Sony has opened up its German web shop so that DRM free mp3-music can be bought there. The page doesn’t even requires any kind of Windows software and works with Konqueror.
The history of music on the internet is very twisted: it started off with central file sharing services and quickly developed into large p2p networks. At the same time the big music labels showed an almost unbelievable level of dullness and stupidity when they tried to “battle” p2p networks with lawsuits and DRM secured music. All sides lost something in this war, and I guess the only winner was Microsoft.
Luckily these days are over now and in the US almost all big labels offer DRM free music in MP3. And yesterday Sony Germany joined the club and now offers legal, DRM-free music downloads in high quality. The entire process actually works with Konqueror (3.5.9 on Fedora 8), so there is no need for Microsoft software at all. If I saw it right there wasn’t even flash or anything else used. Just a plain page which, in the end, offered me the files inside a zip container.
And it worked!
Of course this doesn’t mean that the prices are very good, or that the artists get more money, or that there might not be a hidden water mark in the music to track you down. Also, MP3 isn’t really perfect, and I would very much have preferred to get music in OGG or FLAC. But 320 kbps MP3s are quite good for a first step, it could also have been 92 kbps WMAs.
Sony didn’t move this because they are nice, but because the market forced them!
But exactly that fact shows that users can force the companies. And that it makes sense to nag and ask and complain again and again. In they end, they will move.