Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Posted by Dave
Following hot on the heels of Branson dumping Virgin Megastores it seems that Virgin Digital, some sort of lame unpopular DRMed music service I didn't even know existed is closing down. Fair cop, there's been a massive collapse in CD sales and that's lead to the destruction of whole chains of shop, pretty much now leaving only HMV - who of course devote just as much space, hell more space, to DVDs and games than they do CDs these days. It's the end of an era and they're moving with the times.
The thing that really surprised me though was that this lame DRMed music store thing ends up saying "If you have purchased tracks from the service then we recommend that you back up your music files – Information about backing up and re-downloading your tracks." This is, of course, precisely the reason DRM is lame. And what does their instructions for backing up your DRMed tracks conclude? Why to burn onto a CD and then re-rip as MP3 of course!
That's just priceless. At a stroke demonstrating the sheer pointlessness of this bullshit. Why wouldn't you buy it on CD in the first place, so you've got a nice physical back-up immune from the shop going bust, and then rip to MP3 without any loss in audio quality from transcoding? You fucking wouldn't. Or you'd just go and warez the damn stuff because it's so easy.
So in one sense the death of bricks and mortar CD shops is inevitable but on the electronic side this just crashes into the whole issue of music publishers not having any clue. I find myself having to spell it out for them yet again. If you sell an album, in high-quality MP3 format, and I want that album and you're selling it for LESS THAN THE CD, then I will buy it. Otherwise I'll just go and download it from somewhere.
No fucking around. Flog it on a music service with paypal or google checkout to make it all nice and fast. £5 for the album, click bosh you've got £5. You've made it easy for me to do, just as easy as warezing it but it's clearly worth money to me because I like the artist. So I'll pay. Five quid is, just to clear it up with your accountants, rather better than zero quid. It's a numbers game and the object of the excersize is to leverage the huge audience you potentially have with a high degree of conveinience. Running around trying to prop up the unit prices of albums just doesn't work any more, it's fucking over. We wont pay a tenner for a fucking CD any more, deal with it!
But we DO listen to more music than we ever did before. So start thinking how to take a reasonable slice of action for delivering a service that we want. Just like any other proper business.