So Universal is now pursuing DRM free after being vehemently opposed to it. Iíve said it before, Iíll say it again: the record industry is going through a rapid phase of change, so quick that it reveals major fault lines within the management of the majors. (Think UMG exec calling for YouTube to be sued prior to them signing up with them). But the good news is that the voices of reason are apparently being heard.
However, just as David Card says, dropping DRM wonít drive sudden digital music uptake, but it is crucial for itís long term viability. Early adopter may tolerate the ideology of distrust inherent in DRM versus the ideology of trust inherent in CDs, but mainstream consumers wonít. Dropping DRM is essentially equivalent to making a boat watertight before taking it to the water: it wonít float properly without it, but it still needs wind in the sails to go anywhere.
Anyway, as we told you back at the start of the year: the majority of European music execs are actually open to the idea of DRM-free, so expect more labels to follow suit. UMGís move is exactly the sort of development which is also what we predicted here.