DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

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Basslint
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DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by Basslint »

Premise: I know that record labels put certain restrictions to how their music can be distributed, so this probably does not apply to music released by the major labels and only to independent releases. And I know about Jamendo but I am not talking about Creative Commons-licensed music, I am talking about all music.

Do you think it's possible to make a music streaming service (like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer or TIDAL) which does not use DRM (or proprietary software at all) and at the same time grants proper loyalty payment and makes sure that only paying users have access to music?

I think so. In fact, it would be not be much different from any other subscription-based web service, and simple encryption and watermarking might be enough to discourage rippers and leakers. DRM is already ineffective, because once music enters the analog realm, it escapes any kind of digital rights management, so if anything it would offer the same degree of protection current streaming services already offer.

Do you think such a service could ever exist and be profitable, for both its investors and artists? I think so, for a number of reasons:
* Royalty fees on streaming services are very low, sometimes below a cent per stream
* There are many less popular artists which make small to no profits on streaming services. They benefit from the exposure but not much more
* Thanks to playlists and recommendations, the artists which earn the most royalties are those who already are the most popular
* There are tons of fine independent artists, some of which have been dropped off their major labels, who might benefit from higher royalty payments
* Spotify operated at a loss for many, many years. This means that their model does not work for both investors and artists, but it's apparently good for marketing reason
* Many artists, even famous ones, already release their music DRM-free on sites like Bandcamp

What are your thoughts about it? Do you think any of the popular independent labels, say Domino (Franz Ferdinand), Hyperdub (Burial) or Ninja Tune (Bonobo) would release their music on a DRM-free music streaming service, or do you think only the smaller independent labels and self releasers would be interested in it?
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

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bluebell
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by bluebell »

Somafm.com is legal, pays royalities and doesn't use DRM.
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Basslint
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by Basslint »

bluebell wrote:Somafm.com is legal, pays royalities and doesn't use DRM.
Is it also a music streaming service (i.e. you can select which track you listen) or only a radio?

Digitally Imported (and its affiliated radios, ClassicalRadio, RadioTunes, JazzRadio and RockRadio) is a similarly DRM-free radio, however I was referring more to music streaming in which you can choose which tracks to play :D
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

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bluebell
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by bluebell »

Basslint wrote:
bluebell wrote:Somafm.com is legal, pays royalities and doesn't use DRM.
Is it also a music streaming service (i.e. you can select which track you listen) or only a radio?

Digitally Imported (and its affiliated radios, ClassicalRadio, RadioTunes, JazzRadio and RockRadio) is a similarly DRM-free radio, however I was referring more to music streaming in which you can choose which tracks to play :D
It's only a radio.
Linux – MOTU UltraLite AVB – Qtractor – https://soundcloud.com/suedwestlicht

jonetsu
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by jonetsu »

The big thing would be to convince labels (of any type) to let go of their DRM while assuring them substantial revenues. Or at least revenues at par. But then the first question will be, you are stripping away their wish for DRM (since they use DRM services for a reason), so how much will you be cutting into their potential revenues at the same time ?

"Potential" is the perception one has when subscribing to DRM. "Actual" is the reality they face but "potential" can linger on for quite some time. Even if they might be not making much money, the "potential" still exists. If you take this away from them, what then ?

Basslint
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by Basslint »

jonetsu wrote:The big thing would be to convince labels (of any type) to let go of their DRM while assuring them substantial revenues. Or at least revenues at par. But then the first question will be, you are stripping away their wish for DRM (since they use DRM services for a reason), so how much will you be cutting into their potential revenues at the same time ?

"Potential" is the perception one has when subscribing to DRM. "Actual" is the reality they face but "potential" can linger on for quite some time. Even if they might be not making much money, the "potential" still exists. If you take this away from them, what then ?
You are right, however DRM is a technical impossibility (even Bruce Schneier who is way more competent than I can ever be thinks so) It is never going to be able to prevent piracy, because music is always going to turn into a signal at some point.

I've always been a proponent of legality, as I don't believe in subjective morals - so, if certain music is DRMed, I won't be able to listen to it. But I am also willing to pay for music, so it's clear that the current situation is not economically efficient, for them as well - they are not earning the money I am willing to give them for their music.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

Basslint
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by Basslint »

I am bumping my own thread to ask for information - do you know any music streaming services that can be used via a web browser and don't require DRM except Jamendo?

Right now Youtube seems the only one, but the royalty payments are abysmally low.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Wanna make music on openSUSE? Check out GeekosDAW!

S1gmoid
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by S1gmoid »

We could make our own, I guess. A little rebellion of artists against major labels.

Now there's something about this though.. How would DRM-free status be marketable in a streaming service? In an online store like Bandcamp or iTunes Store, it makes sense that you want music to be DRM-free, as you bought it, and should be able to listen to it on whatever device you like.

With streaming, you're not legally allowed to make a copy of the music, beyond local caching. Who cares if the cache is encrypted. "Here, artists, indie labels, use our service, it's like Spotify, only people can steal your music easier!" ...and "Here, users, music lovers, use our service, we don't have a lot of content but you can steal it!" :lol: :roll: rotfl

It's not even that you can't implement DRM in open source. You totally can. And yes, DRM is not a bank vault, it's more like a bicycle combination lock - more symbolic than anything else... But again, how do you sell its lack?

So... Maybe a different revenue model could be used entirely. One that allows for a voluntary payment and distribution of royalties from consumers. (Since it's become a selling point that they can listen to music offline, maybe even on their 8 year old iPod, you can no longer use in-app statistics to distribute royalties.) Kind of like an all you can eat restaurant, you subscribe, and you're allowed to make copies of the music and keep them as long as you're subscribed. It might even work, but it won't be easy to get it to make money.

Openmastering
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Re: DRM-free music streaming - is it possible?

Post by Openmastering »

Well there is bandcamp. You stream as much as you want and if you want to, you buy the music.
No DRM.

And they are a nice bunch of people
Audio mastering for open minds: https://openmastering.studio
I master music using only free/libre softwares and DIY hardware.
Contact me for a free mastering sample.

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