So the big news today is that the world's largest music label is climbing into bed with Microsoft in an attempt to seize power over the digital music industry.
This fills me with questions. Should the world's largest record label be able to marshall full control over music distribution? Does a collusion (if collusion it is) between the world's leading music label and the world's biggest software company (Microsoft) to affect market development break any existing anti-trust laws? Is it appropriate that Microsoft (through a partner) is attempting to exercise market dominance to literally switch off a competitor, and does this break the terms of its oversight by the DOJ?
I can't answer these questions at this time, but I strongly believe that any move which favours putting backwards-facing music labels and anachronistic and anti-competitive software firms in command of the future of the new digital media economy will stymie innovation and set development of the legal online musc market backwards, rather than forwards.
All this market activity around a device that consumers don't want to use (Zune) in order to topple the market leader (Apple) just in order that Universal can take more of the money raised through online music sales seems a little sad to me. It's not the artists who stand to gain - they'll still be exploited to keep second tier label management in clover.
While Apple isn't perfect, surely the best resolution to all of this is for the labels to supply a blanket downloading license to consumers, and for all music and other media to be offered DRM-free?
These steps don't seem to me to be anything to do with unfettering the music market, but to be focused on limiting future growth, a classic backwards step that will further alienate music consumers.
Seems a terrible shame to me.