Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From Napster to Amazon: A Yahoo! insider's DRM history and projections

This gentleman has been around -- from WinAmp's Napster-associated glory days to an exec position at Yahoo! Music. He says Yahoo! is done with DRM ... (for music, anyway!)

Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends at FISTFULAYEN

... But now, eight years later, Amazon’s finally done what was clearly the right solution in 1999. Music in the format that people actually want it in, with a Web-based experience that’s simple and works with any device. I bought tracks from Amazon (Kevin Drew and No Age), downloaded them, sync’d them to my new iPod Nano, and had them playing in my home audio system (Control 4) in less than five minutes. PRAISE JESUS. It only took 8 years.

8 years. How much opportunity have we lost in those 8 years? How much naivety and hubris did we have when we said, “if we build it they will come”? What did we spend? And what did we gain? We certainly didn’t gain mass user adoption or trust, two prerequisites to success on the Internet.

Inconvenient experiences don’t have Web-scale potential, and platforms which monetize the gigantic scale of the Web is the only way to compete with the control you’ve lost, the only way to reclaim value in the music industry. If your consultants are telling you anything else, they are wrong...

It's a great history lesson as well as a sign of the times.

There may be grounds for optimism with music DRM, but I think the story will be a bit different for video. I'd still watch the next transition point, which will be when the CD dies. There'll be room to return to DRM then.

I don't count this as a sign of public awakening --  financial interest (easy stealing!) and wisdom (DRM really is bad) were too aligned in this case to support optimistic lessons.

BTW, it's kind of obvious I hope, but this is not a problem for Apple. He put his DRM-free Amazon tunes on his iPod.

No comments: