We all love to hate Sony. Sure the PS2 rocked our world, but mostly Sony loves to screw us over. Like how instead of releasing a super-cool MP3 version of their famous Walkman, Sony spent years dinking around with their proprietary and rarely used Atrac3 format. And let’s not forget how Sony lovingly infected our computers with root kits. Or how Sony changed the DRM in Blu-ray discs bricking older Blu-ray players.

So when I heard that Sony-BMG was finally dumping DRM and was releasing MP3s I was shocked. But I assumed Sony in their infinite wisdom would find some way to screw it up. Unfortunately, I was right.

While other labels are conveniently releasing DRM free ACC files on iTunes and MP3s on Amazon, Sony has this convoluted procedure:

Speaking of Sony BMG, the music label confirmed today that it is, indeed, planning to dip its toes into DRM-free waters, albeit via carefully-controlled experimentation. The label told USA Today that it will begin selling gift cards in select brick-and-mortar stores on January 15 for $12.99 that will be redeemable at its planned online music store, MusicPass. Through the “Platinum MusicPass” part of the service customers will be able to select from 37 albums available without DRM.

First, you should never have to follow a convoluted procedure to buy an MP3 on the internet. It has to be easier than P2P or it’s toast.

Second, you should NEVER have to leave your house and drive somewhere to buy MP3s on the net. Never. Ever. God, that’s just a given.

Third, I’m sure glad Sony doesn’t run my local pizza parlor:

“You want a pizza delivered to your house? What are you crazy? Get a pen, you’re gonna want to write this down.

First, you have to leave your house, drive across town and buy a gift card. No, you can’t buy one over the phone, you have to drive across town. And you can’t pay for just one pizza at a time. You have to pay for three pizzas at a time. Yeah, you heard me.

Second, you then have to go back home and create an account on our PizzaPass website. Make sure you sign up for the Platinum version or you’re screwed.

Third, you can now choose between three toppings. One of which is anchovies. Yeah, only three toppings. Maybe we’ll add more, maybe we won’t. Go screw yourself or I’ll come to your house and stab you with a fork.”

  1. Esteban says:

    They’re only hurting themselves.

  2. Jägermeister says:

    They probably lift fingerprints off the gift cards and then sue the shit out of you for having MP3s of their stuff.

  3. Big Joe says:

    What a stellar fuck-up!

  4. Greymoon says:

    They are just proving it could never work… that way.

  5. DavidtheDuke says:

    Sony new motto seems to work as a guide for other companies to avoid

  6. AJ_Syrinx says:

    Muahahahahahahahha! Sony, you guys really don’t like to make money.

    P.S. Loved the PizzaPass analogy, LOL!

  7. phiend says:

    #4 is right in a way.. they will use the failure of this as “people don’t want DRM free mp3’s” and yes, they do think we are that dumb …..

  8. TIHZ_HO says:

    Its a SONY

    Remember those ads? Today it has a different meaning than before.


  9. TIHZ_HO says:

    #7 phiend – Yes unfortunately most of the buying public is that dumb. Marketing execs the siths of the world.


  10. brian t says:

    Nothing new about this at all, it’s standard Sony behaviour. MiniDisc, SDDS (surround sound), UMD (PSP disc format), Memory Sticks… always got to try and create their own standard. Even when they have an advantage, as they did with Betamax, they screw it up with anti-competitive practices, just like Apple did with Firewire. Suffice to say that I don’t buy Sony, ever.

  11. jim h says:

    I think #7 is close to the truth. This is an internal battle within Sony and someone has set this up to fail.

    Or maybe they’re afraid of being sued by their distribution chain. This way the retailer gets a piece of the 12.99 and hopes to sell you a latte while you’re there.

  12. Dvorak says:

    Alas there is a way to easily download DRM free Sony music…

  13. the Three-Headed Cat™ says:

    The people at the top, the executives in Tokyo who these abortions are the handiwork of, are all in their 80s or 90s. I understand the Japanese reverence for age and experience, but it’s waaay past time – for the actual survival of the company – to push the senile bastards over the side and hope it’s not too late. It really would be a tragedy for Sony to go belly-up, they create and produce so much tech that runs from state-of-the-art to bleeding-edge, and no one company could possibly replace them.

    It’s their decision-makers who are totally out of control.

  14. Rob R says:

    Sony re-invents sneaker net!

  15. Wally the Engineer says:

    Sony could take a page from Apple’s book.
    It really amazes me that the company that brought the world the Walkman STILL hasn’t gotten portable music right in the 21st Century.

  16. hello there says:

    Pizzas are not subject to copyright and do not fit through the internet so you are comparing apples to automobiles.

  17. Improbus says:

    I was boycotting Sony before it was all the new cool thing. Word!

