Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The topic that my boss and I most often "discuss" when down the pub after work is that of digital rights management in the music industry. We are both of the opinion that this is impossible, that in the digital age you cannot fully protect music from being copied digitally. This will eventually also apply to movies which currently enjoy the protection of being too big to move around easily, at least for the majority of people.

Recently though I have been thinking about where the music industry should go with this in mind. Quite simple the actual music itself is right now a loss leader for the record labels, whether or not they will admit this even to themselves. They should take advantage of this.

In some ways the movie industry has the advantage over the record labels in that they have saw this happening to them with the advent of TV and video and have taken steps to rectify this. Already it is often the case that a film will make more from DVD sales than from it's release in cinemas.

I believe that the record labels should follow this approach. The should not be affraid of giving away the actual music, and then offering to consumers a product that they actually see value in, because right now people are seeing less and less value in the songs themselves. DVD singles should be the release format of choice, with high definition sound in both Dolby Digital and DVD-Audio MLP format, along with videos, features of the recording sessions, interviews, lyrics and more. All of this material is already created for most singles anyway, and DVD replication costs have come down enough to make this a feasible thing to do.

If the labels take this on board completely, as in the idea of the songs themselves as loss leaders, then they can pre-empt the illegal transfer of music by including mp3 versions of the songs in a DVD-ROM section of the disc. This would go a long way to winning over the hearts and minds of consumers.

Anyway, this is my theory, I'm sure a lot of other people have their own. What do you all think?

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