Talks between EMI and major digital-music retailers about making the beleaguered label’s catalog available free of digital-rights management restrictions have broken down, according to Bloomberg:
EMI, the third-largest music company, demanded an upfront payment to compensate for its risk in releasing the music without software that prevents copying, the people said. The retailers countered with a lower offer, which EMI rejected, and negotiations are now on hold, the people said.
Discussions included Microsoft, Apple Inc., RealNetworks Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., and a deal with some of them seemed close two weeks ago, the people said. CD sales slid last year, giving the idea traction as record companies look to reverse their fortunes. An announcement with London-based EMI had been planned for as early as Feb. 9, one of the people said.
“It’s a setback,” Harold Vogel, an independent media analyst in New York, said in an interview. “That this industry fights every change tooth-and-nail is not helping reverse the tide.’”
Well, not every change–but we digress. This “pay us more up front” scheme sounds suspiciously like the
extortion deal Universal made with the Zune people; it’s a smart move, in a way, because it basically provides a financial out should record sales will remain in their lackluster state. Even though one would think that freeing up format restrictions on digital music would reduce interoperability issues, and make more people at least able to buy music. That makes sense to us, anyway, which is probably one reason why we’re not major-label executives.