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Making Money Selling Music Without DRM 383

Posted by Zonk
from the actually-owning-your-stuff dept.
phaedo00 writes "Ars Technica's Nate Anderson has an excellent writeup on the rise of eMusic and how they're suceeding despite their unwillingness to hop on the DRM bandwagon. From the article: 'The Holy Grail of online music sales is the ability to offer iPod-compatible tracks. Like the quest for the mythical cup itself, the search for iPod compatibility has been largely fruitless for Apple's competitors, whose DRM schemes are incompatible with the iconic music player. For a music store that wants to succeed, reaching the iPod audience is all but a necessity in the the US market, where Apple products account for 78 percent of the total players sold. Perhaps that's why eMusic CEO David Pakman sounds downright gleeful when he points out that there's only two companies in the world that can sell to them--Apple and eMusic.'"
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Making Money Selling Music Without DRM

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  • It's nice to see a company that selling music in a drm-unencumbered format. It's basically doing things right - instead of locking your customers in (after they've bought a track, they find out lots of players can't play it).

    Also, eMusic supports indie artists. Really good to see, because some artists get less then half a cent [] per purchase from other online music stores.
  •,,,, There are many more. All work on the ipod. All lossess or (compressed if you want that) no drm. Admittedly the selections is small, but I'd rather have a thousand stores with lossess music and no drm than one store with a large selection.
  • by linuxbaby (124641) * on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:21AM (#15387255)
    Credit where it's due, Emusic has been selling 99-cent downloads since 1998. When Steve Jobs announced it in 2003, everyone acted like it was a shocking new revolutionary idea. But some of us couldn't help but think, "Oh, you mean like Emusic?"

    I'm an Emusic subscriber and love them, but there are LOTS of legal services out there, these days, selling good ol' MP3s (or even FLAC/OGG) with no DRM

    We keep a full list of them at [] (in 10 languages!). Though that list is meant mainly for our musician clients, it's a good permalink for a constantly-updating list of digital music sellers, with a short description of each.

    • But some of us couldn't help but think, "Oh, you mean like Emusic?"

      Correction, some of us couldn't help but think, "Oh, you mean like Emusic, only crippled?"
    • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:34AM (#15387348)
      "there's only two companies in the world that can sell to them--Apple and eMusic."

      It's rather a startling point . . .

      . . . given how many people are doing it; and have been doing it for so long. Even more startling that Ars Technica seems to be uncritically accepting the marketing claim in the article and run with the ball. It's, well . . .doofey.

      It's even more doofey that Slashdot, which has run any number of stories about outfits selling/distributing unencumbered mp3s, should perpetuate the claim, but, well, it's Slashdot.

    • and the somewhat-legal for the major-label stuff.
      That's being generous! It may be legal in Russia, but it's almost certainly not legal to download from them in Europe or the US.

      The rule is that it is legal to import stuff that you acquired abroad, if the production of that item would have been legal had it been done in the country into which you are importing it. clearly fails this test.
    • by nanojath (265940) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:42AM (#15387414) Homepage Journal
      All of MP3 may be "somewhat" legal in Russia but it is fully-non legal for Americans (or Canadians, Australians, and anybody else who is lives in a country that's signed on with international copyright laws) to buy music from them, as it says outright in their terms of service. You cannot legally make a digital copy of copyrighted material you don't already own without the permission of the copyright holder. I don't really care, honestly - I think it's a little foolish doing something that leads such an evident information trail at the same time as utilities are going out of their way to point out how contemptuous they are of your data privacy and the music industry has certainly demonstrated how sue-happy they are. Lists of honest business enterprises who are selling copyrighted material with artists' approval should not be thrown in the same list with these quasi-legal (or, to put it another way non legal) technoprofiteers.

      But I should still say thank you for pointing to that resource link, that is very cool.
      • by djmurdoch (306849) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:43PM (#15387925)
        All of MP3 may be "somewhat" legal in Russia but it is fully-non legal for Americans (or Canadians, Australians, and anybody else who is lives in a country that's signed on with international copyright laws) to buy music from them, as it says outright in their terms of service.

        I don't see any mention of Canada there, just a vague statement that it's up to you to figure out whether it is legal in your country. In fact, Canadians have a right to make copies for private use. [] This is what the levy on blank media [] pays for.
      • by mister_tim (653773) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @09:56PM (#15391085)

        All of MP3 may be "somewhat" legal in Russia but it is fully-non legal for Americans (or Canadians, Australians, and anybody else who is lives in a country that's signed on with international copyright laws) to buy music from them, as it says outright in their terms of service.

        Actually, it doesn't say that at all in their terms of service. What it says is that:

        "you should not download audio files from if the Terms are in conflict with the laws of your country of residence."

        Their FAQ also states that the use of music you download from them is dependent on the law of your own country, vis:

        "The user bears sole responsibility for any use and distribution of all materials received from This responsibility is dependent on the national legislation in each user's country of residence. The Administration of does not possess information on the laws of each particular country and is not responsible for the actions of foreign users."