  18. ECA says:

    Can you say….DOH!!
    We NOW have a NEW business model…Based on What HOMER Simpson would SAY…


    If it dont work, DOH!, we did it to ourselves.
    If it DOES work, and is SWAMPED, its DOH!
    Why didnt we think of this before?
    Why did we LIMIT the number of selections?
    WHY arent we making money, LIKE THE OTHERS??

    DOH! The NEW business model.

  19. tallwookie says:

    sony sucks, whats new?

  20. ECA says:

    why DID they do it this way??

    HOW ABOUT, dealing with credit card companies…
    CUT the OTHER guy out. NO FEE’s… They dont get charged for access to INTERNATIONAL credit card CORPS, that take Fee’s out of the sales.

  21. TIHZ_HO says:

    #17 hello there – “Pizzas are not subject to copyright and do not fit through the internet so you are comparing apples to automobiles.”

    Hello there, not correct as you missed the point!

    So here it is. 😉

    In the beginning, years ago, the only way to buy music was to go to a shop that sold music, on vinyl records.

    To buy a pizza one would need to go to a shop that sold it, much the same way in buying music. Hmmm…

    Moving along our evolutionary path we humans developed the means of buying a pizza while not having to go anywhere. Pizza delivery was born! Beer delivery, sadly has yet to be developed 🙁

    Moving further in our evolution it was soon possible to eliminate the physical vinyl record and replace it with its electronic digital analogue and by means of the Internet it was possible to buy music with the same convenience as one would buy a pizza.

    Music does not need to be a physical object, like pizza, to be enjoyed it only needs to be heard. An electronic digital form of pizza is currently not possible, but rest assured someone is working on it.

    So yes, while Music and Pizza are dissimilar both in form and how they’re enjoyed their purchase has the same level of convenience… unless SONY has its way.

    Perhaps SONY advocates non-evolutionary processes… so might we see vinyl records reborn? Oh yeah, it is… Ok, Eight Track Tapes then. 😉


  22. Willy says:

    The most interesting thing is that Sony will eventually tell that it is piracy which is responcible for the lack of sales.

    That becomes a standart explanation of screwed business models from companies…

  23. emailc says:

    “Or how Sony changed the DRM in Blu-ray discs bricking older Blu-ray players.”

    Dear God man, that’s not even close to being accurate. Are you drunk or just high?

    Do some research on AACS, which is shared by Blu-ray and the now defunct HD DVD.

  24. Paul says:

    Sony seems to be the poster child for the “Not Invented Here” mindset stereotype. Japanese companies do not seem to be far behind.

  25. SN says:

    17. “Pizzas are not subject to copyright and do not fit through the internet so you are comparing apples to automobiles.”

    God, are you an idiot or what?! Please cite the exact copyright code which requires the purchase of a gift card before music can be bought online. Guess what, there isn’t any code or statute or caselaw. The copyright issue is irrelevant because all the other major labels manage to sell their copyrighted music on the internet without a convoluted process.

    Furthermore, pizzas can be ordered conveniently via the phone (or the internet) much in the same way MP3s can be conveniently ordered via the internet on Amazon. Therefore, the analogy stands.

  26. SN says:

    25. “Dear God man, that’s not even close to being accurate. Are you drunk or just high?”

    Nope, I have the ability to read. Why don’t you try it yourself at this link.

    Here’s a good quote:

    The most severe problems have been reported on Samsung’s BDP-1200 and LG’s BH100, which are both said to be incapable of playing back the discs at all.

    Mmm… Sony changed its DRM making Blu-ray players “incapable of playing back the discs at all”…. sounds like bricking to me. The fact that firmware updates may have later fixed the problem, after consumers were forced to install those updates, does not change the fact that the machine was bricked for weeks for some people.

  27. the answer says:

    This is why I support my local record shop and buy cd’s (sometimes records even). Used mostly, but I get music without any B.S., it’s cheaper per album, AND (most importantly) I am putting my money in the hands of a local business I can trust. Also don’t forget about selling back cd’s. Some stores have a policy about turning back in albums you buy that you get almost all your cash back (minus 2-3 bucks)

  28. Gregory says:

    Ah sony… *sigh* this is why I’m slightly sad about blu-ray apparently winning the war for studio support. I don’t have anything invested in that issue either.

    I mean… worse specs, poorer freedoms, more expensive, less features… it’s more of the same from Sony. Yet still people buy their crap.

    Oh well.

  29. Joey B says:

    all u sony bashers a phony this is a phoney. all these pll are fake. This is a great thing for the masses who dont even know they can get Mp3s for free. Now instead of SJ getting money evey 5th time u want to hear a song (i dont have itunes isnt that how it goes tho?) well u get the idea. i put linux on my iPOD now its the master. bottom line DRM is not cool. u really think they wont sell on line too????


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