Cheers to Verizon for making one of the first smart mobile music moves: It’s going to let its subscribers buy DRM-free music and download it, over the air, to their phones.
This is a big deal. Every previous buy-a-song-on-your-phone scheme involved some kind of DRM that all but ensured your tunes would stay trapped on your handset. Selling it in MP3 format means you might actually get some utility out of your purchase.
Alas, Verizon, and/or the big music labels, still haven’t figured out how to make mobile music work: They’re trying to charge you a $1.99 a song — a 100% premium — for the privilege of downloading it into your RAZR.
This is the same stupid pricing system the carriers and labels have been pushing for years. And it’s still not going to work. But it does mean we can save ourselves some time and simply cut and paste the argument we made a year ago — the last time someone tried charging us a premium to buy a song on our phone.
Carriers and labels will argue that it costs more to transmit songs over the air to your phone, but that’s their problem, not yours. Since 2003, when Steve Jobs introduced the iTunes store, the maximum price for a tune has been a buck a song, and given the ease with which most songs can be procured for free, the music industry should be happy to get that.
Sadly, we don’t see Verizon changing this anytime soon. In fact, the decision to go DRM-free means we’re even less likely to see rational pricing schemes, because the carriers and labels think they’re more likely to lose sales to piracy when they sell MP3s. We don’t think that’s true, but even if it was, who cares? They’re going up against free, which gets them absolutely nothing. Time to make their offerings more competitive, not less.
See Also: eMusic’s Mobile Mistake