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The folk at Axehole have responded to my post (responding to their post) about eMusic, DRM and the like.

Gareth Stack posts a well reasoned counter-argument to this post at his blog, Hummingbird Mentality. It’s an interesting read, though we’re not convinced.

One note – he takes issue with my characterization of eMusic’s service as a subscription, saying you get to keep the songs. I think he may have misunderstood my point – that you’re not buying songs with eMusic, you’re buying a subscription.

Check out the rest of their post for more detail.

It’s a fair point, I was indeed confused by eMusics subscription model, not having personally made use of their service; and I can see how it would affect number and timing of song downloads – in much the same way that ISP monthly bandwidth limitations curtail and influence P2P downloading behavior. [Incidentally, my own ISP Digiweb play a cleverly wicked trick, in counting bandwidth allowance against bandwidth used in the previous 30 days, rather than the preceding calendar month – never resetting the amount used to zero.]

While this may be inflating eMusic’s download figures, and would seem to result in less revenue per song for the artists and labels, presumably it’s compensated for by greater exposure to new artists pumping demand; especially for the kind of smaller artists eMusic specialize in offering – not out of choice – to whom obscurity is a greater threat than the failure to maximise profit on each individual sale. I see Axehole’s point however, download numbers are not directly comparable when songs are not charged for individually.

Actually I find it heartening that eMusic can charge as much as it does ($19.99 a month for 75 songs), when all you can eat services from competitors like Rhapsody, with larger and more mainstream catalogs, are available (in the US) from $9.99 a month. It leads me to suspect that consumer awareness and concern around DRM is growing. Or to put it another way, people would rather own their music, than rent it.

Ultimately I just don’t see DRM surviving. You can’t compete with free by removing features.

Edit: I’d also like to add that it’s fantastic to be able to have a mature reasoned debate in the ‘blogosphere’. Sometimes events can convince you such things are impossible.

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