The writing’s on the wall for music DRM – now even the folk who sell music (the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association) are calling on the industry to drop the protection.
Director-general Kim Bayley said labels have been “quick to complain” that the holy grail of digital offsetting physical sales has not yet been met. But clumsy protection “might have added to the slow take-up of legal digital services“, she told FT.com, observing “just 150 million tracks” have been sold digitally in the UK in the last three years. “Sadly, that amounts to an average of less than one £0.79 ($1.61) per download per head of population per year. At the moment, [DRM] just puts consumers off.”
The numbers might be skewed (not every member of the population was an analog music customer). But Bayley isn’t dawdling – the ERA, which represents nearly 200 retailers like HMV (LSE: HMV) and WH Smith, wants the industry to drop DRM before Christmas, so customers can add free and open tracks to the iPods they get under the tree this year.