To get an idea of where online music is led it is important to understand the history. Let us think back to the time when music downloads first became popular. For me it was spurred from the first Napster days. Everybody was out there going crazy grabbing all music they could find without outcome. Then the RIAA came along and said wait men that is our copyrighted content you are downloading. Since that time the RIAA has been fighting an uphill battle to end copyright infringement. Following the first days of Napster and peer to peer file sharing a new crop of sites popped up offering legal music downloads. Even Napster went legit signing deals with major labels to provide unlimited access to their own offerings. To be able to make this a reality the record industry had to think of a way to protect their investment.
Along came digital rights management (DRM). New DRM technologies have been used to restrict access to media. In essence so long as you are subscribed to Rhapsody for instance you may download and listen to as many tunes as you like. You can even play them on your mp3 player (excluding iPod and Zone). The DRM kicks in by restricting the amount of devices you’ve got access out and cutting access completely once you finish the subscription. Furthermore, companies opted to conduct their own brand of DRM. This means that if you have an iPod or Zone participant your options are extremely restricted. Buy Spotify plays will do their best to you into using iTunes and Zone Marketplace.
During the past couple year’s things have changed quite a bit. Online Retailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart signed deals with the major labels to sell DRM free song downloads. They key here is that you are paying a fee for each MP3 song you download but find the music without DRM restrictions. Even iTunes has begun offering DRM free downloads. Another challenge that confronts online media firms is the ISP’s struggle to decrease network traffic and so reduce congestion during peak times. The lack of community infrastructure, especially in the use, is a large concern. Throttling traffic or charging customers for metered access as Comcast and Time Warner are now testing could drive away customers. We no longer live in a world of text mail and static web pages. Sites now provide rich content including streaming video and audio, social integration and an interactive setting for individuals to gather as you would at the neighbourhood watering hole. Hopefully clients will voice their concerns and ISP’s will then expand their network infrastructures to permit for our ever growing bandwidth requirements.