        In Australia, at the moment, that presumably means I couldn't copy it to an iPod because we're not allowed under our Copyright Act to copy copyrighted songs at all without explicit permission - but that also means that we're not yet allowed to copy CDs to our computer and then to the iPod. It's a law that is more honoured in the breach than the observance.

        Perhaps you could quote the section of the Terms of Service that you thought outright stated that it was illegal for people in the countries you mentioned?

    • by mattsucks (541950) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:51AM (#15387509) Homepage
      Not to be a CDBaby fanboy (okay, EXACTLY to be a CDBaby fanboy) but if you're an artist that has listed your CD via CDBaby's digital distribution service, you are listed at eMusic :-)

      And now the shameless plug ... I know this because my band Goodwin [] is also at eMusic [], and according to our accounting reports we're getting some sales.
    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:12PM (#15387691) Homepage
      and the somewhat-legal for the major-label stuff.

      Well, it depends.

      Pot is effectively legal in the Netherlands. But that doesn't mean that Americans can import it from there. That something is legal in one country doesn't mean it will be elsewhere.

      Similarly, for people here in the US, American copyright law is in effect, and Russian copyright law is irrelevant. And the laws here prohibit downloading from allofmp3, regardless of whether they're legal in Russia or not. As I see it, if you're going to pirate music, you might as well not pay shady Russians when it's entirely possible to do it for free.

      And in an effort to prevent people from replying with misinformation, if you disagree and wish to reply, please first consider and address the following issues:
      1. That 17 USC 602(a)(2) [] by its own language is limited to the import prohibition in subsection (a) []; the prohibition in subsection (b) [] remains in force.
      2. That copies and phonorecords are defined in 17 USC 101 [] as being material objects, which means that no physical object in Russia can be moved to the US via the Internet, making section 602 [] a red herring.
      3. That the courts have stated that unauthorized downloading of copyrighted works is an infringement of the reproduction right of the copyright holder. See e.g. Napster [] and Intellectual Reserve [].
      4. That the courts will generally assign liability for the reproduction infringement to the downloader, barring unusual circumstances, like downloads that were in fact caused by a hacker, and not the user of the computer. See e.g. Netcom [].
      5. That the standard of proof used in a civil copyright case (e.g. one brought by the RIAA) is the preponderance of the evidence standard, which results in the defendant being liable if thinks that there was as little as a 51% chance that he actually did it, even if they entertain reasonable doubts (e.g. the presence of an open WAP, that there are other people able to use the computer).
      6. That 17 USC 1008 [] is inapplicable, because it does not cover downloading. See e.g. Napster [] and Diamond []. Also see the important definitions in sections 1001 [] and 101 [] and what the law would require if 1008 were applicable to computers, per sections 1002 [] and 1003 [].
      7. That just because RIAA has not sued someone yet does not mean that they cannot or will not. See e.g. the suits against Napster (which started in 1999) and the suits against users (which started in 2003). Tactical concerns, such as how to use the limited budget for legal action in the most effective way, or which
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @01:25PM (#15388197)
        It's a little sickening how you got modded up to 5 just buy throwing a lot of legal verbage (in links no less), none of which actually makes your point.

        Your own first links that you cite point out that phonographs, legally copied, are allowed to be imported. Then you point out that downloads are not physical items, and declare phonographs a "red herring".

        This is the real point, that NONE of your legalese refutes:

        These songs were legally produced in Russia; in Russia, downloading an mp3 and listening to a song are considered about the same thing; the reason the allofmp3 songs are so cheap is because you're basically paying to hear it on the radio (when you consider how many of us used to tape our favorite songs off the radio as kids when we couldn't afford to buy the cassette, this practice isn't that revolutionary).

        If the RIAA doesn't like having its music sold at the rate of radio tunes in Russia, it's free to stop doing business with companies in Russia, free to stop accepting royalties, etc.

        NOTHING in the links you posted implies that legally produced mp3s that are legally purchased and imported for personal use have been found illegal. Certainly, if you did something like share the files around with your friends on bittorrent, that would be a different story.

        But thank you for throwing up that MOUNTAIN of irrelevant legal verbage to disguise the fact that you resent having to pay .99/song off iTunes, when your "in the know" friends have been paying .9-.25/song.
        • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @02:07PM (#15388425) Homepage
          Your own first links that you cite point out that phonographs, legally copied, are allowed to be imported.

          Actually, there are significant limits on that. What 17 USC 602 does, as you'd know if you read it, is it prohibits importing phonorecords unless two conditions are both met: 1) that, had US law applied in the place where the phonorecord was made, the making of it would have been legal, and 2) that one of the three exceptions in subsection 602(a) is applicable. Just satisfying one or the other isn't good enough; it has to be both.

