Macworld editor Dan Moren writes that as the largest purveyor of music in the U.S., Apple holds tremendous sway over the music-buying population—and that understandably worries the record companies. So, naturally, they’re going to fight it somehow, and they’re doing it by holding back DRM-free tracks from Apple.
Instead, they’re offering them to other stores, like Napster and the Amazon MP3 store, in an effort to boost those stores’ revenue and make them stronger against Apple.
“By embracing DRM-free music, the record labels have finally admitted the truth to themselves: not just that the cat’s out of the bag, but that he’s high-tailed it halfway across the country,” he writes. “The levels of piracy were already immense before the recent DRM-free push, so the music companies clutching onto rights management was like polishing the brass on the Titanic.”
Moren correctly points out a huge flaw in the labels’ plan, which is that since iTunes already has more than three-fourths of the market for online music, and Apple’s share hasn’t flagged at all, it’s only going to encourage more of the same lock-in that the record companies fear in the first place.
“The labels’ insistence on using DRM was the beginning of the end for their business model. If they’d adapted to the direction the market was going seven or eight years ago, they might have had a chance at holding onto the reins. But now there’s only really one question left: will Apple manage to destroy the record labels before the record labels manage to destroy themselves?”