customized MP3s: alternatives to DRM

In the midst of all of my movement, i forgot to highlight the fact that Jessica Simpson released her latest single “A Public Affair” as an MP3 for $1.99 via Yahoo! Music. This may not mean much to you but it’s actually quite significant… Here is a pop star releasing a single without DRM. And she’s still making money off of it. How? It’s a personalized MP3 so that you can get one that’s meant for you. In this way, Yahoo! and Jessica Simpson are trying to show that DRM is not the only way to make a profit when it comes to music. What is required is some innovative thinking about how to serve consumers as well as artists. Anyhow, if this is of particular interest to you, you defeinitely should check out Ian Roger’s blog post about it. He describes the details far better than i do (and there’s an intense conversation in the comments).

For those who aren’t aware, my move to Venice also means a move within Yahoo! I am no longer at Yahoo! Research Berkeley but have instead moved to Yahoo! Media Group. I am still a Social Media Researcher but i’m focusing more on the relationship between new media and old skool media of all sorts. Personally, this is a very welcome change. I have to admit that i got a little burnt out by the tech industry proper. I have a hard time engaging in yet-another of anything and that was swirling all around the Valley. I’m not particularly interested in the technology of knock-offs although i will continue to follow user patterns. To shake myself up a bit, i decided i needed to dive into something new. In reflecting on this, i realized that i kept getting sidetracked by Henry Jenkin’s arguments concerning Convergence Culture. Although this relates to my dissertation, i don’t know shit about Hollywood or the culture around movies, music, gaming, TV… I certainly don’t understand why user-generated content is such a big deal. But i’m learning. And Yahoo! Media is the perfect place to think through the relationship between old and new media. I’m quite excited to see what i can learn and how i can help YMG. Maybe if i’m really well behaved, i’ll even get to meet Lloyd Braun… cuz one has to give respect to the man who got fired for standing behind Lost.

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6 thoughts on “customized MP3s: alternatives to DRM

  1. Mark Federman

    I certainly don’t understand why user-generated content is such a big deal.

    Ummm… perhaps because it reverses the systemic roots of hegemony – based in a few having control over media and hence creation, dissemination and authority of knowledge – that have existed for a millennium and a half (give or take a couple of centuries)? (Refer to McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy, and associated writings for more.)

  2. heather

    It’s funny, but I wanted to jump on that “user-generated” comment as well…. but for another reason…

    Libraries are increasingly allowing users/patrons to generate content. This seems like a big “duh” to me, but I think lots of people who have been in the information world think of users as not particularly worthy of generating content, or maybe that the content they generate won’t fit in with a “look and feel” that the particular library/company wants to present to the public.

    User generated content is an absolute must, in my view, for libraries because part of a library’s role is to encourage “the free exchange of ideas”…. including what patrons/users think/know/feel….

    Let the information flow.

    Oh, and about the real topic of this post:
    Brilliant. I am always looking out for news on how publishers/producers/etc. are going to make a buck within this tsunami of free content!

    Also, I recently found this blog and I am very happy that I did :).

  3. Joao Neves

    This wins the prize for most thought provoking sentence I’ve read on your blog: “I certainly don’t understand why user-generated content is such a big deal.”

    After sometime, I think I can understand what’s going on: it’s not that you don’t understand it, it’s just that you assume that user-generated content is the norm. You don’t understand why it’s a big deal because it’s normal for you, not because you don’t believe it’s important (as some of us might think if we weren’t reading you before, as that’s the normal context of such a phrase).

    Your blog is about social software. Software enabling users to talk, to become active, present, share and co-develop in the process. Compared to that state-controlled (as in frequencies) broadcast media, like radio or television where the you can’t participate, just consume and assume a passive role seems anachronic.

    There is a qualitative difference there, and most people aren’t realizing how big the changes caused will be. Yesterday I was reading an inteview by Al Gore (yup, that one) where he connected 1) the the press to the creation of a discussion that resulted in Iluminism, 2) radio and television to the appearance of dictatorships in the 20th century (because they enabled one-sided propaganda without any counter-point or response possible) and 3) the Internet as the new discussion place (“that could save democracy”).

    As you, I’ve got to the point of assuming the Internet exists and that it is like it is. Keeping a conversation with my parents helps a lot in this (my father doesn’t even have an email address). There’s a huge difference these days between Internet users and non-Internet users. Let’s just try to keep in touch with that other strange world anyway.

  4. tom

    I can’t quite work out what the customisation actually involves here and I’m not sure whether I want ot spend $1.99 to find out. Does anyone know?

  5. jason

    I’m very interested in your new focus with Yahoo, “on the relationship between new media and old skool media of all sorts”.


    I am studying tape cassettes at the moment myself. Looking forward to reading your future posts on any retro media related topic. peace.

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