I just downloaded the new album from NIN album "Slip". This is a privilege afforded to me as a registered member of NIN.com. Great, I say, I registered to have the opportunity to buy tickets to future nails tickets.
The downloads are offered as MP3, CD Quality, loss less Waves...great options for everyone from the casual listener who can operate iTunes to the audiophile with a home studio. Then, right there at the bottom was the tag:
"All files are 100% DRM free"
We have certainly come a long way in a short time...haven't we? I remember attending a conference 5 years ago where this was all they were talking about. A close friend and colleague actually co-wrote the book on this topic which is still quite relevant.
DRM, for the uninitiated reader, stands for Digital Rights Management. Originally this technology was supposed to protect and serve the interests of artists who wanted to control the rights and distribution of their original content.
Now that iTunes, Microsoft and any number of other music sharing programs have sufficiently irritated the public with their own application of the technology the artists leading the charge to turn the recording industry on its head seem to be faced with an interesting decision...swear off the technology and just...share?
As a rabid consumer of music I say great. But I am also not known for thinking it through carefully when I am faced with the option to immediately gratify myself in some way...like with free music. While this will be great PR for a wildly successful and established artist like Trent Reznor...what does it mean for the little guys? Will the recording and distribution industries catch up?
In any case, I applaud Radiohead and NIN for breaking new ground. Unlike the ridiculous battle between Pearl Jam and ticket master years ago...these artists are willing to take significant financial hits in order to restore the balance of rights to the artists. How this will all look in 5 years is anybodies guess...but that is the excitement of living in the 21st century!!