Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Dark Side of DRM

I mentioned in this post my delight with the Yahoo Music Unlimited service and how it changed the way I consume music. Well after about 30 days of living with it I can say that change is not always good. The service still works, it just does not work well and is far from a seamless iPod/iTunes experience.

To start with I bought my daughter Emily an orange Creative Zen Micro for her 6th grade graduation. She was very happy. After the initial frustration of upgrading the firmware and software packages to make it work with the Yahoo Music service MS DRM I could not get the actual Yahoo Music Engine to install. I am pretty good with this stuff, I tried everything short of a reformat on her MCE PC.

I punted and just had her rip her CD's to MP3 use the WMP interface. That worked well for a while until she got tired of her music collection and wanted more music. Since I didn't feel like F#$&ing with her PC anymore I installed the Yahoo Music engine on the FR MCE PC. That worked OK but when I tried to download the music I got a "more than three PC" subscription error and had to deactivate a machine. That was the third PC but I tried to deactivate the others and got the unable to deactivate error.

I punted again and just had her use my personal PC to DL the songs she wanted. Of course now my personal music library is now polluted with Diana Degarmo, Simple Plan and the A-Teens.

Next I tried to get my Zen to sync with my PC and I would get an I/O error. I messed with this for about two hours the other night and I finally gave up and reformatted my Zen Micro and installed new firmware. Kind of reminded me of the old Win 98 days, if it does not work then reformat and start all over. That fixed the problem and I can now DL new songs but now about 25% of the songs that I DL say there is a problem with the DRM when I try and load into my Zen. These were the same songs that I previously had no problem with. Maybe I should reformat my PC?

So what is the impact of DRM for the SI industry? The way I see it you should avoid like the plague if you have to install for a third party. You will never finish the project. The end users who pay for our expertise will not tolerate these kinds of caveats the way a teenager would. I am a power user of this type of tech and I can not get it to work as promised. I do not see how a normal consumer could expect to get this to work satisfactory. For the time being I would stick to iPods and non DRM MP3 and CD's.

Speaking of iPods, I regret selling mine. It was easy to use and it always worked. The promise of a Zen Micro, DRM and Yahoo Music Unlimited does not meet with reality.

23 Comments:

Blogger Shawn Oster said...

Stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say I sympathize with your frustrations with DRM. I am happy to pay for music but not at the expense of my time in trying to get everything to work. I purchase most of my music from a Russian website that at least makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing and there is no silly DRM to make my life a hassle.

A side-note, the only time I've ever had any problems with my Zen Micro is with DRM. Like the iPod it works perfectly with non-DRM'd MP3 and WMA files.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Adam Stone said...

Yea, the Zen Micro works great except the battery life is about 3 hrs but is advertised as 12 and needs to be rebooted every once in a while. Kind of like a Windows PC.

FYI, no judgement but the russian MP3 site is not a legal way to DL music. The artists or anyone else for that matter are not getting compensated.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Mike Kozlowski said...

The DRM implementations totally suck, and whoever's in charge of Microsoft's compliance lab should be beaten with sticks. Transferring stuff to my Dell DJ30 is a fraught experience (I've done the wipe and reinstall, and installed hotfixes that are rumored by random people on forums to maybe kinda help), and my wife's iRiver doesn't work any more consistently.

And when I tried a Roku SoundBridge, which would allow me to play this music on my stereo, it was only slightly less flaky: Windows Media Connect crashed a couple of times (leaving a stack trace behind!), and the multi-second "Acquiring License" delay made it painful to actually use.

But there's so much promise! Once the implementations solidify and things stop not working, it will all be so incredibly sweet. My perfervid hope is that the Xbox 360 will be the device that solves the audio-system problem (if a Microsoft-built device running Microsoft software can't do this stuff, then there's no hope until Vista or beyond)...

7:21 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mike Kozlowski

You can use the Roku Soundbridge with iTunes and you can of course run iTunes on Windows. Alas DRM strikes again and you can't play iTunes Music Store tracks but your own CD rips will work fine.

This way you will avoid all the WMP pain and use a media manager compatible with iPods.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my creative zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

8:23 PM  
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Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my creative zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my creative zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous kerry said...

Hi, I've enjoyed visiting your blog. I am trying to get my zen mp3 players site up and running. At the moment I am concentrating on the Zen Touch and Zen Sleek. Sadly, the Zen micro does not appear to still be available from Creative.

I've certainly got some way to go before that site meets the standards of your blog.

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