Headlines last week trumpeted Sony BMI’s decision to stop fouling up it downloadable music tracks with DRM, or digital rights management technology. (Just in case you’ve been under a rock for the last five years, DRM is an expensive, broken, wrong-headed system that keeps honest people from making copies of legally-purchased music for their own personal use … but which does little or nothing to deter piracy because pirates have easy access to software that strips DRM out of music and video files).
The real news, though, isn’t that Sony is making music tracks available without DRM … but that, in order to get these copy-protection-free tracks, Sony expects people to go to a music store and buy a specific plastic card for every album they download.
Word to Sony: people interested in downloading music online aren’t shopping in music stores … they’re shopping online. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I darkened the door of a music store or wandered the CD racks at Wal-Mart. A huge part of the magic of buying digital music online is getting it right away, right then, while my ears are achin’ for that particular tune. I want it … I find it … I click it … I hear it. That’s what digital music buyers expect.
Sony’s model would have me put that tune on a list, then wait to buy it until I can make my way to a bricks and mortar store to buy a plastic card to carry back home and uncover a code that I must type into my computer before I can download the track and start hearing the music.
In other words: Sony’s Platinum Musicpass sucks. It’s completely, totally wrong-headed, and, as an offering, it betrays a complete inability to understand the needs and buying habits of customers in the digital age.[See Sony BMG trades cards for downloaded tunes – USATODAY.com]