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Singer Writes NY Times Op-ed on DRM

The lead singer of the major label band, OK GO got an op-ed piece into the New York Times yesterday. A big up to them, seriously. OK GO is on the EMI label and narrowly escaped EMI’s forceful hand at putting DRM on their most recently-released album and have been doing some anti-DRM talk for some time. DRM stands for digital rights management and refers to any software or hardware that locks down digital content. DRM is supported by the DMCA, which was passed in Congress and says that anything that tries to break that lock is in violation of the copyright. Damian says,

“We are also the sort of band that hasn’t yet gotten the full attention of MTV and major commercial radio stations, so those college students are our only window onto the world. They are our best chance for success, and we desperately need them to be listening to us, talking about us, coming to our shows and yes, trading us.”

The op-ed is an interesting read and gives a good run-down of why DRM is bad for small but majorly signed bands like theirs. Bands in this limbo zone often have a hard time making enough record sales to make a profit over and above the amount they owe to their label. So, there are two major issues involved here:

1a. Small major bands have a tough time making it and find themselves choosing between a rock and a hard place.

1b. Bands that are signed to major labels but aren’t big enough to survive without more radio play need some other form of play. (Read producer, Albini’s expose on the industry and small bands.)

2. Bands that must have DRM on their cd’s or music get a double punch and have less of a chance at getting popular.

This is good news that bands are getting political about their music and their right to let music spread on channels that are open to them, like the internet. It is also good news that the internet’s influence on music is getting mainstream press play, which points to the fact that the internet and the badness of DRM are becoming important pieces of music distribution and marketing.

The first time you may have heard of OK GO may be from their other internet-savvy move — this viral dance video and a half. They’re also really good at getting email addresses after their shows and have a huge and growing email list to advertise their shows on. They’re playing the new digital world music scene in a smart way and leave it up to you to decide if you like their music (and/or their politics).

Thanks, KD for being awares.

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