DRM disappears, my money quickly follows

I’ve been on a digital music buying spree this week — purchasing and downloading three new albums online. Despite being a voracious consumer of new music, mostly from mp3 blogs that highlight and share new tracks, I have never purchased music from the iTunes store. And I still haven’t — I purchased two albums from Amazon’s mp3 store, and one directly from the band (Radiohead).

What pushed me over the edge? Music files with no restrictions on use: no codes to key in, no limits on how many people I can share it with, or how many computers I can play them from. I have had too many bad experiences trying to play a track in iTunes that a friend gave me, only to find that I need their username and password to play it — even if they are happy to give it to me, it’s an extra step, and it reminds me that by my listening to “their” music I may be restricting them from listening to it on other computers or iPods, or sharing with other friends.

iTunes is on the right track now, offering DRM-free mp3s, but their selection is still fairly low, and I don’t enjoy the process of sifting through a lot of great (but DRM-limited and thus undesirable) music to find the unrestricted mp3s. Amazon offers a much more pleasant user experience — I know what I’m going to get: everything is unrestricted.

I didn’t realize how much of a hindrance DRM and a poor user experience had been for me — the unpleasantness of emailing friends for a password to re-activate the music they shared with you a couple months ago, the heartbreak (ok, annoyance) of finding a great album on iTunes but realizing it’s only available in DRM-protected format and so having to continue the search elsewhere — these factors just added friction to the whole music-buying process. Once those issues were resolved, I was surprised to see how quickly my wallet flew open: $30 on DRM-free digital music in one week; that’s literally more than I’ve spent in the past year.

The bounty:

Trojan Originals

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The New Pornographers: Challengers

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Radiohead: In Rainbows

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2 thoughts on “DRM disappears, my money quickly follows

  1. I have to agree – DRM-free has been a blessing. I was always too lazy to look elsewhere, so purchased quite a bit of DRM music through iTunes. I would download, burn a CD, erase it from my iTunes and then load it from the CD in order to circumvent the DRM – but that was a pain. And as you pointed out, most of my friends would not go to that effort, so I could never play their files.

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    1. Burning and re-ripping was a serious pain, AND you lose audio qualitywhen you convert to a .wav and then reconvert to .mp3. I am curious tosee who can crack the code first on all-you-can-eat always-onstreaming service – that would be a similar quality-of-lifeimprovement like the removal of DRM. I wish Apple had bought Spotifyinstead of LaLa — hope they will do something great with it though.

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