Sony BMG Picks Up a Clue
Posted on January 10, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 3 Comments
Will sell DRM-free MP3s on Amazon (and presumably other places as well) after all. Thanks to the several folks who have sent along the news. One suggested Sony BMG was reading the blog; I doubt it, but the ridicule was widespread enough that they needn’t have come here to get mocked.
You have already said all that needs to be said. “Taunting the Tauntable since 1998
John Scalzi, Proprietor”
This has almost certainly been in the works for a long time now. (Caveat: I am a Sony employee though not, thankfully, a Sony BMG employee.) It was inevitable when Sony closed its music store. (You didn’t know we had a music store? Neither did anyone else!) Sony was originally using its own DRM scheme called ATRAC to device the devices it sold to its own music store. This has obviously worked well for a certain other company but not for us. Left with this failure at the market place, Sony really had to choose between using someone else’s DRM are abandoning DRM entirely. “Someone else’s DRM” really meant Microsoft’s DRM as no other scheme has had the penetration of Sony’s failed format and Apple won’t license theirs. But Microsoft has had a history of screwing people who follow their standards. (Look at the history of “Plays for Sure” and the Zune if you want a graphic example.)
Given all this, Sony had a lot of choices, all of them bad from its (often mistaken) perspective. As it watched physical sales dive while download sales rise, it had to do something.
People need to understand that the record companies aren’t “getting a clue” in regards to DRM. The movement away from it has nothing to do with the theory of DRM, etc. It has to do with the realization that Apple’s DRM was in the process of handing Apple a monopoly on music retailing and that if they didn’t do something, they were going to end up at the complete mercy of Steve Jobs.
The decisions were almost certainly made months ago, if only provisionally. Converting 200,000 songs to MP3 is not a trivial task.
I also want to pipe up and point out that Sony is a massive company. Over 150,000 spread all over the world in many industries. I very much rue the day we purchased half of BMG because those idiots have done no end of PR damage to the company.
What Steve said. Anyone who works in a major corporation knows that shiat don’t happen in so short a time.
My new guess is that the card scheme was a pressure tactic to get better terms from Amazon to get them to cave on something before another retailer had the first-in-the-market opportunity edge. A deal like that doesn’t happen overnight either.