Print 13 comment(s) - last by christojojo.. on Jan 12 at 7:28 AM

Picture on the plastic, music on the machine.   (Source: Sony BMG Music Entertainment)
Sony BMG kills the DRM but burden's customers by clinging to an outdated business model

Although referred to as a “digital album card” in Sony’s press release, the Platinum MusicPass itself is a just piece of plastic, a manifestation of major record labels’ yearning for the past. Sony BMG is attempting to walk a line between appeasing their customers and breathing life into the classic business model of selling physical copies of whole albums.

The album cards, which have been called “highly collectable,” contain no music. They are more like gift cards but without all the options. After purchasing the card customers can access the album by scratching the back of the card to unveil a PIN. They then go to and enter the PIN to access their album. Purchasing a MusicPass is like buying a scratcher lotto ticket that is guaranteed to win.

The terms and conditions of redeeming your winnings have not been spelled out yet. It is unclear how many times a single PIN can be used to download an album from the website, nor is it clear whether the tracks will contain digital watermarks or other anti-piracy features.

What is unique about the Platinum MusicPass, besides the nifty plastic card, is that it appears to lock costumers into buying whole albums. In the download age, some have questioned whether the album is still a relevant format for delivering music. Purchasing albums means the customer must pay for songs they might not enjoy. Selling albums is beneficial to record labels in that it helps them profit from unpopular songs. It is also good for musicians who must recoup recording costs through their royalties.

The practice also disinclines customers from purchasing albums with only a few good songs. Either way Sony’s Platinum MusicPass is clearly an effort to adapt the old business model, i.e. full-length physical albums, to new media.

If the Platinum MusicPass seems like a paradoxical idea, it also sounds like one. An enthused Best Buy VP said they were “happy to be participating in the launch of a new physical format of digital music for retail.”   Even this spin statement sounds silly and the new physical format of digital music sounds like an unnecessary barrier between consumers and their music. 

Although it is good news for consumers that Sony is moving away from DRM, it is hard to believe that many digital music customers will be drawn to this program. The constraints of the old music business model are seem likely to turn-off people who are used to choosing when and how many songs to download.

Of course you can’t fault the record labels for trying to beat a dead horse because the current alternative looks even more bleak in their eyes. In a world were no money is made from selling music, artists are paid nothing for their art and must earn their living through commercial appearance and branded content…

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By mjcutri on 1/9/2008 4:23:04 PM , Rating: 4
When i first heard that sony was going to sell DRM free MP3s, I got excited. My first thought was that Amazon's library of DRM free MP3s would be expanding. Then I read the articles since and realized that this is just another attempt of a music label resisting the inevitable and trying to maintain the status quo. one step forward two steps back.

I really wonder about where Sony is going in all of this. On one hand they just released some very nice DRM free MP3 players
(check out the S618 - )

And then they have to handicap their music by forcing you to physically go to a store to buy entire albums on a card just to get a pin so that you can go home and download it. I just don't get it

RE: Yea!!!...NOOO!!!
By mjcutri on 1/11/2008 8:12:36 AM , Rating: 2

SonyBMG IS going to allow Amazon to sell their songs.


RE: Yea!!!...NOOO!!!
By PandaBear on 1/11/2008 9:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
Agree, this idea is worse than selling physical CDs for not much cheaper.

By ElFenix on 1/9/2008 5:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
they took something that takes almost no physical space, digital data, and bundled it with more garbage that will undoubtedly end up in landfills.

(before you mod me down, those bits are going to be stored somewhere on your harddrive, which is physical space)

RE: retarded
By Etsp on 1/10/2008 10:16:22 AM , Rating: 3
All of those bits already exist on the hard drive, downloading and storing data doesn't add the number of bits there, it just changes the values.

RE: retarded
By christojojo on 1/12/2008 6:55:22 AM , Rating: 2
(before you mod me down, those bits are going to be stored somewhere on your harddrive, which is physical space)

All of those bits already exist on the hard drive, downloading and storing data doesn't add the number of bits there, it just changes the values.

Lol! That's what I love about DT; if you anticipate a flaw and try to patch it, someone will find a flaw with your patch.

Meant more for gifts, I think
By noirsoft on 1/9/2008 7:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
I think the idea of this is geared more towards buying someone the gift of a specific album rather than buying someone a $10 gift card and saying "download whatever you want" -- a lot of people don't like giving or receiving gift cards because of the perceived impression of the gift-giver "not having put much thought into the gift"

It may fail in the marketplace as a whole, but those who say that there is no point to it at all clearly don't understand certain aspects of human psychology.

RE: Meant more for gifts, I think
By Lastfreethinker on 1/10/2008 6:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
I have always seen Money is the most thoughtful gift all because you can use it for whatever you want.

By christojojo on 1/12/2008 6:58:21 AM , Rating: 2
I have always seen Money is the most thoughtful gift all because you can use it for whatever you want.

should you be called "lastfreethinker" or should you be called "FirstNationalTrust"? ;)

Interesting concept, not sold on the price
By killerroach on 1/9/2008 3:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
$12.99 for an album? Sure, it's cheaper than most physical CDs anymore, but that's just due to the prices on them rising so much than anything. Not to mention it's effectively competing against iTunes' $9.99 album price... but with limited selection and availability.

If the cards were reworked so that you could buy any album with any one card, then there's a potential appeal there. Also, I think I'll wait to see some more in-depth writeups on the quality of the MP3s and the value-added content (Sony is trying to "apologize" for the higher cost by throwing in a couple of music videos or whatnot) before making a decision one way or the other on it. As it stands at present, though, it seems like a solution that's every bit as bad as the problem.

By christojojo on 1/12/2008 7:28:11 AM , Rating: 2
First, let me say that I have liked many of Sony's tech toys but hate their proprietary business model. Sony makes me imagine the kid next door that gets a new "it" toy and shows it to everybody then wont share. This is then promptly followed by Sony asking, "why isn't anybody playing with me?"

Secondly, here are the possible pluses of Sonys new "album" approach.

1 Older (40's and up) people are more use to the buying the album to get one good song marketing approach.

Note: I'm 44 and I have always hated it. I do know many my age and above that don't rip cds of buy DL music because they "don't have time" (too confusing).

2 Sometimes, it is nice to know someone is paying attention enough to you to know that you love a certain group, album, song.

3 Its better than Sony's last method. We should applaud their attempt and hope they will continue on with their reformation ;)


1 Older People who buy albums/cds tend not to be tech savvy. I know many owners of the $500+ "windows solitaire and internet browser" gaming systems.

2 The cards are locked onto that one album instead of linking to the one on the "cover" of the gift card and allowing you to use it for a different one.

I don't know about you but I may joke about the old Lawrence Welk Show but I don't want an album of it.

3 Pricing yet another Sony weak point (UMDs anybody? $30 for a movie in UMD vs the same movie in DVD for $15? Uhhh, NO!)

Not quite...
By TomCorelis on 1/9/2008 4:08:44 PM , Rating: 3
A "new physical format" needs to be higher quality audio discs. We as music purchasers have regressed, by trading fidelity with convenience.

While I'm glad to finally see DRM getting the boot, I really feel that lossy compression needs to be banished as well.

Platinum MusicPass would be revolutionary if the albums were in FLAC format, not MP3.

By Vanilla Thunder on 1/9/2008 3:55:09 PM , Rating: 2
This is the one of the worst ideas....ever.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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