Well it seems that Steve Jobs meant business after his press release a few months ago regarding his negative feelings towards DRM.
Today, Apple and EMI entered into agreements allowing people to download DRM-free music with a doubled sound quality for a premium and music videos with no added cost on Apple’s iTunes Store. Costing thirty cents more than iTunes’ normal offering of 99 cents-a-song, users now really own their music; DRM, which stands for Digital Rights Management, is technology embedded in media that lets content providers restrict uses of it. For iTunes songs, this means that users previously could only listen to their songs on five computers, and burn their songs onto CD a maximum of 7 times. With this landmark deal, users are now free to do as they please with their media.
Steve Jobs seems to have a bright future in mind for DRM-free media on iTunes. When asked about his projection of 2.5 million unrestricted songs on iTunes by year’s end, said Jobs, “Yes… that is our projection for other labels coming on board as well.”
Addendum: Typed in haste, I forgot to mention in this post that users who’ve downloaded music from EMI artists in the past may convert these purchases to DRM-free, higher quality versions for 30 cents extra. It’d be nice if they didn’t charge a fee, but oh well, I’m more than happy to be able to have DRM-free iTunes content at all!
I remember seeing a prototype of this about two years back, and a few days ago I again stumbled upon something called Monome. It’s a really interesting experiment in design and interaction by way of a silver slab of shiny metal with 64 buttons on its face. What you do with them, however, is where things get interesting. Primarily, it’s been used as an interface for MIDI software applications, with each button acting as a trigger for a sound byte; this allows for some unbelievable live performances, with the actual construction of the song being a performance in and of itself. Several examples of this can be seen in the videos on the site.
The real beauty of Monome, however, is that it gives tactility to what is usually cumbersome software. Say, for instance, you want to create a song with several looping instruments. To do this, you need only select buttons on the grid which correspond with sound files on your computer. As seen below, a sweeping bar of illumination literally passes over the buttons you selected in chronological order, playing its assigned sound, and voilà, a song.
The best thing is that this is just one out of a near endless amount of ways you can interact with Monome. More or less, the only limitation to its flexibility in how the buttons interact with your computer and how you interact with the buttons, is your imagination (and some software, too).
Sometimes it takes something really simple in design to allow room for extensibility, in this case via ingenuity and creativity on the users’ end. Monome is a shining example of this.
A note to fellow fans of the rockin’ band Wilco: tonight, at 11:00 PM EST, there will be a live streaming of the band’s entire new album called Sky Blue Sky, set to be released May 15th!
I’m extremely excited for this, not only because Wilco’s one of my favorite bands, and this will be their newest album in almost two years, but also because Wilco realizes the power of the internet for distribution and garnering hype — something the rest of the music industry largely doesn’t. It’s groundbreaking for a band themselves to put a pre-release copy of an album on the net, and my hat’s off to Wilco.