DRM-Free Music: NYT Gives Steve Jobs Credit, Win SuperSite Does Not.


Paul Thurrott attempts to set the record strait on DRM-free music. And in Paul’s world, the move to DRM-free tunes had nothing to do with Apple or Steve Jobs. You see, Paul’s been re-writing Microsoft history for so long he’s not above trying to re-write Apple’s as well.

So, on his completely unbiased (*cough, cough*) Super Site for Windows, Paul comments on a New York Times article that gives some credit to Apple and Jobs for the recent moves by the big labels to DRM-free music distribution. Paul, of course, cannot allow this, so he accuses the NYT of “pro-Apple history re-writing” and provides his corrections.

Before I even go any further, doesn’t this already make your ears perk up? I mean, why would the NYT be “pro-Apple”? And even if they were, there are so many good stories to publish about them why would they need to “re-write” their history? Further, why in the Hell would I think the NYT has it wrong, but a shill running a Windows Super Site would somehow get it right? OK, as all that sinks in let’s go on…

After mentioning that Jobs is the one who called on the industry to stop its DRM practices back in February, Paul steps in and gives us this:

“No it wasn’t. Anyone who believes that Jobs somehow led the charge in DRM-free music is living in a fantasy world.”

Mmm, yes. For the CEO of the company running the largest (by far) online music store to call for this halt was pretty trivial. Mind you, most people were accusing Apple of not wanting to ever get rid of DRM because of the alleged (and false) “lock-in” it provided Apple. So for Jobs to take this stance showed at once that those accusations were ridiculous, and those making them (and some still do) pretty much automatically disqualify themselves from intelligently discussing this topic.

“The outcry against DRM had been going on for years.”

Of course. And all those peons were critically listened to by the labels, making this sea change out of the goodness of their hearts. Hmmm, but isn’t there a huge outcry about all the lawsuits being filed by the labels as well? I wonder why we don’t see the labels stop that. Or what about the various pricing in Europe? The labels don’t seem to care there, either (though Apple is now calling them on it).

Why would the labels listen to the DRM outcry, as Paul is suggesting, but not other customer complaints? Could it be because the CEO of the largest online music store joined in the battle? Yes, I do believe so, even if Paul isn’t bright enough to see it.

Oh, and where was Microsoft’s CEO (or any other prominent media CEO) in all this, Paul? I can answer that. They were all in bed together with DRM schemes to strangle as much fair use rights out of the consumer as possible. Gates or Ballmer would never have called for the removal of DRM because they’ve been trying to sucker users into theirs (which was written solely to placate the content providers) for years.

“Jobs only jumped in when it became obvious which direction things were moving. This is a great example of Apple marketing winning out over reality.”

I wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t read it, but Paul really is towing a new Redmond line that says the labels would have done this anyway. That’s a crock. Just as they haven’t stopped their other offensive practices against their own customers, they would never have even considered removing DRM had a major figure as important as Jobs called them on their BS.

Further, there’s plenty of proof that Jobs was against DRM long before his Thoughts on Music. The idea that he went where the wind was blowing is the real fantasy, Paul. I have no doubt you’re aware of this, but you increasing need to live in a fantasy world to avoid providing any credit to Apple, don’t you?

What I’m seeing here is nothing more than an Apple-bashing MS apologist and shill refusing to give any credit to Jobs/Apple even when it’s clearly due. In the process, he pretty much invalidates most of what he may have to say on this topic.

After refusing to give credit where it’s due, Paul (as is so often the case) simply plows forward. When the NYT article mentions that Apple insists on “selling all single tracks for 99 cents”, Paul is there to spew this garbage:

“Another bit of commonly-repeated fantasy. Contrary to Apple’s claims, tracks on iTunes are not consistently a single price (i.e. 99 cents). The company regularly offers sales and prices movies, especially, at a range of prices.”

Aside form when iTunes Plus was announced — tracks of which were initially $1.29 — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a music track on iTunes for other than $0.99. And now, all tracks, including iTunes Plus, are at that price. Further, I’m not sure a “sale” necessarily qualifies calling the NYT quote “fantasy” anyway. Isn’t the definition of sale somehow selling for less than usual?

Besides, in Paul’s ridiculous quote he mentions movies — “especially” — at a range of prices. Thanks Paul, but the NYT was talking about music tracks. I hope you didn’t hurt your back moving those goalposts.

Ironically, Paul then goes on to quote what may be the only real myth in his entire post:

“But seriously, folks. Apple makes no money from iTunes anyway.”

It seems Apple pulls in around 30 cents a tune. From that, they need to support the infrastructure of the online store. I don’t think that’s 30 cents a song. The rest is profit. For a store that’s sold over 3 billion songs I think there’s some money in it for them, and I wouldn’t exactly call it insignificant. Yes, hardware sales are much, much more important, but it’s hard to believe there’s little or no net to Apple’s bottom line from music sales.

Finally, Paul closes the post as silly as it began:

“In fact, Apple would probably love to back off from the content distribution angle anyway: It’s a lot of work for no direct return at all.”

No, Apple wants to back off from DRM because it’s a resource-sucking hog for no gain to Apple, consumers, or anyone except content providers and companies like Microsoft who want to build their next monopoly upon it. If DRM were out of the way, there’d be nothing but basic ongoing maintenance and Apple could make even more money from the store.

Seriously, Paul, do you think Amazon is in this business to not make money? How is it they can make money from this (you do believe Amazon is making money, right?) and Apple cannot?

I hope your head doesn’t explode when you realize you can’t answer that question without a whole lot of history re-writing and/or fact juggling. Still, I’m sure you’ll try. And when you do, I’ll be here writing about it. See you then.

6 thoughts on “DRM-Free Music: NYT Gives Steve Jobs Credit, Win SuperSite Does Not.

  1. Tom, can you expound on this part of the article –
    “It seems Apple pulls in around 30 cents a tune.”

    Where did you get the 30 cents a tune figure from?
    It seems a very high figure / percentage to me.

  2. What if Thurrott blogged and nobody read it?

    Let’s try it. Spread the word.

  3. Let’s see. Paul says Jobs had nothing to do with getting rid of DRM, that they don’t make any money selling songs on the iTMS, and it was all moving towards none-DRM anyway. And this is what we get from a non-biased Windows Supersite, on the eve of Macworld.

    Funny how we never hear about another in the long line of EU probes against Microsoft’s monopolistic practices in regards to Windows Explorer and Microsoft Office, just announced today. I would think Windows fans would like to know what Paul thinks about that.

  4. Just proves the adage that idiots are the anti-wine. They don’t improve with age.

  5. Paul Thurrott is suffering from “all-knowing” complex.

    Thurrott said that his “MacBook Core Solo” is so slow.
    “MacBook Core Solo”?
    Who has that?
    Apparently only Thurrott and Leo Laporte.

    It’s a perfect time for Gizmodo to use their “Thurrott B-Gone” now.

  6. I never read Paul Thurrot any more…. he makes my head and stomach hurt. I love, on the other hand, when you expose him for what he is – a Microsoft shill! He does a good job of making stupid remarks. Since I have a weak stomach I’m sure glad that you can read him and set the record right for us.

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