Sunday, September 04, 2005

Dear online music industry: get your act together

I've decided to refuse to put up with the music industry's B.S. If they want my money, they'll have to get their act together.

  1. I won't buy an entire album just for the sake of one song. Ever. Well, maybe at a garage sale.
  2. I will not pay unreasonable prices. I will only pay top dollar for songs I really like; for other songs, I won't pay much more than one dollar. I would suggest a quality-based system. For one dollar you'd get the medium quality: 112 or 128 kbps VBR MP3 (96 or 112 kbps OGG); for two dollars, you'd get any quality you like in any format you'd like (160 to 320 kbps MPG/OGG, or master-quality FLAC format). Furthermore, the music vendor should allow you do download more than one copy of the song in different formats. That way, for instance, you could download a lower quality version for your flash player (in order to maximize the number of songs on the device) than for your surround sound system.
  3. I will not buy music with DRM. I want to transfer music between different computers (home and work and laptop), play it with the program of my choice (not just some special program that can handle the DRM), play it from the cheap portable player in my pocket (not some special model designed for the DRM), play it in the car MP3 CD player, or even stream it off the internet from a private server. I do not want to degrade quality via transcoding, nor go to the trouble of looking for cracking tools. I also want to be able to apply arbitrary filters such as karaoke voice-removers and pitch shifters, which are sometimes incompatible with DRM systems. I do not want to deal with the possibility that the encryption keys will be lost if I reformat my hard drive. In short: if I am paying them for music, I deserve to play it whereever I want, however I want. If this is too much to ask, then my money is too much to ask. The solution is dead simple: offer music in MP3 and/or OGG format.
  4. I will not buy music that I have never heard. I know, I know, lots of people buy music they've never heard, but I simply refuse. Websites that sell music must offer preview versions (streaming by default, but one should also be able to do a permanent download, for offline listening). There are various ways they could do this, such as to offer
  • The first half of the song at high quality.
  • The entire song at low quality.
  • The first half of the song at high quality, the rest at low quality.
  • Medium-quality songs with some whiney DJ messing up the beginning and end.
  • The whole song at high quality, with an ad for Viagra stuck right in the middle.
See also:
"American copyright law is biased against citizens" - Diesel Sweeties

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