My thoughts on ‘thoughts on music’…


Steve Jobs’ unexpected ‘Thoughts On Music’ posting took not only the tech world, but the music world by surprise. If any one thing demonstrates the power that Apple have today it’s statements such as this. When Steve speaks, the world listens, when Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Rob Glaser, or other tech luminaries speak, the world barely glances in their direction.The statement that Steve made, boils down to this:For some reason, the wider media have assumed that the reason why the iPod and iTS combo have DRM built in to every item purchased from it, is because Apple desired it, and they desired it because it locks iTS software content, to iPod hardware. This results in the concept that the more content you buy from the iPod, the less likely you are to buy competing hardware.This apparently isn’t the case.iTS content is locked to the iPod, and does have the side effect of locking people in to the hardware, but what most, if not all, tech columnists fail to mention, is that this DRM is easily circumvented (and FULLY supported by Apple – no hacks required), by simply re-ripping the DRM’d tracks to CD and re-importing them in to your competing players’ software.This sounds a little long-winded, but is a walk in the park compared to stripping the DRM from Microsoft’s DRM, which is all but impossible for the average user, and certainly isn’t documented in any way by Microsoft. Somebody should really let the Norwegians in on this little secret, but I feel that they are perfectly aware of this already and are simply acting on behalf of a certain group of privately owned businesses – I wonder who they could be?No, the reason why DRM exists on the iTS, is because the music companies demanded it, and not only demanded it’s inclusion, but also demanded that Apple actively fix it, should it be broken.I myself (unlike the BBC), believe him (by and large).There are a few questions however. If Steve is so against DRM, and the only reason he agreed to it was to get contracts for the iTS, then why does he not allow DRM-free music on the iTS from indie labels, who are quite happy to give contracts out (such as for eMusic), right now, with no DRM in sight?Who knows. It could be that the contracts that were signed by the big four, specifically exclude DRM-free music such as this, but even I admit that I’m reaching here.Or, more likely, Steve was quite happy to go with DRM-free music, but when it was forced on to him by the big four, he saw the potential to sell more iPods and could not turn it down. Don’t forget Apple is a public company and has a duty to it’s shareholders – you cannot turn down the chance of increased profits no matter what your principles.So, I think that the reason why Steve did this was to clear up the blame for DRM, and to point out to certain European Marxists that it ‘aint Apple’s fault – they need to talk to the big four.And also, as a little, tiny, eeny-weeny side effect (if this results in DRM being abandoned), it also completely destroys, from top to bottom and inside-out, Microsoft’s entire business plan.Sorry Bill, what can we say, except ‘whoops’?


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