Sorry for two Yahoo related posts in one day, but that's the way the cards fall sometimes. I'll put my pom poms down after this.

foo Ian Rogers, the general manager of Yahoo! Music has posted Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends, a presentation he gave to some music industry execs recently.

In that presentation, he does an excellent job of succiently using his own career in this business to explain the last 8 years of failed attempts to incorporate DRM into most online music offerings.

When you compare the experiences on Yahoo! Music, the order of magnitude difference in opportunity shouldnít be a surprise: Want radio? No problem. Click play, get radio. Want video? Awesome. Click play, get video. Want a track on-demand? Oh have we got a deal for you! If youíre on Windows XP or Vista, and youíre in North America, just download this 20MB application, go through these seven install screens, reboot your computer, go through these five setup screens, these six credit card screens, give us $160 dollars and POW! Now you can hear that song you wanted to hearÖif youíre still with us. Yahoo! didnít want to go through all these steps. The licensing dictated it. Itís a slippery slope from ďa little controlĒ to consumer unfriendliness and non-Web-scale products and services.

Part way through, we get a sense of what Ian is made of:

Iím here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, Iím not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, Iíll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign. I wonít let Yahoo! invest any more money in consumer inconvenience. I will tell Yahoo! to give the money they were going to give me to build awesome media applications to Yahoo! Mail or Answers or some other deserving endeavor. I personally donít have any more time to give and canít bear to see any more money spent on pathetic attempts for control instead of building consumer value. Lifeís too short. I want to delight consumers, not bum them out.

He's not willing to waste another 8 years before the situation gets to where we all know it should be.

If you're at all interested in DRM and music, I highly recommend checking it out.

It's people like Ian that make me proud to be part of this company and this industry.

Nice job, Ian!

Posted by jzawodn at October 08, 2007 12:50 PM

Reader Comments
# Mike Macgirvin said:

It probably wasn't me that instigated this, but it was in fact just 2-3 days ago that I canceled my Yahoo! Music subscription with the footnote - 'Dump DRM. Just do it.' I can only imagine thousands of other folks saying something similar.

I really don't require or have any use for the player software. I've got a player. In fact I've got several. And none of them play along with the other players - and require you to re-acquire licenses in order to keep playing. Just give/sell me MP3's - like Amazon now does.

on October 8, 2007 05:35 PM
# Guillaume Theoret said:

Thank you so much Ian!

Finally someone with clout standing up to the labels.

on October 8, 2007 05:36 PM
# David Golden said:

I don't interact with Ian, but really appreciate his comments. Please say thank you to him for me.

on October 9, 2007 06:27 AM
# A Gould said:

Someone needs to get all the music execs in a room with two laptops, and do the following:
1) On laptop A, sign up for iTunes/Yahoo/whatever DRM site (maybe do this multiple times to reinforce the point).
2) Buy the DRM-"protected" music.
3) Burn it to a CD.
4) Go to laptop B, turn on matching program, insert CD.
5) Watch software automatically rip it to nice unprotected format of my choice.
6) Beat execs over heads with laptop(s) until they understand that DRM does nothing except aggravate their customers.

on October 9, 2007 11:11 AM
# AV said:

The same applies to Yahoo! Music. For years now, player does not support Firefox.

This means that Yahoo Music's great features like 'My Station' are available exclusively to IE users. Sad.


on October 10, 2007 01:09 PM
# DE said:

one word to make YMU more usable: fairuse4wm.

on October 12, 2007 12:03 PM
# Mark said:

Unfortunately, Ian's words are nothing but that, words.

He pays lip service to not being lame, but then the reality is very different from the lip service. Why do I no longer have Yahoo! Music? Because Yahoo! decided to completely and intentionally disable a perfectly good client on Win2K, and tell me that I could no longer have the service unless I "upgraded" to Windows XP. This was last year.

The only "feature" Windows XP has that Win2K doesn't that could possibly have been significant to Yahoo!'s decision is built-in DRM. Win2K has some DRM hooks too, but they aren't nearly as deeply intertwined as those in XP and (shudder) Vista.

Unless Yahoo! changes its lame stance and re-enables its previously perfectly working Windows 2000 client (not to mention delivering a Mac OS X client), the hype doesn't mean anything.

on October 14, 2007 09:20 PM
# Adam said:

I have an enormous amount of respect for Ian... his philosophies, his conviction, his willingness to stick his neck out. Oh, and he even has a super alma mater :P (Indiana University - Bloomington).

While I'm not 100% convinced his thoughtfully articulated concerns will translate into near-term reality for Yahoo Music, at least now I can be a bit more optimistic about my YMU subscription and the future of subscription music in general.

So... a big huzzah to Ian, and also a thanks to you, Jeremy, for rightly highlighting his smart sentiments!

on October 23, 2007 03:10 PM
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