Saturday, January 28, 2012

If You're Not Going to Let Me Buy the Song, At Least Make it Simple

Subtitled: Why Piracy Will Never Go Away
Also subtitled: Reducing Friction for Content Is the Definition of Digital

So, I had a musical flashback to "Jokerman," which is on a couple of Dylan albums I have on CD and in iTunes. Awesome.

Is there a live version on iTunes? Yes, but it took two clicks to find out why and how I can't buy it.

The first message said it's not available in the US store, and directed me to the Ireland store.

Clumsy, but okay -- until the second message said nyah, nyah, nyah; people in the US can't buy a song from a store someplace else.

This is two levels of foolish.

1. If iTunes won't sell it to me, one message saying so would suffice.

2. A backend that can deny a sale to a US IP address/iTunes ID should also be smart enough to prevent a pointless redirect.

Of course, just allowing a sale to someone who wants to buy something would have been the smart customer experience.

The forced restrictions took me back to college, when my music geek friends who had really enormous speakers were enraptured with their latest "import" album purchases -- social objects that were obscure and expensive and difficut to acquire.

But digital should mean the end of all that. Digital doesn't care where you are. Digital crosses all borders. Digital just is.

And there are many, many, many live versions of "Jokerman" on YouTube, from everywhere.

Postscript: A friend who used to work at a music label said the restrictions are probably more of a case of forgetting to manage the back catalog than attempts to restrict markets geographically, which is worse in some ways and better in others.

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