Saturday, September 27, 2003

I bought the new Hawksley Workman CD Lover/Fighter today. Though I haven't even listened to it yet, I already feel the need to tell you about my purchase. First off, it was only $12.99. Secondly, inside the CD is a mini CD with snippets from the album, and a message on the mini CD saying "share new music from Hawksley Workman by passing this on to a friend so they can experience some of the songs from Lover/Fighter." Say what you want about this, but I think it's not only a great idea, but shows respect to the listener, while also attempting to combat the P2P sites (though the price alone is good enough to prevent me from downloading the album). The album is not copy protected. Universal has also recently announced that they would be cutting the prices of their new CDs. I'm not even sure if this policy is in effect at this time, but clearly $12.99 Cdn for a new album is cheap!
EMI has also attempted to combat the P2P sites, but has chosen a method which shows NO respect for the music fan, and in fact, admits on every CD sold that their product may not even work on all equipment. Well, if the CD doesn't play on my stereo, what's the point of having it? Who wants to buy something that may not even work? Unfortunately, EMI's roster has a number of great bands on it, most importantly for me, Radiohead. So of course I'm going to continue to buy EMI CDs, but recently realized that my players are not good enough to play copy protected CDs. I purchased the recently released Radiohead two part Go To Sleep singles (which EMI Canada stupidly released three weeks apart), and decided to take the first one for a walk on my walkman, a Sony Sports Walkman (the 2003 version with MP3 player). At the 9 second mark of "Go To Sleep" the song stopped. Dead. So I pulled the CD out, blew on it, and tried it once more. And again, only heard 9 seconds of the song. This walkman is brand new, so I won't accept any sort of suggesting that my player is faulty, since I have NEVER had a problem with any other CDs.
Luckily, the CDs played on my home stereo, but I really don't see that as the solution. The problem is that for me to listen to these songs on my walkman (which is definitely the most used player for me), I will have to burn them onto a CD. Imagine that, combatting P2P sites but forcing people to burn the music (after downloading it from P2P sites, since you can't actually rip the Copy Protected CDs). Good job, EMI.
What's even more offensive is that after you purchase this shoddy product, aside from not getting a free sampler to share with your friends, you get a little note reading "Thank you! On behalf of the creators of this recording, we thank you for making this investment and hope you enjoy the music for years to come!" EMI also printed on the CD case "Playback problems may be encountered on some equipment." Do these two quotations work together? Is it just me, or does EMI seem to throw blame on the equipment as not being incompatible with the CD, and not vice versa.
Though I buy many CDs every month, I think when it comes to EMI artists, I will prefer to download the albums first, and give them a thorough listen to decide if they are worth purchasing, since I will always be limited as to my abilities to play back the CD.
In a Q and A with Roger Kuah, the products manager for EMI, he said as follows:

"Nobody expects the anti-shoplifting steps that retailers take to completely eliminate shoplifting, but they do keep it to keep shoplifting at the minimum level possible. Copy control technology is similar and it means that anyone wanting to crack this technology and illegally distribute copies of the music for free has to make a conscious decision to do so."

An interesting, but completely illogical comparison. Did stores start bringing in lower quality products to prevent people from wanting to steal them? EMI has done this. But, in doing so, have forced some people to go online and steal the music just so they can hear it. What did stores do to fight theft that actually forced customers to steal in order to get the product? I'm stuck on this one, but any answers EMI may have to offer would be greatly appreciated.
In the recent issue of Wired Magazine at p. 53, they have the results of a poll they conducted on readers asking what would stop them from downloading music. 39% of the people polled said cheaper CDs, 23% said iTunes for the PC, 5% said nothing, ever, 22% said other, and 11% said being sued by the RIAA. The same issue also shows at p. 58 that the prices of CDs have risen from 1999 to 2002, while sales have fallen in the same period. Seems Universal is actually taking the music fan into account, whereas EMI is taking . . . well, what the hell ARE they taking into account with copy protection? Wake up EMI, and start selling us reasonably priced CDs, instead of these shoddy products which aren't even CDs (as Kuah admits in his article).
For loads of information on the Copy Protection problems, go here.

posted by Jonathan


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