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12/10/2004 Archived Entry: "On-line music without DRM"

[REPOST] It seems that hardly a week goes by without the RIAA suing someone or other for file sharing. And the battle seems to be on between Apple's iTunes and Microsoft, for whose form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) will control the music world. So I'm thankful to The Inquirer for reporting on non-RIAA, non-DRM alternatives for music lovers.

Magnatune and Mindawn both appear to offer a fair deal to artists and consumers alike. The music isn't free -- like iTunes, you pay for the songs you download -- but unlike iTunes, there's no DRM on the files, so you can burn them to a CD, or copy them to your laptop, or even email them to a friend. (In the long run, it pays off for the artist.)

Although I really don't follow modern music, from my position on the sidelines, I rather think the music industry is bifurcating. The "major labels" are focusing more and more on megastars, and are less and less inclined to nurture new artists with an uncertain return. On the other side, the low startup and distribution costs of Internet music are favorable to new talent and independent artists. And for my money, that's where the action is. I've been bored stiff by the big name artists; for the last several years the new music that has captured my fancy has come from local music festivals.

Even more than during the '60s, we are on the verge of an explosion of new, vibrant, and exciting music. When I get broadband Internet access, I expect to start using these alternative music services. Sure, I'll have to wade through a lot of dreck in order to find a few gems....but hey, a lot of dreck got pressed in the '60s and '70s as well.       -- brad

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