Tag Archives: drm

Magnatune unveils two new subscription plans

7 May

Speaking of music subscription plans, Magnatune – which offers high quality DRM-free music downloads and podsafe licensing – announced two new ways to enjoy their music this morning:

Now available for the very first time, Magnatune Memberships allows you to hear Magnatune music without any announcements or interruptions between songs! Starting at just $9 a month, you can stream over 500 albums and mixes into iTunes or player of your choice. Listen online all day, every day wherever you are. For serious audiophiles, we recommend our Download Membership, an “all you can eat” plan that lets you download any of our music, whenever you like, as many times as you like, and in any format, including CD quality WAVs. BONUS: BOTH PLANS include access to our new two hour, talk-free podcasts.

I checked out the details of the two plans. For $9 a month you can stream the company’s entire catalog of music, and for $18 a month you can download the company’s entire catalog of music. Let me repeat that part: for $18 a month, you can download every album on the site to your computer. (Magnatune only asks that you not strain its servers by using a downloading robot.) You also get access to streaming audio and members-only music podcasts. Under both plans, 50% of your subscription fee goes to the musicians whose songs you downloaded and/or streamed. Pretty sweet.

I do not recognize a single one of the artists listed on the site. But what I do recognize is if I really want to expand my musical horizons, Magnatune is a great way to go – particularly if I want to explore baroque, classical, medieval, and electronic music. And there are some fascinating oddities, such as Professor Armchair and his “demented 19th century children’s music“.

I’ll have to think about whether membership is right for me, or whether I’d prefer to cherry-pick tracks that I like. But I’m really impressed with the company’s pro-customer, pro-artist policies.

Day Against DRM – "Interchangeability" video

3 Oct

“Take a little trip through the history of recording and see how DRM fits into the bigger picture.”

This is a great video – simple, to the point, and easy for anyone who’s played a record or cassette or CD or music file to relate to.

DRM actually gets worse

28 Sep

I listened with surprise to the latest This Week in Tech podcast and its news that DRM is getting even crazier and worse.

DRM is technology that ‘wraps” around an digital version of a song or book or movie and keeps you from copying it or playing it on any device you want – the most prominent example being songs you buy on the iTunes Store, which can only be played in iTunes or on an iPod.

Apparently when you use the new Microsoft Zune player, you can send a song wirelessly to a friend’s Zune player. Cool! BUT. When you send it, the device adds DRM to the song that wasn’t there before, so that your friend can only play the song three times before it breaks. The problem is that the Zune does this to ALL audio files, not just songs. And many audio files (like the TWiT podcast) are made available under conditions that absolutely forbid this sort of monkeying around.

Meanwhile, the upcoming version of Windows Media Player won’t let you back up the licenses that enable you to play DRM’d media. So if your computer dies, you can’t save your music: Even if you backed up your songs, WMP won’t play them without the accompanying licenses to prove that they’re legit.

Not that Apple is off the hook here. Songs bought at the iTunes Store may only be played on a maximum of five authorized computers. Here’s what “About iTunes Store authorization and deauthorization” says:

Make sure you deauthorize your computer before you upgrade your RAM, hard disk or other system components. If you do not deauthorize your computer before you upgrade these components, one computer may use multiple authorizations. If you find you have reached 5 authorizations due to system upgrades, you can reset your authorization count by clicking Deauthorize All in the Account Information screen. Note: You may only use this feature once per year. The Deauthorize All button will not appear if you have fewer than 5 authorized computers or if you have used this option within the last 12 months.

Emphasis mine. I can only deauthorize all of my authorized computers once a year? I can understand setting up some restrictions so that people don’t cheat the system by rapidly authorizing and deauthorizing all of their friends computers, although it sounds like a lame way to share music. But why not once a week, or month? Bah.

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