As Apple Enters Streaming

Ahead of Monday’s likely announcement of a streaming music service from Apple, I went back to read Steve Jobs’s blogpost from 2007 on DRM and the state of the digital music economy. Jobs writes clearly and his argument is sound, but his frustration is evident; the post is actually part attack on the “big four” record labels’ shortsightedness, and part lobbying effort toward openness.

What would Jobs have thought of the prospect of streaming music? It seems like a half-way house between siloed ecosystems and platform agnosticism: you get to listen to whatever you like, but you don’t own any of it1, as a consequence of which it’s easy to up sticks and move to a competitor without losing anything apart from some easily recreated playlists. It feels like a compromise, and one in which neither the artists nor the listeners truly win. The labels continue to profit though, and that’s ultimately what made streaming services inevitable and the eradication of DRM an improbability.

  1. not even to the extent that you own the music you download or even buy on disc (check the EULA). ↩︎