Music lovers let out a collective cheer when the last of the big record companies, Sony BMG, revealed last week that it will no longer enforce digital rights management (DRM), or copy protection, with its music. (EMI, Universal, and most recently, Warner Music, all jumped on the DRM-free bandwagon in 2007.)
Alas, today Sony BMG let the other shoe drop when they unveiled a rather cockamamie sales model that, as Duncan Riley on TechCrunch also points out, seems calculated to make their DRM-free efforts fail. Seemingly oblivious to how music is consumed online (on multiple levels), the record company expects users to go to brick-and-mortar stores to buy $12.99 gift cards. Taking a cue from soda-cap contests, users then enter redemption codes to download full albums.
First, online music should be available to purchase online; it sounds obvious, but apparently isn’t so. Second, gift cards are fine when you’re buying them for other people, but it’s goofy to buy one for yourself, not to mention a big waste of plastic. Third, buying full albums is a thing of the past, so why continue to impose this model on customers?
So that’s three strikes for this business model: Sony BMG should have quit while they were ahead. For now, let’s just hope this idea doesn’t catch on with any of the other labels.