          So when you say, These songs were legally produced in Russia, that's not good enough. In order for 602(b) to not prohibit importation, it doesn't matter if it was legal under Russian law. It has to have been legal if US law had applied. And since US law doesn't have the same compulsory licensing scheme that allofmp3 purports to rely upon, it just doesn't work out.

          But again, all of this importation discussion is a red herring. When you download, you are not importing. You are reproducing.

          So to sum up, you said: NOTHING in the links you posted implies that legally produced mp3s that are legally purchased and imported for personal use have been found illegal.

          And you are utterly wrong. It is impossible to import an mp3 by means of downloading it. This is because the statute deals with importing phonorecords. A phonorecord is defined in the law as a material object, such as a CD, or a vinyl record. If you can download one of those, as opposed to the information on it, I'll be impressed. For your next trick, you can download a sandwich. Furthermore, even if you were importing them -- which would basically have to be through the mail or via a courier or something -- that would be illegal because there's really just no way to get around section 602(b).

          If you had bothered to read the relatively small amount of entirely on-point legal documents, you wouldn't have made a fool out of yourself. Let's hope you don't do so again.

          you resent having to pay .99/song off iTunes, when your "in the know" friends have been paying .9-.25/song.

          Actually, I've never used iTMS. I think it's a rip-off. And I don't resent people who pirate music, whether it's on Allofmp3 or wherever. I think that it ought to be legal for people to download music for free.

          What I don't like is people spreading misinformation about the law. If someone is making a decision whether or not to break the law, I think they should be fully informed. And I think that in order to rally support for changing the law to reduce the scope of copyright, people are going to need to have accurate information as to just how bad copyright is now.
          • by 955301 (209856) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @02:40PM (#15388657) Journal
            bzzzzt, wrong again.

            17 USC 602 deals with "copies or phonorecords". Not copies *of* phonorecords.

            And as you yourself just said, "When you download, you are not importing. You are reproducing." Reproducing is copying my verbose friend. And you are off again - sending something over the wire is also considered importing.

            Or have you forgotten the old export controls on cryptographic software transmitted oversears already? You can't have it both ways you know, unless you are saying uploaded is exporting and downloading isn't importing?

            Finally, quoting the statute,

            "This subsection does not apply to-- ...
            (2) importation, for the private use of the importer and not for distribution, by any person with respect to no more than one copy or phonorecord of any one work at any one time, or by any person arriving from outside the United States with respect to copies or phonorecords forming part of such person's personal baggage; "

            again, copies or phonorecords. If you the copy is just for yourself or part of your baggage if you physically came through the borders there is no issue.

            • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:13PM (#15388861) Homepage
              17 USC 602 deals with "copies or phonorecords". Not copies *of* phonorecords.

              A copy of a phonorecord is also a phonorecord. Take a look at the definition at 17 USC 101.

              And you are off again - sending something over the wire is also considered importing. Or have you forgotten the old export controls on cryptographic software transmitted oversears already?

              I know them, and there are still controls of this nature. However, those regulations, which were enacted by an administrative agency, rather than Congress, specifically define exportation as encompassing Internet transmissions. Congress, on the other hand, has not so defined importation for purposes of copyright law. The agency definition isn't particularly relevant, as it's not of Congressional origin, and deals with an entirely different subject matter. If you want to argue about what copyright law says, you're going to have to do so based on copyright law, not something entirely unrelated. This might seem odd to you, but it's a fairly ordinary situation.

              If you the copy is just for yourself or part of your baggage if you physically came through the borders there is no issue.

              Except of course, that 602(a)(2) only applies to the ban on importation in subsection (a). It does not apply to the independent ban on importation in subsection (b), which you are still failing to address.

              And of course, Allofmp3 has nothing to do with importation anyhow, as I've shown. That's why you had to resort to an example involving baggage, which certainly isn't involved in most people's transactions with Allofmp3.
  • Forums (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Freexe (717562) * <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:21AM (#15387257) Homepage
    eMusic is a really great site and I use up my 90 track limit in the first few days of every month.

    My only problem with it is there is no easy way to request certain artists and albums and get feedback when the albums finally do get added (this is even more true in the UK, not all the tracks are available to download just yet).
    • Re:Forums (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:39AM (#15387395)
      I was an eMusic customer for over a year, but I left because a subscription-based service doesn't work for me. I ended up with songs I wouldn't have downloaded otherwise (and never listened to afterwards) just to use up my monthly allotment. Since it's track-based, you may end up paying about the same as if you bought an album with many tracks on iTunes for the "whole album" price. Plus, you're stuck with music in a compressed format with no tangible goodies (liner notes, etc.).

