Industry Assesses DRM-Free Move, Reactions Mixed

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The music industry has been undergoing a significant shift away from Digital Rights Management (DRM) since 2007, when EMI and Apple announced their decision to eliminate DRM from their music downloads. This announcement was met with mixed reactions from various sectors of the industry. While some people welcomed the idea of higher-priced, higher-quality tracks, others felt that it was a misread of the digital consumer.

Former EMI digital executive Ted Cohen, who is currently the head of LA-based digital media consultancy TAG Strategic, said that the remaining major labels could either follow EMI’s lead or simply wait and watch. He also said that there were probably a lot of meetings happening in the industry, which made the terrain unpredictable.

Some high-profile managers were disappointed by the move, noting that people don’t care about higher fidelity, especially when the price is pushed higher. However, the announcement was applauded by iTunes Store competitors like RealNetworks, who said that it moves them closer than ever to the day when consumers would be able to buy their favorite music via Rhapsody and enjoy it on their iPod or any other music-playing device.

The announcement was also welcomed by other stores and providers who felt that the shackles surrounding the iPod were finally loosening. London-based digital music backend provider 7digital, for instance, positioned an MP3-based, higher quality album download from EMI artist The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and like other stores and providers, it embraced the remaining EMI Music catalog following the iTunes exclusive in May.

The decision to eliminate DRM from music downloads was a significant one because it allowed consumers to play their music on any device they chose. Before this decision, music downloads were often tied to specific devices, such as the iPod, which meant that consumers had to purchase an iPod if they wanted to play their music on the go. This decision also allowed for more competition in the digital music marketplace, which was dominated by Apple at the time.

Today, the digital music landscape looks very different from what it did in 2007. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have become dominant players in the industry, and music downloads are no longer the primary way that people consume music. However, the decision to eliminate DRM from music downloads was an important milestone in the evolution of the industry.

It showed that the major labels were willing to experiment with new business models and that they were willing to listen to the needs and desires of consumers. It also paved the way for new players to enter the market and for more competition to emerge.

In conclusion, the decision by EMI and Apple to eliminate DRM from music downloads was a significant one that had far-reaching implications for the music industry. While reactions were mixed at the time, it paved the way for more competition, new business models, and a more consumer-friendly digital music landscape. Today, it is a reminder that the industry must always be willing to adapt and evolve in response to changing consumer needs and technological advancements.