Sony BMG Sort of Drops DRM

In a ridiculously customer-phobic move typical of the company, Sony BMG has announced they’ll start selling DRM-free MP3s of their artists’ music—but only if you go to a retail store and buy a special gift card.

From Reuters:

Sony BMG, home to artists including Beyonce, Britney Spears and Celine Dion, said on Monday it will launch a gift card service on January 15 called Platinum MusicPass that will feature digital albums from its artists in the MP3 format. The format does not use DRM protection.

Fans will be able to buy the digital album cards in stores and download full-length albums from a MusicPass Web site after they type in an identifying number. The cards will be available at U.S. retail outlets such as Best Buy and Target.

I’m not all that upset about it. Sony will certainly come around when they realize how infantile they are being and I doubt they’ll try to pull the “Look at the poor sales! Our customers didn’t want DRM-free music!” trick, not with all the other labels selling their MP3s on digital download services. It’s just hilarious to watch Sony flub moves like this, so close to getting it but too proud to do the right thing. They’re the Norma Desmond of the consumer electronics industry.

Sony BMG to drop copy protection for downloads [Reuters via Gadget Lab]

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8 Responses to Sony BMG Sort of Drops DRM

  1. Anonymous says:

    My understanding is that one cannot buy individual songs via this new Sony debacle. You must buy a whole “album.” So, yeah, unless you just bought a new Apple mini MacBook without an optical drive and really, really gotta have that new Britney or Beyonce, I don’t see why you would choose this over the CD, or more likely, P2P.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are less embarrassing reasons why Sony might try this approach.

    By requiring people to buy these cards at launch they avoid the inevitable traffic spikes from a high-profile online service launch. They can open it up to online users later on if they so choose.

    They also avoid the bad reviews from all the tech writers testing the system on launch day and getting slow speeds – in fact, most tech journalists won’t even look at this launch.

    If Sony decide that they want to close it down, they can simply stop stocking the cards, and the customer flow will drop off smoothly over several months, allowing for a fairly worry free shutdown.

    Plus, it also allows them the opportunity of more in depth demographic research.

    I certainly don’t agree with Sony’s approach but I can see reasons – besides stupidity – why they might do it this way.

  3. MaximusNYC says:

    Freddie: Yes, the fact that Blu-Ray is winning over HD-DVD probably means they feel validated, and will spend another 20 years of trying to force people to adopt their proprietary Sony formats. If the company lasts that long, that is…

  4. benefice says:

    Freddie,

    Just because MiniDisc didn’t catch on in the US doesn’t mean it was a failure. It was really quite popular in Europe and Asia.

    Not to say I’m a Sony fan, but they do come up with good ideas from time to time. Just usually not from the entertainment side.

  5. jesseg says:

    i participated in a market research thing for this a few months ago. i told them that if i had to go to the store to buy music, i’d just buy a CD. i did get $70, pizza, a coke, and some really terrible CDs, though.

  6. philipb says:

    …and the people (who are already happily paying for DRM-free music from their favorite .ru sites) danced on.

  7. Freddie Freelance says:

    Does Sony think the few times their proprietary systems beat out the competition (i.e., Blu-Ray may be beating out HD-DVD) makes up for all the missteps & flubs (i.e., Betamax, MiniDisks, Connect.com, the XCP Rootkit CD protection system, etc)? Or is this a ploy to try to save Connect.com?

  8. dculberson says:

    Yeah, what Jesseg said. I’m actually confused as to why anyone would bother going to the store and buying the gift card. Unless they just wanted one track from various albums, I guess..

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