A confusing report from Billboard says that Sony BMG is going to start selling a limited amount of DRM-free MP3s, via artist-specific gift cards that can be redeemed online. That makes a bit of sense — Sony has been a steadfast champion of keeping locks on its content, but will likely have to capitulate to the anti-DRM crowd sooner than later, and this is a reasonable baby step. The confusing part: Billboard says the gift cards will be redeemed at musicpass.com, a Sony-BMG online store that currently doesn’t exist.
We won’t recount the long and miserable history of record labels trying to create their own online music services and stores here. But if you want a quick refresher, you can visit Connect, the online music store that Sony still (barely) operates. Why on earth would they want to try this yet again?
We still believe that there are a handful of instances where it makes sense for content owners to set up their own online outlet: Viacom’s (VIAB)’s site for The Daily Show, for instance, makes plenty of sense to us. But label-specific online stores make zero sense — if you want music you’re going to go where you can get all of it in one place — like Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes. So Sony BMG must have something else up its sleeve. Right?
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