Thursday, January 8, 2009

Publishers, Take Some Notes!

Apple iTunes will now offer DRM-free music from Sony, Universal and Warner starting this week. According to the NY Times, music label EMI was already offering their music through iTunes without DRM. I had no idea. Shows how much I know!

Over the holidays, I had a conversation about this very issue, which concluded with the assumption that iTunes would eventually drop DRM, but not anytime soon. Good thing we were wrong. We have all heard the arguments for and against DRM over and over. Without it, there would be rampant sharing and less buying. With it, people will find a way to hack it or buy music without it.

How many of us have borrowed physical CDs and physical books from people? Each instance represents a potential sale lost through sharing. Even in the pre-digital age, we were sharing and loaning and not buying. Sure, it is easier to share a digital file, but it is also easier to buy one.

Again over the holidays, there was an article in the NY Times reminiscing about the good old days of the music industry, before digitization. Sound familiar, publishing people? It reminded me of all the "death to publishing" articles and laments about this new digital era of publishing. I think the reality of the situation is that no matter what era we are working in, something will challenge us. Those challenges change constantly, and that is what keeps things exciting. We could all certainly find jobs out there with fewer challenges and more stability, but didn't we get into publishing to avoid such jobs?

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