It’s what everybody’s after; free, legal music downloads. Oftentimes it’s not only the point that people want free downloads, it’s that they want their music to be unencumbered by DRM restrictions. Once they’ve downloaded their music, people want the opportunity to transport it to as much of their playback devices as they wish. The typical downloader today has a laptop, at least one desktop machine, a portable Music player, and possible an MP3 / WMA enabled head unit in their vehicle(s). Most consumers would want to be able to burn their music onto a CD for archival or playback on other devices that don’t support the download formats, just like a traditional CD player.
Certain requirements of DRM that limited them yt to mp3 from to be able to freely use their music in any or all of these devices was a prime consideration in their need to obtain free, legal music downloads. It’s typically not all about the money. There’s more in play with regards to downloads. After all, consumers show time and again they’re more than willing to pay a fair price for a product or service if it meets their needs and expectations.
A 2005 survey of European Internet consumers by the Indicare Project revealed that 40% paid attention to music on MP3 players and 69% listened to music on their computers, but many were confused by DRM restrictions. Most surveyed likely to manage to transfer and burn their music downloads, and were “confused and annoyed” when unable to. With the rising popularity of not merely music downloads, however the increasing popularity of video and movie downloads, this issue will probably grow worse.
The recent announcement that Amazon.com and EMI that they will be releasing legal music downloads without DRM restrictions seems to bear out the truth that such restrictions are actually of dubious benefit to the recording and movie industries, despite vicious prosecution of several downloaders by industry associations including the RIAA. In fact EMI is the 4th largest record label group in the world, and you can be certain they have studied the DRM / downloading issue ad nausem.
The reality of the situation is that consumers wish to be able to do with their downloads as they please, especially if they’ve covered them, and the restrictions posed by DRM are actually hurting the industry. Unless it might be shown a substantial percentage of these who availed themselves of free music downloads would have actually purchased similar content had they not downloaded the music some other way, the music industry are affected by continuing to impose such restrictions. Actually the amount of individuals who avoid DRM encumbered, legal downloads altogether due to portability issues will continue steadily to contribute to the decline in music sales, when music downloads should be creating a much bigger revenue stream for the recording industry and the artists.