Thursday, May 17

Amazon to launch music store with DRM free music

As predicted it's happening, the wall is crumbling. Now that apple has announced DRM free music offerings in their music store on EMI we knew soon others would follow. Amazon was as predicted the next, also partnering with EMI to sell EMI's catalogue DRM free.

Jeff Bezos puts it very clearly in the amazon press release.

"Our MP3-only strategy means all the music that customers buy on Amazon is always DRM-free and plays on any device," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO. "We're excited to have EMI joining us in this effort and look forward to offering our customers MP3s from amazing artists like Coldplay, Norah Jones and Joss Stone."

To paraphrase, "MP3-only mean it will play on any device." That's something everyday ordinary people who don't spend all day obsessing about their music can not only understand, but always have understood. The market wants MP3 and always has. It's just taken the music labels 8+ years to listen to them.

That's two major stores and one label down. About four more major labels to go.

My prediction is this holiday season will pay big rewards for Apple, Amazon, EMI and others selling DRM free music. Putting a serious haste in the step of anyone still not selling mp3's. By this time next year nearly all the major labels will be selling non-DRM music and there will be over two dozen major online music stores like Apple, Amazon and other early players like the wonderful emusic, CDbaby and innovators like ArtistShare.

Users will once again have choice, as to where they want to buy, what hardware they want to use and where they want to listen. This combined with podcasting will put an end to things like satelite radio, win and real media, digital music stores like napster that sell DRM music, and whole industry of middle players that have sprung up to serve this inequity in the market. This includes the P2P black market. Well may actually start seeing a slow down in it's explosive growth, though any decline in p2p's popularity will take years.

It occurs to me that in as little as 3-5 years time that people won't even remember what "DRM" was in the first place... that most people won't even know this battle was fought to keep the future of music, media, culture and innovation open. It's a silent fight mostly, one the majority of the public doesn't really even fully understand let alone will most realize this battle has taken nearly *10 years*, and cost billions in lost revenue. We'll be taking it for granted again in no time. In five years time music mainstream artists profits will be at an all time high and the music market will have realized it's explosion not only in profits by the major labels, but in the breadth of new music and artists in the market.

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