“Big Label” Unrestricted Music Files?

The “buzz” is all over the place. Record labels are considering unrestricted music files as a means to compete with the “closed garden” music systems of Apple and Microsoft.

Wow, and I thought snow here in Portland last week was pretty cool.

As written about earlier, we’re placing the second season of The Affiliate Guy Podcast up at eMediaMarketplace as an MP3, instead protected Windows Media File.

Why would I do this?

Honestly, if two affiliate marketers are going to get together and decide to rip me off, the Windows Media Protection does nothing to stop them. You know the usual options – burn it to a cd, etc. It just isn’t that hard. If I can put a copy of Star Wars on my iPod with a single click, The Affiliate Guy doesn’t have a chance.

But, by making them MP3s, we spend little to no time at all on customer support, etc.

Will I get ripped off on occasion? Yes.

Will I not have a single customer upset with me because I offer the content without restriction? Yes.

The technology to deliver the content is only going to get cheaper and cheaper. We have to understand and act as if the ease of passing the content from one person to another doesn’t matter any more.

Because it doesn’t.

The models for music are changing quickly. The one thing Microsoft did do right with Zune was build a machine that can handle whatever “ends up happening” very easily. They play MP3 just as easily as the protected stuff and could as easily switch off the sharing restrictions as they turned them on. Try that opportunity set with the iPod.

But back to the topic at hand. When it is as easy as pie to get whatever music you want onto your music player, you’re doing to have to build a business model that is very different than 1 good song and some lousy ones on a $15 piece of plastic (selling for less at Wallmart than the digital version at iTunes).

I think they can do it.

By the way, I can put Star Wars on my iPod with the few clicks of a button but the cool DVD case that it comes in, the extras, the Easter Eggs, etc. – they all make it worth the money spent. When we launch the paid version of the Affiliate Guy Podcast, there will be some very clear reasons for being a paying member as well.

Disclaimer: I am a part owner in eMediaMarketplace and, hopefully this is obvious, profit if someone buys an episode of the Affiliate Guy Podcast.

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