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PCMag.com reports that the itunes music world is changing significantly. From the article…

At Apple’s final keynote address to the Macworld faithful today, the company made an announcement that should change the way music is purchased from now on—roll it back to the old, better way, I mean. Apple will no longer put DRM code on its iTunes music files. DRM, shorthand for Digital Rights Management, is the “protection” that is encoded into purchased digital audio files, such as songs from iTunes or the Zune Marketplace. The “rights’ being managed and “protected” have never been those of the consumer, but those of the record labels seeking to ensure that customers aren’t tempted to copy the files they’ve purchased and hand them off to friends for free.

Hooray! The stupid, insulting blight to the consumer’s intelligence that is DRM has finally been done away with. Remember stereo cassette players that had dubbing decks on them, for the specific purpose of making “mixtapes” and copies for friends? It might be hard to remember, because these devices coincided with a time when records actually sold and big labels had real budgets. Then something happened: the digital music revolution. CDs gave way to files, and labels feared consumers would never buy music again, only steal it. Their solution: steal from the consumer. With DRM, making “mixtapes” or playlists for friends became a whole lot harder. Paying for music felt a little bit like a scam, since there were limitations on how you could use the music. Would it play on someone else’s MP3 player? If you stopped subscribing to a service, would you lose the songs you paid for because they were “protected”? Unsurprisingly, the record industry slumped horribly, mainly because instead of adapting to a new business landscape, the companies merely reacted, and restricted consumers in ways that they had never been restricted before. Turns out, people don’t like that.

You can read the whole article here.  This is a huge deal.  Basically, it’s huge because it completely nullifies the “legal” claims of the past few years.  We, as music consumers, have been told over and over that file sharing and unauthorized copying of digital music is STEALING.  This was the rationale behind making it illegal, right?  I mean, stealing is illegal… and if file sharing is the equivalent to stealing, then that should also be illegal!  Except, as shown in the article, the “stealing” issue was only a mask for the real concern: record label profits.  The expectation was that file sharing would result in big losses, so it was dubbed “stealing.”  The big losses came anyway, and now with the emergence of a  digital music landscape that suggests file sharing might actually increase profits (as Radiohead’s bold experiment proved), well… all of a sudden the “stealing” is perfectly legal.  Unbelievable.

All that needed to happen was the labels’ being convinced that file sharing would make them more money, not less.  With this conviction they get to just erase all the years of their anti-piracy rhetoric.  To quote Thom Yorke: “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘F___ you’ to this decaying business model.”

I love iTunes. Not the store… I’m talking about the program. The main reason is because of this little trick I started doing right away when I got my computer…

When you transfer a disc into the iTunes library, the software grabs all the data on that disc from the internet so you have it all in the program. Blah blah, we all know about this. This data includes a pre-assigned “genre” for each record, and early on in the process of transferring my 2,000+ records onto my computer (that took a LONG time) I realized that I could rename that “genre” section to whatever I wanted it to be. I discovered this because I thought some of the automatic genre assignments were stupid… like calling a Flaming Lips records “Alternative and Punk.” I clicked on the genre field for the first track on the Soft Bulletin and it highlighted, so I erased “Alternative and Punk” in disgust. Then it hit me: maybe I should just put the name of the drummer on the track as the “genre.” So I typed “Steven Drozd”… and hit enter. It worked. I went up to the genre index and scrolled through it… “Country,” “Jazz,” “Rock/Pop”… “Steven Drozd.” Nice.

Now, I am kind of a geek about music trivia, such as knowing which drummers play on which records and so forth, so you can see why this idea was appealing to me. It definitely took a little extra time to not only upload all of my records, but also open up the liner notes, read who the drummer is, and notate that in the genre section for every track that I put into itunes. But it was worth it. Now I have this music library that I can cross-index by drummer. It totally rules. When I want to look up which records I have that Elvin Jones played on, I just go to the genre index and scroll down to Elvin. Awesome.

If you don’t get excited about that like I do then I think that means you’re just not as much of a geek as I am. If this idea does pump you up though, then you need to take the time to do it for your own iTunes library. You will love it.

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