      That said, for what you get, it's a great deal. They have a lot of out-of-print music and spoken word recordings (Irish folk music, Asian folk music, Jello Biafra's rants, etc.). Now that they carry the Naxos and Harmonia Mundi lines, you can get great classical recordings as well. If you're a Premium subscriber, you get your monthly allotment of tracks for 22 cents each; even if you're on one of the other subscription plans or buying more tracks a la carte, you still pay no more than 50 cents per track. That's a great price point, *if* they have the tracks you want.
      • by Freexe (717562) * <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:02PM (#15387604) Homepage
        I've been using up my 90 track limit so quickly I'm thinking about getting some bonus tracks (mostly to get the bands that will be playing at the festivals).

        But saying that, one of the things I like is that I actually listen to all the music I download now, all of it.

        Before with soulseek, I would often download so much stuff that I would listen to some of it only once, and never come across it again. I often put my music collection on random, and I lost track of alot of music that I liked.

        Now I have a whole month to listen to, rate, read about and fully tag my downloads for that month before I move the good ones onto my mp3 player for while I'm on the move and send the crappy ones to digital heaven/hell.
      • by Wdomburg (141264) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:26PM (#15387804)
        See, only issue with the subscription based service for me is that I end up using my allotment long before the month is over. I'm tempted to upgrade to 90 tracks a month because of my current backlog, but I'm not sure I'd have time to really absorb that much new music in a month.
  • by Laurentiu (830504) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:22AM (#15387263)
    You bet eMusic is looking forward to the Slashdot effect ;)

    But we should also give credit where credit is due and mention that Magnatune ( []) has been doing this for years. The buyer chooses what he wants to pay per album - in fact, if you're a cheap bastard, you may download a full album for as little 5$ in the format of your choice: MP3, WAV, OGG, FLAC or AAC.

    And I love their motto: "We are not evil." Now, where else did we hear that phrase?
    • by Amouth (879122) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:56AM (#15387553)
      I love magnatune - they have a great setup and they "are not evil" - the only thing i wish they would change is that if you buy the CD that the cd be one with album art if there is any, All the albums that i have gotten have been the generic case and label..

      if anyone knows if there is a way to get them with album art please tell me i havn't found it yet.
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:25AM (#15387288)
    If anyone is looking for digital downloads of techno and electro music, check out [] ... No DRM, 320kbs downloads (with uncompressed .wav files comming in the future), and it was started by Mad Mike of Underground Resistance and Submerge Records so it's got street cred. :)
    • by uqbar (102695) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:57AM (#15387570)
      It's good to see Mad Mike keeping true to his vision. Since the time he first released "Message to the Majors" a lot had changed in the industry - much of it for the worse.

      For a lot of us in underground music scenes like techno, rap and punk taking control of the means of production and distribution has been a huge goal - and slowly technology has enabled that vision. DRM schemes run contrary to this spirit and stores like iTunes may be hip, but they aren't nearly as benevolent as their fans believe.

      Hopefully we'll see more underground music stores like this. While it pains me to see my neighborhood record store go, if that is the cost of eroding and maybe ending the stranglehold of the majors, so be it.
    • by radish (98371) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:07PM (#15387659) Homepage
      And of course beatport, audiojelly, playittonight and many others. All the dance labels seem remarkably sensible about this kind of thing, which is great.
    • by sunburntkamel (834288) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:26PM (#15387798) Homepage
      all this mention of dance/electronic labels and nobody mentions WARP? BLEEP [] is a fantastic store that sells both compressed MP3's and lossless FLAC's. when bleep first came out, their goal was to provide digital versions of previously vinyl-only albums, as well as making WARP's entire backcatalog available. they're still not there yet, but they're doing a whole lot better than most labels, who seem to think that buying records is a privilege to be doled out as they see fit.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:28AM (#15387305) Homepage Journal
    ..of companies that make money selling digital music without DRM, look at just about every company that has sold CDs for the last 20 years. It's not like the model hasn't already proven itself. Even the big media companies know they can profitably sell unDRMed stuff, because that's how they became big media companies. DRM is a "solution" looking for a problem.
  • Not exactly accurate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nanojath (265940) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:29AM (#15387307) Homepage Journal
    It's simply false to say there are only two companies selling digital music online that is compatible with iTunes. Two major companies, perhaps, but there are lots of people legally selling MP3s - from artists who are selling their own product independently to Bitpass' music experiment Mperia. It's unfortunate that as yet these sorts of outlets haven't managed to leverage some combination of blogging, feeds, aggregation and online community to simulate something like a unified entity, so that people would notice they were there. I really wonder what the real impact of these sorts of things are - I'm sure I'm not typical but for several years now I've been getting more music from these truly alternative sources (what's eMusic I'd count as alternative mainstream, still pretty solidly within the label system though clearly a different league - though not always a more enlightened one - than Sony, Universal et al). And I know nobody is counting that shit, speaking of lost sales and suchlike.
  • Emusic Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by mpcooke3 (306161) * on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:31AM (#15387326) Homepage
    The emusic linux download really sucked when I last used it.

    I ended up ditching it because it was so hard to download albums. Their binary file was linked to some .so file that didn't exist on fedora - and that wasn't the only problem. Even downloading the albums in a zip file would have been better than nothing.

