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The Big Boys Begin to Catch On

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 8, 2008 9:30PM

Frankly, whenever we read about record sales, digital rights management, and record companies, we usually switch off because the whole issue is stupid and always ends up more complicated than it should (iTunes or iTunes Plus?). The major record labels have always reminded us of our Drunk Uncle Pete; they're late to the party and only after our money, while indie labels have been distributing DRM-free music through retailers like eMusic for a while now.

2008_01_no_drm.jpgChicago's own Thrill Jockey label runs the excellent and extensive Fina, a clearinghouse-esque site that offers downloads from dozens of indie labels, including Chicago-based labels Locust Records and Bloodshot Records, as well as their own roster. All songs downloaded from Fina are high-quality and DRM-free. Each record purchased can be downloaded up to five times, and previews are available for all songs.

And this trend isn't just bubbling up in the indie underground. In a move that surprised no one, Sony BGM has announced that they will jump on the growing bandwagon of labels offering up DRM-free mp3's for purchase. This follows on the heels of similar announcements from major labels Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and EMI Music Group PLC.

For anyone following the latest record sale numbers, these announcements should come as no surprise. The AP reported this week that U.S. album sales fell by 9.5 percent while digital tracks jumped by 45 percent. Of course, with 2007's three best-selling albums in the country being by Josh Groban, The Cast of 'High School Musical', and The Eagles (God, how we hate The Eagles, just like Lebowski), we have further proof that while America's ability to navigate digital stores has improved, its musical tastes have not.

All of this proves one thing we've been thinking all along: this internet thing just may be catching on.

Image via

Thanks, Marcus!