Part Two: How iTunes Implements the FairPlay DRM System
Apple has addressed the changes in customer demand as it related to the music industry with the iTunes Store. Before, we may not have conceived of purchasing music without a hard copy—the record, 8-track, cassette, CD and album art in our hands! Now, it has become a mainstay for many to have a purely digital file of an album or song.
To further respond to customer wants, Apple has created the FairPlay DRM System. This ensures that the artists not only get paid, but also that you were able to download and share/transfer the song more than once—a far better service than the music stores that only allowed you access to songs if you maintained your subscription. You would lose your library if your membership was ever terminated!
Should we pay for music? There is a common belief that the labels are the only ones being paid and making the big bucks. There are many factions from the time an artist is signed to what ends up as a finished product regardless of the format ready for distribution. The other popular belief is that all recording artists are very rich. If only that were true.
A lot is invested by the label and the artist to ensure success. Nothing is guaranteed. When a label signs an artist, they invest in development, equipment, tour support, marketing and sometimes even living expenses. Some of these costs have to be reimbursed to the label and some is just an investment in potentially the next best thing. I won’t deny it. Music labels did make a lot of money. But then again, so do sport franchises.
I sincerely believe that iTunes Plus is a step in the right direction. The agreement that iTunes has reached with the music labels guarantees one thing—the artist will be paid. I’ll be able to buy a song and transfer it without problems as many times as I want. If you haven’t run into that problem yet, then you’re lucky. Recently, I uploaded a CD that I own and then went to transfer it to another hard drive and couldn’t. When I went to play it, I got an error message saying that I did not have the rights to transfer these songs and to obtain the original CD. (I owned the CD!) DRM! .
Music is never free. Radio may appear to be free, but it isn’t. Radio stations live on advertising. Local and National companies invest a lot of money in promoting their products and this allows radio stations to broadcast. Music labels buy a lot of ad time on radio. Promotions such as, win tickets, signed posters, t-shirts, etc… that’s all part of marketing costs from the music labels.
Even the guy busking on the corner is being paid. Everyone wants to encourage the guy by giving him some loose change or a couple of bucks if he’s good. The guy’s gotta eat! To me is what this is all about. I want to hear good music. I want to hear songs that are so well written that I delude myself in believing I wrote them when I’m playing Guitar Hero (by the way, royalties are paid there as well).
So, iTunes Plus is making sure that the songwriters/performers are paid. And yes, the music label as well. Over the last few years, the internet has taught a lot of businesses not to take for granted its impact. So, music labels have changed as have the rest of us. No one has to pay between $15.99 to $25.99 for a CD that has maybe 2 or 3 good songs. Instead, I can pick the songs I want from the known hits to an obscure track from that same artist and know exactly what I’m getting before I buy it.
In these harsh economic times, earning an income is very important to everyone. Every time you go to work, you expect to be paid. I loved working for a music label. I worked a lot of hours and I was paid. No matter how much I loved music, I wanted, needed and expected to be paid for the work I did.
I believe iTunes Plus is a step in the right direction for everyone. Not only will I be able to transfer the songs without problems, I’m ensured the same sound quality as if I bought the physical CD. Most important, I own that song hassle-free. It won’t expire because I cancelled my subscription. Lastly, my favorite artists are making a living so they can continue making great music.