Month: November 2007

DRM is the Devil

DRM is the Devil

DRM is killing music, and it's a rip off! Paro...
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Music sales continue to go further down the toilet as distribution and sales methods continue to transition from the traditional brick and mortar approach to widespread Internet distribution.

There are people who still choose to get their music free and have a vendetta against the RIAA. While I may not agree with the practices of the RIAA, I do still believe in obtaining music legally. I therefore chose to put my trust in URGE this year as my preferred service of choice since they seemed to have the most flexible DRM restrictions and they had a large catalog to choose from.

I once sang URGE’s praises but after this debacle with Rhapsody, I no realize just how evil DRM is. I reformat my computer about once or twice a year to keep it running smoothly and remove all the gunk that gets left over by poor uninstall software. I also sure make to back up my purchased tunes so I can just throw them back in my music directory once everything’s been set up again. Since Windows Media Player 11 no longer permits me to back up licenses of songs I’ve paid for, I’ve taken precautionary measures such as keeping a copy of subscription service software around.

I received an e-mail from URGE saying it was going to be merged into Rhapsody in order to provide an even larger catalog of music. I’ve tried Rhapsody during my search for a legal music download option and I didn’t like its stringent DRM or its crappy software one bit.

I had read the FAQ saying that any tracks I had purchased off of URGE would be recognized when I signed into Rahpsody so, when I decided to reformat my computer I figured it’d just be a matter of downloading and installing the software, authorizing and getting the licenses as necessary.

Imagine my surprise when Rhapsody claims I don’t own any DRM licenses for the large collection of songs I had purchased off of URGE. I did my research to try and get my issue corrected to no avail so now I have $144+ worth of music I had bought that is now useless and unplayable. From that point I decided to stay as far away from DRM as I could. I had been burned by being the upright citizen and doing things the right way but one less than fruitful instance wasn’t going to affect my outlook on the whole legal music downloading thing.

The next mission was to find a DRM free alternative that had a large selection which I could transfer to Creative Zen Vision: M with no problems. Despite sporadic moments of weakness, I’m a staunch anti-iPod and iTunes supporter but iTunes was the only service I was aware of that carried a good chunk of restriction free songs. The problem was, my Zen didn’t support Apple’s AAC. Ah well.

I checked out Napster and hated it. To my knowledge, Yahoo! Music didn’t have any DRM free songs and I definitely did not want to install that bloated piece of crap they called a jukebox, WMP 11 works just fine for me thanks. I then remembered Amazon had quietly launched their own music downloads service.

To my delight, not only did Amazon carry a large selection of songs, they came at a cheaper price with higher audio quality and, best of all, with no DRM strings attached. Needless to say, it’s great to be able to download songs from Enrique Iglesis and Feist without being told what I can and can’t do with them. Up to this point, I’ve only had one instance where I was unable to find a tune they had I wanted (DJ Sammy’s cover of “Heaven” by Bryan Adam) which is not bad at all.

So why do I continue to support the noble causes when the temptations of free music are there? I put myself in the shoes of artists who don’t have the levity or the power to demand royalties that some of these more established artists can demand. True, if you’re making music you should do it not because it can bring fame, fortune and groupies but because it really is your passion. At the same time however, some of these people do need to put food on the table and pay their bills so I find some sort of solace in knowing my efforts may be helping people like Feist make a living.

If you’ve had your own experiences with DRM, I’d be interested in hearing how that worked out for you and what your thoughts are. For now, keep supporting your favorite artists if you like what they do.

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Seek the Musical Truth

Seek the Musical Truth

After wasting two hours of my life watching the insipid popularity contest that was the MTV Video Music Awards, I remembered why it is I’m slowly bit surely becoming more and more disillusioned with the state of popular music these days and the drivel they’ve been playing on the radio as of late.

Having been a member of eMusic for a week or so now, I’ve come to notice how much stuff gets overlooked in favor of such nonsense like “Fergalicious” or “Buy U a Drank”. Mind you, I too can appreciate popular catchy tunes like “Makes Me Wonder” and “The Way I Are”. It seems to me however, that even the tune with the most ridiculous lyrics still gets tons of attention when there are artists out there who can in fact write catchy tunes that actually have something to say.

Unfortunately, it’s these artists that are poorly marketed and thus fall under the radar and release an album that fails to sell as well as it should, like M.I.A. for example. Instead, the Billboard charts remain dominated by what’s on popular radio and the latest tune that keeps getting played over and over incessantly (I’m looking at you “Big Girls Don’t Cry”).

I wonder if perhaps this so-called sales slump the industry is currently in doesn’t have something at least partially to do with the fact that popular music in general well, it sucks. I do honestly think these labels need to go out and hunt down some good independent talent.

But there boys and girls lies another issue. For one, I’ve kept tabs on the music industry long enough to know that major labels are mostly manipulative money hungry corporations who dictate what you can and can’t release and thus stifle creativity. And that’s why so many artists who were once on major labels and had talent have gone the way of doing things on their own terms, even if that means sacrificing exposure and large sales (Aimee Mann for example).

Thus, I implore you to seek out the hundreds of musicians and singers out there who are doing their thing not necessarily for the sake of worldwide fame and money, but because they actually have a passion for music and have something to say. Just like many major label artists, I’m sure you’ll come across some indie band or something that well, they make it obvious why they remain an obscure act but for every “dud”, there’s a gem among the others that have lost (or never had) their luster.

And by all means keep supporting the major labels. Oftentimes talented artists do come along that manage to gain the acceptance of radio (Alicia Keys, Outkast) while not being some manufactured garbage. I say find a happy balance, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll come across.

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