    Their support was also less than helpful.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:44AM (#15387442)
      Don't waste your time with the eMusic provided *nix download manager; there is an excellent opensource alternative written in Java called "eMusic/J" (though it's developed by a third-party): []
    • Re:Emusic Linux (Score:3, Informative)

      by pesc (147035) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:31PM (#15387834)
      The emusic linux download really sucked when I last used it.

      I ended up ditching it because it was so hard to download albums. Their binary file was linked to some .so file that didn't exist on fedora

      Yes the download manager sucks, but it is easy to fix this.

      Click on "Your account"
      Click on "Change Download Manager"
      Click on the button that Disables the eMusic download manager
      Now you can download any song by right-clicking on the download button and select "Save as..."
  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:31AM (#15387329) Homepage Journal
    I'm getting the impression that a lot of people/business seem to think that selling music without Digital Restrictions Management and other anti-consumer technology is somehow difficult or not expected to be successful. Um, hello? Does nobody remember the Cassette era, when purchased music was freely recordable and many players had two decks in order to facilitate copying? I don't recall any sort of music industry collapse back then. Sure we didn't have the internet back then, but people still traded music. A lot.

    *SHOCK* *AWE* You can make money selling music that people can freely copy? ZOMG!!1!

    Businesses who think that selling unrestricted music that people can freely copy need only look to the bottled water industry to see that it's possible. In the west we have (effectively) free, clean drinking water, yet people spend billions each year buying it from stores. Sure, anyone can "turn on the tap" of the internet and get their fill of mp3s, but that doesn't mean stores can't make a huge profit selling those exact same mp3s.

    Bottled water sells because of psychological tricks and convenience. MP3s can sell the same way.

    • by Frankie70 (803801) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:39AM (#15387391)

        Does nobody remember the Cassette era, when purchased music was freely recordable and many players had two decks in order to facilitate copying? I don't recall any sort of music industry collapse back then. Sure we didn't have the internet back then, but people still traded music. A lot.

      Few things
      - I assume you had to make 10 copies of the cassette for 10 of your
      friends - you would have spend a few hours doing it - with digital files you
      could email it to 10 of your friends in 10 seconds.

      - There was no cost associated with emailing it to 10 of your friends. Back then,
      you would have to buy 10 blank cassetes to tape on.

      - Assume you had a copy, anyone could look at it & tell that it was a copy,
      not a paid for one. You can't with a digital file.

      - The only people you could copy was for your friends, here you could post it
      for the whole population of the world to download.
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:24PM (#15387786)
        Yes and no.

        The largest content torrent that I've seen had about 750 leechers on it.

        The *typical* large torrent has bout 120 seeders to 120 leechers. This is usually anime or a 1st run television show that was just shown.

        However 99% of content torrents that I've seen has 1 to 2 seeders and 8 to 20 leechers.

        It costs money and time to store downloaded material- and there is *always* a chance you will lose it.

        There is a *solid* market for a copy (Vongo perhaps?) that sells me a lifetime license to a song/show/movie/book/etc. and stores a copy on their end.
        They then charge a *reasonable* re-download fee (say 10% of the minimum wage), a reasonable annual storage fee (say 2 cents per gigabyte- a typical 400 movie library is about 1600 gigabytes- but they only have to keep 1 copy of each for "N" users) and allow me to re-download the song/show/movie/book/etc. a reasonable number of times per year (say once per year) with a small number of floating downloads which allow me to download twice for when things go wrong (an exceptions for cases where I can show them a police report).

        But seriously--- most torrents are very small and it takes days (weeks...) to download things. There were a few things on emule (not a torrent) that took literally almost 3 month to download. I think almost anyone would pay some money to get it *now* vs getting it 3 months from now (or 12 days from now).

        If the media cartel had not driven prices up so high (-- $20 mil for an actor? Should be more like $500,000-- with similar reductions all along the food chain with movies costing $5 to see as a result). However, they have raised their prices so high that people are finding many other less expensive forms of entertainment.
      • by GeckoX (259575) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:43PM (#15387921)
        That's a great argument, if it didn't completely remove the ability for people to think for themselves and do the right thing.

        You are propagating the bs stance that the record companies want us to swallow hook line and sinker: Because it's so easy, EVERYONE will obviously be a criminal, how could they not when it's so easy?

        Do you have trouble walking past a candy rack at the variety store without slipping one in your pocket? No? Why not?

        Now, you get a file sent to you in the mail. It's a song. It doesn't happen to say who paid for it or what rights might go along with it. Aha! It's free! It's Mine All Mine!!! Well, that's what you are implying...thanks for taking away my ability to think for're a lawyer right?

