Sony made news recently by announcing they’d sell DRM-free music, thereby becoming the last major record company to abandon DRM.
However, get a load of how they’re doing it. Instead of a simple approach via Amazon or the iTunes Music Store (like their competitors), both of which provide fairly complete and seamless customer experiences, Sony’s decided to re-invent the wheel with an approach so utterly braindead that it beggars belief:
To obtain the Sony-BMG tracks, would-be listeners will first have to go to a retail store to buy a Platinum MusicPass, a card containing a secret code, for a suggested retail price of $12.99. Once they have scratched off the card’s covering to expose the code, they will be able to download one of just 37 albums available through the service, including Britney Spears’ “Blackout” and Barry Manilow’s “The Greatest Songs of the Seventies.”
In contrast, online retailer Amazon.com offers 2.9 million DRM-free tracks in MP3 format from the catalogs of EMI Group, Warner Music Group, Universal Music and a host of independent record labels. Apple’s iTunes Store has around 2 million DRM-free tracks in the AAC format supported by its iPod and many mobile phones. No store visit is necessary to download those tracks, and an album typically sells for $9.99 or less.
- Only 37 albums will be available; and
- Customers must visit a physical retail store and purchase a $12.99 “MusicPass” card in order to download the MP3s.
Wow. Just wow. How could they have missed the point more? Why on earth would a music-consuming teen even bother, when nearly everything is on the darknets for free anyway?
Don’t miss John Scalzi’s take, by the way, which is hilarious. Sample line: “So to recap, what you’ve got here is a system that makes people leave their house in order to download music at their house, and makes them go to a store to get music that they could get at the store, somewhere else.”