The Future of DRM

People have been saying that DRM is going to die for a long time. Steve Jobs went out on a limb last February and urged record companies to cease using the crippling technology. It's been quite some time since then and the music industry is still relatively reluctant to comply with every end user's request to ditch DRM. Apple's DRM-free success has been minimal, only adding on EMI as a provider for DRM-free tracks, albeit with them costing more than DRM'd tracks. Amazon has recently been ahead of the game with their MP3 store, offering high-quality songs DRM-free music cheaply. However, after using Amazon MP3 for a while it is quickly apparent that not all record companies are on-board with Amazon's plan.

In Rainbows by Radiohead
With Radiohead's latest album, In Rainbows, you pay what you want.

So what are recording artists, fed up with the slivers of profit they receive from their greedy record labels, and consumers to do? Backlash. That's what has been happening, to a degree, over the past week. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Madonna - three recording artists that can't be overlooked - have all left their record labels. It's this kind of action that needs to serve as a wakeup call for the music industry.

On a sidenote, Radiohead's latest album titled In Rainbows has an interesting price; whatever you want it to be. When you check out online, you literally enter in the price you wish to pay in pounds and pence. I really want for this to work. How amazing would it be if Radiohead reported good earnings? It would change things, that's for sure.

Adding to the anti-DRM case, Yahoo!'s Ian Rogers made a great presentation that clearly exemplified why there needs to be a turning point away from DRM. At the highlight of his presentation he states he will no longer work for DRM music on Yahoo! Music.

I’m here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, I’m not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, I’ll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign.

Finally, we are getting some traction. Let's place bets - how long until DRM really is a thing of the past? 1 year? 3, 5, 10?