Reaction to Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Music

February 8, 2007

Screenshot of Steve Jobs statement

Reaction has been mixed: The Economist thinks Jobs is dead right, but PC Mag quotes an unimpressed Norwegian Consumer Rights Group spokesperson as follows:

“ITunes Music Store and others are unfair to consumers no matter how many download services follow the proprietary approach,” wrote Torgeir Waterhouse, a senior advisor at The Norwegian Consumer Council, in response to a letter written by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and posted on the Apple Web site on Tuesday.

More: NYT: Europe Cool to Apple’s Suggestions on Music, Digg listing on ‘Steve Jobs DRM’


‘Thoughts on music’ – Steve Jobs writes about DRM

February 7, 2007

Screenshot of Steve Jobs statement

In an unprecedented move, Steve Jobs has published a statement entitled Thoughts On Music in which he details his views on DRM. Unsurprisingly, he states that iPods can freely play music ripped from CDs and other media before laying responsibility for the increasingly unpopular rights management applied to music sold via the iTunes Music Store fairly and squarely at the feet of the big record companies:

Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI. These four companies control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music. When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied. The solution was to create a DRM system, which envelopes each song purchased from the iTunes store in special and secret software so that it cannot be played on unauthorized devices.

He then goes on to suggest three future scenarios: continuing on the current course with incompatible players and systems (not at all desirable for users), licensing Apple’s Fairplay DRM to third parties (deemed highly problematic because difficult to control) and thirdly to abolish DRM (is that cheering I hear in the distance?) with the following argument:

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

Given the growing number of European countries threatening to pursue Apple in the courts, Jobs’ statement is timely. Needless to say, the web is awash with the news, it’s excellent PR and it puts Jobs firmly on the side of the consumer.

Link: Jobs’ statement on the Apple site
Further comment: Macworld , Playlist, TechCrunch

CDRs mimic the vinyl they replace

February 5, 2007

Close-up of CDR

Sacrilegious to some, fascinating to others I guess. CDRs could certainly do with being made a little more interesting.

Link: product page
Via: Tokyomango

Brilliant music technologies video

February 3, 2007

record player

record player explodes

mono cassette player

CD player

I just stumbled across this video on an MP3 blog and think it’s absolutely brilliant. It cycles through and literally explodes a small number of key pieces of music playback hardware, ending up with what my awfully limited knowledge of Spanish translates as ‘music is never going to die’ (la musica nunca va a morir). It appears to be an ad for a Spanish design/music/technology magazine. Do follow the link below to watch it all!

(Oh and seeing one of the old cassette players with the piano keys and integrated mono speaker (do they still make them?) reminds me that I used to borrow my dad’s one – a weighty brushed metal and black plastic affair protected by a leather outer cover – and take it to school. In particularly boring lessons I’d plug in a mono ear piece, snake the wire through my jacket, plug it into the cassette recorder secreted in my school bag and listen to my recently recorded John Peel compilation tapes. This was, for sure, before the mainstream popularity of Sony Walkmans. I never did get caught…)

Link: page
Via: Original Funk Music

DRM as Tower of Babel

January 29, 2007

Tower of Babel

Cory Doctorow writes:

Eboy has posted a new graphic entitled “Tower of Incompatibabel” that very neatly makes the connection between DRM and proprietary formats and the dystopia that followed the fall of the Tower of Babel.

Link: eBoy page
Via: BoingBoing

DRM roundup

January 23, 2007

No to drm image

Record Labels Contemplate Unrestricted Digital Music

As even digital music revenue growth falters because of rampant file-sharing by consumers, the major record labels are moving closer to releasing music on the Internet with no copying restrictions — a step they once vowed never to take.

Link: NYT article

EMI Considering Dropping DRM From Its CDs

EMI Group Plc said on Monday it was reviewing its use of the controversial content protection technology used on CDs, known as digital rights management (DRM), but has not scrapped it altogether.

Link: Reuters article
Via: Gizmodo news item

Good overview of music formats in the States

January 19, 2007

Images of CD destruction

Trying to find a comfortable foothold amidst all the change is the challenge facing music labels, stores and consumers.


And perhaps downloaders haven’t given the future of their music collection enough thought. The longevity of downloads as a musical collection is surrounded by questions. Computers and hard drives become obsolete; new systems of delivery will inevitably be born.

Link: Chicago Sun-Times article

Via: Digg