        Society is built up on mutual trust. All of it. Without that, our society DOES NOT EXIST. There is a VERY long running tradition of trust between a seller and a buyer...if there wasn't, markets wouldn't work. For a long time, the music industry trusted us to purchase rather than steal their products...and they also realized that as a bonus, the few that would choose to steal end up generating more desire and hype for their products, enough to by FAR outweigh the losses incurred (Not losses actually, revenue that never existed to be precise), and actually INCREASED REVENUE. It was at this time, when they figured this out, that dual cassette decks became all the rage.

        Well, now the trust is completely one sided. The big music distributors offer less than zero trust, in fact, they accuse us of being untrustworthy to the utmost. And yet, most of us still place our trust in these companies. What The Fuck. Really now.

        The answer is more than simple. Don't do business with companies that aren't worthy of doing business with. If EVERYONE quit paying a buck a song, a buck that almost NONE of even goes to the artist (whom we're constantly told we're stealing from can we be stealing when actually buying an album brings no revenue to the artist anyways? But that's another point...), these practices would end OVER NIGHT. DRM could be completely gone in a WEEK, IF we'd stand up for our rights and make GOOD PURCHASING DECISIONS.

        Too bad we're too fucking lazy to be bothered. Thanks kiddies.
    • OT: Bottled Water (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:44AM (#15387445) Homepage Journal
      Bottled water sells because of psychological tricks and convenience. MP3s can sell the same way.

      Actually bottled water sells because a lot of municipalities chlorinate their water, making it taste like shit.

      Although it's true that marketing and convenience play a large part too (people buying bottled water even though they have good-tasting tap water, or well water), but it's not always purely marketing.

      I drink bottled water only because the tap water in my office tastes like it came from the shallow end of the local Y's swimming pool, and de-chlorinating it (by leaving it in an open-topped container) isn't really practical.
    • by mypalmike (454265) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:05PM (#15387637) Homepage
      Bottled water sells because of psychological tricks and convenience.

      Actually, I buy 5-gallon jugs of it as drinking water to avoid getting the fluoride [] that is put in tap water in the US.

      Further, likening the sale and marketing of a human necessity to something as trivial and ethereal as popular music is doomed to be a poor analogy.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:13PM (#15387696) Journal
      Yes, and cassette copies were lossless, too. /sarcasm. A copy of a copy sounded like crap, and that doesn't hold for digital music. Unlimited generations of copies for digital music is a lot different than max two generations for cassettes.

      Not siding with the industry here, just playing a bit of devil's advocate.
      • by Ossifer (703813) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @01:19PM (#15388166)
        Did you really buy pre-recorded cassettes? Anyone would who would should never be concerned about sound quality--it started as crap.

        Most people made quality cassette copies from vinyl. You would get together with friends and make copies of each other's LPs. It was all very social, unlike to day, where geeks sit at home, alone in their parents' basements or attics and download tons of digital music (most of which they won't ever listen to) whilst masturbating...
  • by zephc (225327) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:34AM (#15387351)
    Keep chasing that shining, blinking, fruit-shaped prize, Pakman!

    P.S. watch out for ghosts.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:46AM (#15387468)
    "The Holy Grail of online music sales is the ability to offer iPod-compatible tracks. Like the quest for the mythical cup itself, the search for iPod compatibility has been largely fruitless for Apple's competitors, whose DRM schemes are incompatible with the iconic music player."

    This article makes it seems that Apple compatibility is holding back companies from selling music online. An iPod will play MP3s. The problem is that the studios will not allow anyone to sell music online without DRM. FairPlay was Apple's solution to this problem. Apple doesn't want to license it, and that's their choice and right. So these companies don't have many choices, but Apple wasn't the one that created the problem. They found a solution that works for them.

  • E-music URL (Score:5, Informative)

    by rueger (210566) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:04PM (#15387628) Homepage
    Which bizarrely has not yet been posted here. []
  • by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:06PM (#15387647) Homepage
    Other posters have pointed out companies other than eMusic who are selling non-DRM MP3 downloads. Another is Bleep []. Originally it was far-out electronica from the Warp label, but other labels are on board now, including stuff that's definitely not electronica.
  • by ghostlibrary (450718) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:06PM (#15387648) Homepage Journal
    The article kept talking about 'indie', but missed the fact that emusic has a huge back catalog of classic rock and earlier. You want Deep Purple or Eric Burdon, they've got it. It's easy to get much of what you hear on classic rock radio. And since so many (too many) stations are switching to 'classic rock', this must mean people want it.

    They also have live stuff. Interested in Colin Hay's solo takes on 'Men at Work', or (back to Deep Purple) live Deep Purple? And what they call indie, I'm not so sure-- Tom Waits gets a lot of media coverage and movie deals for an 'indie'. He's there.

    They also have a phenomenal jazz and blues section, which is yet another niche not served. Miles Davis or Charlie Parker aren't "indy", after all. And there's folk, and celtic, and world. It's that 'long tail' model. Basically, emusic has a mix of radio stuff, and all the stuff you can't buy on CD at your local Walmart anyway.

