Friday, February 24, 2006

music: iTunes music store is not the end-all

This iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served rant is mostly on-target. As I wrote in my comments,
Soon every electronic device will play MP3/AAC files, but only Apple-branded ones will play iTunes-purchased songs. That just sucks for consumers who want to buy music downloads!!

The rant got picked up by slashdot, and the Apple fanboys just don't get it. "Shut up l0s3r, I like my iPod, the song price is reasonable". As if that makes locked-up music OK?! Somehow the musical output of the artists is less important than the coolness of your current hardware device? Lucky, lucky Steve Jobs. Hey, I want to be buried with my Rega Planar 3, but because it's the gateway to my vinyl collection.

I guess my $50 donation wasn't enough to get iTunes 6.0's DRM protection cracked :-) While waiting I could burn iTunes protected content to CD, but re-ripping unprotected just further degrades the quality. Mr. Hawk's idea to buy second-hand CD's, rip the tunes you like, then resell, is a better alternative, yet it gives nothing to the artists. (I'm one of the few people who ever contributed to the now-defunct Fairtunes system for directly compensating artists.)

I support a Collective Licensing system that these guys and the EFF suggest, except without the voluntary. $5 of your monthly ISP bill goes to a pool, and you can download as much as you want; the pool of money gets split up according to popularity. "Nearly every musician would stand to benefit immediately from this system: signed musicians would receive a much larger cut, and musicians could distribute their music at zero cost--and get paid--without even signing to a label." Such a system would cut out inefficiencies, give more to artists, eliminate DRM hassles, vastly reduce piracy, and it gives consumers a huge incentive to pay for broadband. As wise man John Gilmore wrote, right now the small content industry is the tail wagging the dog of the huge communication industry.

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