Ever since the early days of the popular file sharing app Napster, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has shut down the majority of file sharing companies, suing everybody involved with file sharing, including the users.
The idea behind Napster was not evil, it was a sign that record companies were behind the times and that technology was evolving, while record companies remained clueless and fearful of change.
What the record companies and the RIAA did not understand was that die hard music fans were using Napster to discover new music, filter out bad quality music, and rediscover music from their childhood’s, etc.
Napster users loved music; the idea was not to steal music, but to have the music they loved easily accessible on their computer, iPod, etc. With the iTunes, by the click of a button you can purchase, download, and transfer music to an iPod. Through the iTunes Music Store, the convenience of purchasing digital music is too tempting to pass up.
Apple understood the evolution of content delivery technology and the iTunes Music Store sold billions of songs, the perfect example that users will happily buy digital music. The record companies finally got a wake up call, but the only problem was they wanted more control over the purchased digital music by using DRM (Digital Rights Management).
When music CD’s were popular they had no limitations except for the fact that CD’s are a physical medium and you had to rip the songs from the CD using software to get them onto your computer. You purchased the CD and you were not limited by DRM to tell you which device you could or could not play music on.
Record companies missed the mark once again. With the release of the iTunes Music Store, you had the opportunity to download purchased music tracks, but you had to deal with Apple’s own DRM called Fairplay, which only allowed you to play the music you purchased on Apple’s iPod, iPhone, and a few other digital music players.
Digitally purchased content become popular with movies, apps, and ebooks. Everyone followed suit and adopted DRM for all purchased digital content with pirating continuing to flourish.
Renting movies from the iTunes Store is great because you can download the movie to watch on your computer, iPhone, iPad, etc. It is convenient, but of course very limited by the DRM scheme HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). In order to play the movie, the display has to support HDCP.
In my case, my 13″ Macbook Pro is connected to my 20″ 2005 Dell monitor and the computer is docked in closed lid mode, so my Dell monitor is my main screen. I cannot play movie rentals because my monitor does not support HDCP.
We the people want easily accessible content. We do not want to jump through hoops to get content onto our computers, iPod, or any other electronic device. Apple did the right thing by listening to their customers by dropping DRM from the music they released in the iTunes Music Store.
We the people want instant access to content. Most content you pay to download like TV shows and movies are not available as soon as they are released. TV shows take a day after they are released before you can download them and in the case of HBO shows like Game of Thrones, you have to wait until they release them on DVD before they make them available for download. Why make customers wait?
We the people want quality content. The quality of music over this past decade has been mediocre at best and that not quite realistic, the majority of new releases being put out there are of terrible quality not worth spending a cent on.
Record companies need to increase the quality of music they allow artists to get away with and artists definitely need to go back to the basics by focus on creating quality music with a passion. If you create quality content, people will buy it.
We the people want reasonably priced content. $9.99 for a music album is a reasonable price for a quality music album. Paying approximately $20 more a month to watch HBO shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood is a little outrageous to watch the shows as they aired. Cable companies love it.
Limiting customers that purchase digital content will only encourage piracy. Make it easy, hassle-free, and make digital content available sooner at a reasonable price. You will never stop piracy, only make purchasing content more desirable to the customer.