Four years ago, the major record labels lined up with Pepsi-Cola to give away 100 million songs through Apple’s iTunes online music store. Fast forward to today.
Beginning Feb. 1 and hitting full stride with ads during this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 3, Pepsi will be giving away upwards of a billion songs from three of the four major record labels through another upstart online music store, AmazonMP3.
The irony here is that four years ago, the record labels were clamoring for ways to protect their content so music lovers couldn’t trade the free songs and downloads purchased online. Apple stepped in with the FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) platform, and the promotion helped iTunes take off and become the No. 1 online music store.
But now the current tide isn’t DRM but DRM-free as the record labels — SonyBMG, Universal Music Group, EMI, and Warner — have joined ranks with AmazonMP3 to offer songs from their catalogs without copy protection, making them playable on any MP3-equipped music player. All but UMG are participating in the Pepsi-AmazonMP3 giveaway.
In the promotion, people who buy Pepsi drinks will receive points that can be redeemed for music downloads at a special section of the AmazonMP3 site. Danny Socolof, president of Mega, the Las Vegas marketing agency that developed the promotion known as “Pepsi Stuff”, told The New York Times that the move away from DRM would “unleash a new age in the music business, and it’s sorely needed.”
The Times’ piece, headlined “Music Industry, Souring on Apple, Embraces Amazon Service,” is a well-worth-reading examination of what’s going on in the music industry, particularly between DRM and DRM-free music, the record labels, and Apple and Amazon.
I just wish I liked soft drinks these days. Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Sierra Mist hold no interest, but if the promotion includes Aquafina water, Propel, and Gatorade, I just might get some free music.
But not Justin Timberlake, OK?