Fall Out Boy & the Record Industry’s Botched Incentives

So Steve Jobs threw down the gauntlet and said that digital rights management (DRM, the digital copyright protection that keeps anyone from buying a song from iTunes and giving it to everyone) is a requirement of the record companies and if they’d be willing to get rid of it, Apple would drop it in a heartbeat. In one smooth step Jobs redirected any ill will towards Apple for the cumbersome DRM to the feet of the record labels.

I comment on this because in his argument Jobs points out that the vast majority of music are sold with no DRM whatsoever (CDs). And while CD sales are declining, it doesn’t appear that this lack of copyright protection is bringing down the industry–nor are the record labels moving to add DRM to CDs (perhaps because every attempt has made them look foolish).

So while we wait for the record labels to realize that draconian rules about sharing music don’t work, they have other solutions. Like the latest Fall Out Boy CD, Infinity on High.


The Record Label’s Incentive
I bought a copy today, primarily because I saw a notice on their web site that if you bought the CD in the first week you could download the Leaked in London EP for free. That and the fact that retailers are forcing record labels to price new releases competitively with iTunes meant I could get the physical CD, the liner notes, and a free EP for the same price as downloading the digital music from iTunes. That’s worth a trip to the store. Maybe.

So how does the free digital download work? Not well.

  • Attempt #1: Enter all my info and it tells me it’s not compatible with Firefox. Please use Safari.
  • Attempt #2: This offer requires downloading the CDPass software which will verify that you own the CD in question. Please download the software, install it, and restart your browser. Oh yeah, you better disable your pop up blocker.
  • Attempt #3: Error message.
  • Attempt #4: Finally, music to download.

Best Buy Exclusive Tracks
Plus there’s the option for Best Buy exclusive tracks, one new song and a remix proudly advertised in a sticker on the CD packaging. Inside is a card with a download code (what, Big Brother doesn’t have to verify that I own the CD first?) and the note that it requires Windows Media Player and is not compatible with Macs (Nevermind that the url they give, www.falloutboy.islandrecords.com/bestbuy doesn’t work. I knew why, but how many others will know how to make it work?). Not compatible with Macs?! Would have helped if you put that on the outside.

What do you think my chances are of returning the opened CD with the complaint that the bonus is not Mac compatible and they didn’t disclose that on the outside of the packaging?

Hmm… anybody with a PC want my exclusive downloads? (I was able to download them anyway, though online it only told me “Using Internet Explorer 6+ and Windows Media Player 9+ is strongly recommended,” and said nothing about not being Mac compatible.

The Record Labels Don’t Get It
Well that was a pain. The CD you wanted me to buy has no protection whatsoever, but the extras I get as a reward for buying the physical CD have so many digital hoops it’s ridiculous (yet the actual files I get are unprotected mp3s) or I can’t even play them. Wow. Buy our unprotected CD and we’ll give you all these over-protected digital files. We trust you with the CD, but we don’t trust you with the incentive for buying the CD.

So. Maybe I should have just bought it from iTunes, huh?

(links via Josh Lewis!, kottke.org)

3 thoughts on “Fall Out Boy & the Record Industry’s Botched Incentives”

  1. So, I must be pretty dumb, since I can’t figure out how to get to the Fall Out Boy / Best Buy incentive site. Any tips?

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