Heady Links | Digital Music Edition

As usual, there’s a lot going on in the digital music world. Here are a few recent highlights:

Last week, I briefly noted the big hullabaloo over Apple’s Steve Jobs writing an open to letter to the major labels castigating them for continuing to use DRM. Since then, there have been a lot of great responses across the web. These were two of my favorites:

• Wired’s ‘Cult of Mac’ blog wonders why iTunes doesn’t already sell some MP3s?

• Micheal Robertson, original founder of MP3.com, responds with a challenge to Jobs to back up his rhetoric with action, including suggestions to open up the closed iPod/iTunes system, make iTunes for Linux, and sell music in open formats (similar to above)

• Michael Robertson is also the head of another digital music company, MP3tunes.com, which has just announced that it will offer free unlimited music storage for anyone through its music locker technology, called “Oboe” (a Q&A about the new service is available here). So What’s the catch? Well, there’s only a few: 1) it’s ad-supported, 2) files cannot be copy-restricted and 3) they must be under 10MB

• EMI is looking at possibility of saying goodbye to DRM and releasing music as unrestricted MP3s

• Will the Beatles catalog go digital?

• Could music sold without DRM end up costing us less?

• A new study Says P2P music piracy has little affect on CD sales (which continues to be widely-held belief and a relentless talking point by major labels and the RIAA)

• Apparently, not everyone’s poo-pooing the major labels. The White Stripes may sign to Warner Bros (WMG)

• Also, WMG and social networking site Last.fm recently inked a partnership, Last.fm’s first deal with a major label. Good move by WMG in my opinion.

• And last but not least, one of my favorite indie labels, Ropeadope Records, has officially launched its innovative digital-only imprint.

I particularly liked Andy Hurwitz’s letter to the Ropeadope email list (available after the jump)…

“Hey humans –

Wanted to share my giddy feelings about ropeadope digital – our new imprint that launches today. While we will still release a few traditional cds (the Harlem experiment and marco benevento live at tonic are in the mix as we speak) the digital only label will be the big thing. Why? (i) it doesn’t pay for us to put out cds anymore – in case you didn’t hear, the music business is a scam and we’re trying to create our own model; (ii) it’s better for the artists – they will keep ownership of their recordings (we just get a short license to sell them on line) (iii) it finally let’s us get back to why we started ropeadope in the first place – finding great music and putting it out regardless of whether or not the distributors or retail likes whether it sells ten copies or 10,000 copies. But really, from a practical perspective who buys CDs anymore? We looked around our fake-office where we have teenagers and guys in their late 40s and nobody was buying CDs!

Not to mention the fact that there’s nowhere left to buy CDs even if we wanted them! To us, it was a no-brainer. Is this the future? Nah, we feel like it’s the present. The disc is dead. Long live the disc. Today we are proud to release our inaugural class of 6 – the first batch of ropeadope digital – a little sumpin’ for everyone – from hip-hop to avant rock, new breed r&b to old school jazz – we’ve got the goods. And it don’t stop, On the first Tuesday of every month we’ll release 2 new “records” (next up next month you’ll taste the flavor of Philly’s hip hop phenoms the “burn down all-stars” and Iceland’s minimalistic treat “sketches for albinos”……so put some helmets on your ears and get ready for the ride. it’s gonna be fun. Get started with a few hors d’oeuvres – click here to download a free sampler of this month’s releases. Click here to buy the records.“

Andy Hurwitz
Ropeadope Records”


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