Just a few days ago BusinessWeek ran a story that Sony was looking to sell DRM-free music, thereby joining the other “big” labels (Universal, Warner, and EMI) in offering at least a part of their catalog DRM-free. There was no mention of iTunes; speculation was that, like Universal and Warner, iTunes would be avoided and Amazon would be the online store of choice.
I wrote about Sony’s potential choice and wondered what the labels were up to. Silly me. I made the assumption that Sony would be selling through an online music store. I mean, where else would they sell digital music? Obviously it would be online, right?
But I forgot one key fact: This is Sony.
For all the dumb things Universal has done in their desire to get back to the glory days of huge music profits, I think Sony has been even dumber. Remember, these are the guys that invented the “ringle” — a ringtone/single on a physical CD — for sale in brick and mortar stores at $6 or more; the whole thing was laughable.
Well, history repeats itself. Sony is not (at least initially) using an online store for their DRM-free tunes. Rather, they will sell cards at retail locations that you use to download the album from a web site. It’s bad enough I have to go to a retail location to buy it, but I still have to use my computer to actually get the thing anyway. It’s the worst of both worlds! I guess this is what to expect from the makers of the ringle, CD rootkit and ATRAC.
And as bad as this looks, it’s even worse. As the Macworld article points out:
The move is far from the all-digital service offered by its rivals, though. To obtain the Sony-BMG tracks, would-be listeners will first have to go to a retail store to buy a Platinum MusicPass, a card containing a secret code, for a suggested retail price of $12.99. Once they have scratched off the card’s covering to expose the code, they will be able to download one of just 37 albums available through the service, including Britney Spears’ “Blackout” and Barry Manilow’s “The Greatest Songs of the Seventies.”
Twelve. Ninety. Nine. Is Sony insane? Have they not noticed that the going price for a full digital album is $9.99 (and even that’s too high)? They want me to pay $3 more and go to Target for the privilege! Seriously, Sony, how dumb can you be?
Oh, and only 37 albums? With ringles they planned up to 50 titles, but now can’t do more than 37 lousy albums? These guys are dumber than Universal and, believe me, that’s really saying something.
Of all the ridiculous ideas that have come out of the labels the last couple of years, this is the ridiculoust! (Yes, I just invented “ridiculoust”. I think it applies.)