    I guess I'm tired of anyone not carrying the latest pop being labeled 'indie', particularly given pop's tendency to forget the past. I don't want this to be a commercial for eMusic, just a note that they are offering the kind of stuff that you can hear by dial-hopping on radio, but can't find in most big box stores. That's more than just 'indie'.
  • by Stick_Fig (740331) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:11PM (#15387686) Homepage
    I've been gushing over eMusic for a while, simply because they've just gotten it so right. With their model, they understand, beyond the whole record store mentality, what it means to be a music fan. And you just don't get that with iTunes or (especially) Napster.

    There's just something graceful about a service that surprises you with new bands all the time. I've been able to wade my toes into genres that I wouldn't have touched otherwise, like twee-pop. (Heavenly is a great band.)

    It's nice to know that these guys are not only successful, but they're successful in all the right ways. I have a feeling that there'll be a point where eMusic gets so successful that the major labels have to start taking notice and talking to them more seriously. Beyond the lack of DRM, they just do so many things right.

    • by LMacG (118321) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:33PM (#15387847) Journal
      I'll dissent . . .

      1) At CompUSA, I was given a card that offered me 100 free downloads, over the course of 30 days. When I tried to sign up, that turned into 50 downloads/14 days. To their credit, after questioning them, they did offer me the additional 50 songs if I signed up, which I did. (But the trial was still for only 14 days).

      2) My renewal date was listed on my account as April 14th. Being a good procrastinator, I still had a large chunk of that 100 songs on my account on the 14th. I scanned through the listings that day while working, but because of the corporate net-nanny, I couldn't download till I got home. Which I started to do, and then POOF, my "available balance" changed. The renewal (and conversion of my account to paid status, and $9.99 charge to my card) had gone through at 6:04 PM. WTF? I guess it was midnight somewhere, or something.

      3) They have two albums by Glen Tilbrook (previously of Squeeze). But they weren't listed together. The name was spelled the same, there was no discernible difference. If you searched on his name, you'd find one of them, but if you found him listed as an influence or a "worked with" for somebody else, you'd find the other one. Made me wonder what else I might not have been finding.

      I still believe they have a great idea (although I liked it better a long time ago when you could buy individual tracks without the subscription). Right now I'd say they're a little shaky on the customer service side, and there might be a few bugs in their database. So it was not quite a joyful experience for me.
  • In spite of the "in bed with Microsoft" complaints back in the early days of BootlegTV (and Fripp's providing "effects" music for the upcoming Vista release), when finally opened its shop, the music was and is released in non-DRM formats. MP3 albums for $9.95, or FLAC (lossless compression) for $12.95.
  • by Control-Z (321144) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:22PM (#15387763)
    I was a subscriber to the old emusic years ago, and I still listen to many of the songs I downloaded. And I downloaded LOTS.

    The new emusic with the download restrictions isn't as attractive to me because I like to download entire albums, but I see they've added a 90 downloads for $19.95 a month option, that's not too bad. I might subscribe again for a few months.

  • by chub_mackerel (911522) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:32PM (#15387846)

    TFM mentions that EMusic used to have a subscription with unlimited downloads, but that since it cost them around 8 cents/download the revenue model didn't scale up for high-volume downloaders. Thus they adopted tiered rates and limited downloads.

    They're oh, so close! They just went the wrong direction:

    They need an E-Music file-sharing application! It could be just like (the original) Napster, run off their own servers, checking a custom ID3 tag to verify that shared files on the network are all legit E-Music files (this would also enable them to track download stats for various songs).

    This would make it profitable to remove the download limit, and let people share songs directly. Just like the original Napster, but all legitimate, non-RIAA stuff. I'D PAY $10/month for that, no question.

    THIS IS HOW THEY GET THEIR MILLION SUBSCRIBERS! (Not that they're listening to /. rants.)

    As the service now stands, however, I tried a month of E-Music, but cancelled after that. I hate feeling "on the meter" with song downloads. I want to browse, listen, follow my stream of musical interest whereever it leads, and not have to worry about racking up ten bucks' worth of charges in the process.

  • It's always puzzled me why the music and movie publishers are so obsessed about the possibility of "exact digital copies." The commercial success of indifferently remastered "AAD" or "ADD" albums, or mediocre DVD transfers of slightly worn or dirty film, shows that the public puts only a small value on technical state-of-the-art perfection.

    I've also thought, quite seriously, that a good way out of the DRM impasse would be to retain all the technical garbage and lockdown of current DRM systems, with one important difference. If the DRM system thinks you might not be licensed to use the content, it should not deny you access at all. Instead, it should merely introduce a small amount of degradation, comparable to the amount introduced by an analog copy made on decent consumer equipment. (And twice as much for a second-generation copy, three times as much for the third generation, and so forth).

