoper headquarters by its short name “DRM”. Not surprisingly, DRM, generally and specifically, met with universal disapproval. Here is what the group had to say:
Man, closer to 50 than he’d admit: I don’t buy from iTunes. I don’t want to listen on my iPod only. I want to put the music on CDs [very important as he has a commute and a car stereo that requires traditional CDs, not MP3s].
Me: You know, you can do it, it’s not that hard.
Him: It’s easier just to buy the CD and rip it [I am taking liberties; he said “burn it”]. I give copies to my friends.
Me, non-judgmental: You know that’s technically piracy. Home taping is killing the music industry. [This, by the way, has been proven to be untrue, but it was quite the concern back in the day]
Him: I don’t care. Why should I have to pay money every time I want to play a song on something different?
Me, no good answer: Uh…
The gentleman in question wasn’t opposed to buying music, per se. It was the hoops involved with getting the music from one format to another that bothered him. The thought that he might have to pay twice for the same music was also a deal-breaker, as it was for another member of my test group:
Man (all of today’s subjects were male): Have you heard of the Zune?
Me, again non-judgmental: Yes, Kirk has written quite a bit about the Zune.
Him: Did you know that you can’t play Zune songs on your iPod?
Me: Yes. [Kirk not only writes about the Zune, he also discusses the topic with anyone who is willing to listen]
Him: Why would I want to buy a Zune if my wife has an iPod? We can’t share music.
Other Man: You bought your wife an iPod?
First Man: Yes. She made me.
Me, thinking “you go, girl, take him for all he’s worth”, also this focus group has achieved a 100% iPod ownership rate, up from 75% in our previous session: Why don’t you just buy yourself an iPod, then you can share?
First Man: Because I don’t like Macs.
Second Man: Technically, an iPod isn’t a Mac.
There is silence as we both realize that First Man recently proved himself to be the only person in the history of the world to be unable to get his iBook online on the first try; First Man actually had to pay someone from, I believe, the phone company to assist. The cable company may have also been involved. There were multiple service calls. Second Man and I are still puzzling through this. This is neither here nor there; First Man believes that all Apple products are out to get him. His wife, however, works in the academic realm and is very pro-Mac.
First Man, now warming to his topic: It’s pretty stupid. I should only have to pay for a song once.
Me: Weren’t you the one, when we were talking about the Zune, who thought three listens to one song would be enough? You were thinking the whole squirting thing was a cool feature. [Now, I’m cringing because I still think the person who decided to call the Zune music sharing feature “squirting” should be shot.]
Second Man: It’s the principle. I don’t want to keep paying every time I buy something new.
First Man: It’s a rip-off. I don’t pay for music at all. I don’t believe in it.
[Me, resisting urge to engage in piracy lecture]
Second Man: Tom Cruise wouldn’t stand for it.
Conversation degenerates as they begin discussing Tom Cruise, circa Top Gun with a little Risky Business thrown in. I decide that my work is done. Ordinary people hate DRM.