The word on the street (if the technology world really has a 'street' as such - more an Information Super Highway... see what I did there?!) had us expecting Sony BMG to drop DRM this week and it has, just not quite in the way everyone wanted.
Instead of unbridled DRM-free access to the label's immense catalogue, what we have ultimately been served today is the 'Platinum MusicPass'. This is a fiddly system of physical 'digital album cards' which, once purchased, require customers to scratch the back of their card to unveil a pin number. From here they visit MusicPass.com to download their DRM-free tracks. How very… what's the word: ridiculous stupid farcical short-sighted I'll stick with annoying.
Furthermore, the cards will be available for retail only in stores (yep, Sony BMG is having none of that newfangled Internet purchasing stuff) meaning we have to drive to the shops to attain our digital tracks. Topping it all off, only a selection of 30 albums (all MoR) and five compilations will initially be available.
"We see MusicPass as a great way to bring digital music to the physical retail space," said Thomas Hesse, President of Sony BMG Digital Sales, in one of the most confusing comments I've ever had the pleasure of quoting. After all, surely the point of digital music is to… oh never mind!
If there is one saving grace to this madcap scheme however it is in terms of price. Each MusicPass album will cost just $12.99 (probably would've been $10.99 if they hadn't tried to wrap MP3s in packaging - go Greenpeace!) meaning it isn't going to burn a hole in your wallet (though the petrol used driving to the store might). Furthermore, some titles will come with bonus material such as interviews and music videos, though they'll also be priced at a higher $19.99 which doesn't make it much of a 'bonus'.
Baffling? Yes. Illogical? Yes. Doomed to failure? Most certainly. Typically Sony? Absolutely.
Press Release - In possibly the most unreadable font ever.