An E-mail Message to Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group recently announced DRM-free downloads through…who? Transworld, Passalong Networks, and Puretracks…who are these guys? There are some big brands, too, but who knew Google and Best Buy even sold music online? Rhapsody is about the only notable online music outlet in this line-up, but I don’t understand that choice, as most of their customers use Rhapsody as a music subscription service. Who’s missing here? Oh, right…the leading online music retailers, iTunes and eMusic.

So in Universal’s infinite wisdom, it’s believed that the best way to test the market’s interest in DRM-free downloads is to try them out in the least-popular online outlets? This looks a lot like a lame effort put forth by the leading music company to appease the market interests, while not wanting to piss off its industry cronies. If [against all odds, based on relative traffic to these outlets alone] this trial is successful, Universal really has no choice but to move toward a DRM-free music model, leaving the remaining holdouts with little argument. On the other hand, if it’s a failure [as it’s more likely to be, considering the figures from the chosen outlets], Universal can claim that they gave it a try, but the “market” demand wasn’t sufficient.

Clever. Disappointing, but clever. Twisted, sad, and deviant, but clever.

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