Yahoo Working on DRM-Free Music Store

YahooHot on the heels of the Last.Fm announcement that you can stream any song up to three times for free, Yahoo rumors are brewing again. According to two record company executives wishing to remain anonymous, Yahoo is in talks with major record labels about offering DRM-free (unprotected) MP3s either for sale or for free supported by ads. Either way, Yahoo wants to launch the new service this year sometime.

This news could be even more interesting when juxtaposed with what Yahoo Music’s VP of Product Development Ian Rogers hinted at a couple weeks ago. Namely, big news revolving around dramatic changes in Yahoo’s music model. He said, “We’re in the process of redefining what Yahoo! Music is, and making it the Music destination in Yahoo!’s successful image.”

Here is another quote from Rogers (incidentally mentioning

“Today users are creating tremendous value and for the most part we’re ignoring it. They’re writing blogs about your artists, putting bios on Wikipedia, documenting last night’s concert on Flickr and video sharing sites, showing what songs are most popular by their behavior on, building “box sets” on community sites, etc. How has the music industry leveraged this? What tools have you created to enable or encourage it?”

I’ve already discussed how I now use Amazon MP3 over iTunes (DRM-free, cheaper, no switching costs, etc.), but Yahoo could become the online music retailer of choice if it were to create a more holistic platform which would include music buying, playing, managing, and sharing.

  • Paul Ellis

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this. But it is a link to the Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine talking about DRM-free music. He is of the opinion that the music business is on a “road to ruin”.

  • From that article:

    “Now consumers are getting their wish, and the music industry will continue to crumble.

    Giving up control of content and giving it away free are not rational ideas in a market economy, yet everyone’s cheering. Has the world gone mad?”

    Um, it’s not free. Since when does no DRM equal free? The irony is that since Amazon came around with DRM-free MP3s, I’ve actually purchased MORE music than before.

  • Paul Ellis

    I know, I don’t think his argument holds up. The fact that the files aren’t DRM encumbered means that they are inherently worth more to the customer, and therefore more likely to be purchased. Saying DRM-less files are free is like saying CDs are free because they don’t have DRM. Unless they are from Sony. 😉

    Another thing that these people seem to always forget is that the files have ALWAYS been available without DRM, you just had to “pirate” (arr me maties!) them via Limewire/Kazaa/BitTorrent/Napster/etc. They really aren’t enabling people to trade “pirated” content, because everyone has already been doing it. Even if all of the music sold was in a DRM’d format (i.e. CDs didn’t exist) there will always be a way (analog loop?) for at least one person to create a DRM-free version of the songs and put them up for file sharing. It only takes one person to start the fire. Sure, it may sound slightly worse, but it isn’t like fidelity is really that big of a concern, these are MP3s after-all.

    I’m still waiting for the online store that sells music in a lossless compression, or at 24-bit 96khz sample-rate in a more advanced format than MP3. I still buy my CDs and rip to Vorbis. Besides the better sound quality, a nice side effect of Vorbis is that it makes it so nobody wants to copy my music from me. 🙂

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