    The prospect of being locked out of content I've purchased if the software is buggy or the vendor goes out of business or there's no practical mechanism for transferring the license of another machine... or not being able to give a copy to a friend or relative... infuriates me. The prospect that I (or my friend or relative) might have to be content with a level of quality corresponding to, say, a CD-to-cassette copy made on a boombox, is something I think I could live with quite happily.
  • by dodongo (412749) <> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:48PM (#15387954) Homepage
    I've never paid for a tune from iTunes -- and since discovering, I probably never will.

    Everyone else in the thread has already said it, but I just wanted to add to the chorus of people urging emusic virgins to check the service out.

    In addition to picking up new music from old favorites like Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, and The New Pornographers, their insightful reviews and helpful, music-lover-friendly emails have led me to find a bunch of new music I love. Calexico, Tarkio, Gomez.. A bunch of random electronic tracks... Oh, and a bunch of B-3 jazz / blues, like Tony Monaco, Jimmy Smith, Joey DeFrancesco, et al.

    Seriously, it's great. It's like Christmas every month when the downloads renew and I can go grab a couple more albums. I dig it :)
  • Barenaked Ladies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crossmr (957846) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @12:52PM (#15387974) Journal
    I think even more influential is the Barenaked Ladies initiative they've had on this entire issue.
    I attended a concert in December and purchased a coupon I could redeem at the website for a live recording of that concert. I finally got around to downloading it last week. No DRM, various formats I could download in (either tracked or two huge mp3s perfect for burning)
    as well as PDFs of CD covers and inserts that could be printed.

    I could also purchase any of the other shows they've done, as well as some other things.

    Couple that with the fact that they seem to be a major force behind: []

    and you've got one great band that hasn't let me down in 15 years.

    Its nice that a retailer is pushing no DRM, but I think its more important for the artists to get together like they have here. This should be a more important message because its what the artists really want, the retailers are just middle men and their opinion shouldn't hold that much weight with the lawmakers and standards.

  • money? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VoxCombo (782935) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @01:10PM (#15388116)
    I agree with a lot of people that eMusic is a great service, and a great deal. I use it, in fact. But I didn't see anywhere in the article where it mentioned that emusic is actually making money. There is a section wth the heading "is it making money" in which they don 't actually answer that question........they just spew some facts about market share.

    Last I heard, eMusic was hemorraging money. I guess they're suffering the same fate as many dot-coms - great idea, great service, losing money big time.
  • by J. Random Luser (824671) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:29PM (#15388987)
    The ability to offer iPod-compatible tracks? Sheesh the iPod can play
    MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store, M4A, M4B, M4P), Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4) and WAV. Specs []
    and that's the cheap Shuffle. Unprotected AAC is often described as mp4. If eMusic is the only outfit that can make a business model of this, then the others deserve to die...

    My big regret is that Fraunhofer gave up the fight and MP3 became the de facto standard, rather than the technically superior MP4.
  • "indie" and eMusic (Score:3, Informative)

    by sphere (27305) * on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @03:47PM (#15389114) Homepage Journal
    Here's just a sampling of the better-known independent labels on eMusic: Dischord, Merge, Touch and Go, Matador, Rykodisc, Concord Jazz, Shanachie, Smithsonian Folkways, Buda, K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Teenbeat, Epitaph, Fat Possum, and the list goes on....

    Not everything off of these labels are on Emusic, but quite a bit of it is (Fugazi for example).
  • by figa (25712) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @04:35PM (#15389455) Journal

    I was amazed to RTFA and find myself accurately described by their CEO. In college I spent all my money on music, and when I started working full-time, I dumped a lot of cash on CDs. After I had kids, I stopped going to clubs, I didn't spend much time hanging out with friends listening to music, and I lost touch with current trends in music. I rode out the electronic/lounge/trip-hop wave of the 90s, and found myself bored with my discs but unwilling to drop $20 to try anything new. I all but stopped buying CDs about four years ago.

    I tried eMusic I think around 2000, when they were an all-you-can-download service, and I didn't find much that appealed to me. I came back about two years ago, and now I'm on eMusic's biggest subscription package with 400 items in my save for later list. At my subscription level, albums cost under $3, so I don't hesitate to download anything, and I find it to be an aging indie rocker's dream come true. Probably half of my iPod is filled with eMusic, and I'm happy that it's not taking up any space in my apartment.

    I really only have a few complaints about eMusic:

    1. The Linux client doesn't really work. I had to set up tinyproxy to handle its socket connections. You can download without the client, but it's tedious.
    2. I wish they'd let me buy a bigger subscription. The bonus packs aren't as cheap per track as the subscription. I'd like to download an album a day.
    3. The track tagging isn't all that great. Sometimes they're in title case, sometimes not, the genres aren't always a good fit, and the download manager puts spaces in filenames. They don't include album art, so you have to scrounge that up on your own.
    4. The save for later lists are limited to 100 entries and get a little unmanageable if you overdo it.

    I can't recommend them enough, and I hope they continue to succeed.

Life's the same, except for the shoes. - The Cars