Thoughts on DRM

19Feb07

I guess this might be considered a bit late to give my thoughts on Steves “thoughts on music“, but it wasn’t until a couple days ago that I really felt the urge. And the company behind my decision? Swedish operated CDON.com

First let’s go back in time a bit however… about a week ago, I asked a friend if he thought DRM would be around in a years time. “Yes”, he said. And I have no doubt he is right. Will DRM stay with us forever though? Gizmodo thinks so, but I doubt it!

eMusic have been selling DRM-free music for quite some time, and are by far the largest legal distributor of such. The only problem is, it’s all just indie. Unknown bands that no one ever heard of. Crap music? Perhaps not, but I rarely go browsing for music without knowing what I get. Yes I know there (probably) are free previews, but you won’t see me previewing music I don’t know either!

Norway have had quite it’s share of digital music vendors over the past few years, in addition to the iTunes Store. MSN Music, Prefueled and CDON, to name a few.

The problem with them all have been that they rely on Microsofts WMA format and its DRM scheme. Not only is this a problem in the sense that DRM will stop you from getting this song onto your iPod, or in other ways do what you want with it – it will also make the file incompatible with any Mac or Linux computer.

The point with this post however, is to point you in the direction that DRM might not be the future for much longer. Already we know that other large corporations have joined Apple in the “fight” against DRM. Rumors have been abound that Amazon, among others, are pressuring labels to sell DRM-free music. Fact is: some already are.

CDON started out selling digital music in the WMA format, with Microsofts DRM. They recently expanded their selection to also include DRM-free music however. MP3 format. 192kbps. Same pricing. I decided to give it a whirl…

First off: the selection isn’t the best. And after some research, it appears they only have indie labels on board. Some of them however, are fairly big. Like Bonnier Music. With artists like Scooter, Mira Craig and Katie Melua.

Browsing around is as easy as a website can be. Previews are the same 30 second thing you find in iTunes. At CDON though, they are in wma format. Purchasing requires you to go through the same routine as you would at any webshop. Entering credit card details for each transaction. No one-click shopping here. When the order has been confirmed, you are taken to a page for download. Download was fast and painless. And it played right away on my Mac! I was less impressed with the album artwork however. First off it was a separate download (right from the order page), but it was a measly 127×128 pixels! Useless.

An area in which CDON excels, is the ability to RE-DOWNLOAD a song or album. In fact, you can download your purchases up to 3 times. Not shabby!

Do I see myself downloading more music from CDON in the future? Maybe. Maybe. It sure is more attractive than crippled music. iTunes has a lead in that it’s super easy to use, and integrated in my jukebox software. Allofmp3 has the advantage of low prices. But next on the list I would definitely put CDON.

Yes please, more DRM-free music. Don’t make me a pirate more than I have to.

 

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