Here we go again...but I'll bite.
>"If only we had DRM free options at a reasonable cost, there would be little need for piracy." - dreadful scathe
...Agreed. Either the cost is higher than the customer is willing to pay, or protectionist barriers are in place. That'd be the DRM.
>"Do you live in a cave? We've had DRM-free music for a year now. You're just finding excuses not to pay" - Paul M.
...The only DRM-free service that I'm aware of that has a full scope of labels is 7digital. Their prices are within a gnats chuff of buying the CD outright. Which is an absolute nonsense.
>"You mean like a CD? Or is the cost not "reasonable" enough for you?" - JonB
...As it happens, I still buy CDs exclusively, rather than paying over the odds for an intangible MP3 download or delving into the murky & choppy waters of P2P. But 90% of my purchases come from Amazon Marketplace (shipped! from the US!) for less than the price of a download. So neither the artist or the label get a penny. I get a tangible artefact. No need to faff around with shared folders on a home WLAN and diligent backups. And the private sellers have probably ripped the CD before selling it (if they've got any sense). Supply and demand, innit? (admittedly a little skewed by those that buy, rip, and sell on).
FACT: Allofmp3.com had it absolutely bang on. Choice of quality of the download from a range available and pay accordingly. Cavernous back catalogue. A realisation that a. downloaded. album. of. 12. MP3. tracks. is. worth. no. more. than. a. £5. and. more. like. £3. I repeat: a. downloaded. album. of. 12. MP3. tracks. is. worth. no. more. than. a. £5. and. more. like. £3.***
SUGGESTION: Once the "legit" allofmp3.com arrives, rather than a /tax/ on storage, there could be a /discount/ on big ol' hard drives if you sign up to a subscription or pay for X-amount up-front. That way I can more easily back up the stuff that I'm buying.
***Once upon a time, selling recorded music required the following:
a) Specialist equipment & studios,
b) Specialist labour and technicians,
c) Specialist printing plants to make up the black/shiny slabs of plastic,
d) Specialist distribution networks to deliver the product to the shops,
e) Specialist shops to sell the product,
f) Specialist media channels to plug the product in the shops, &
g) Specialist peeps to push or discuss the music (pluggers or journos).
Today, a)-f) and arguably g) are an irrelevance. Anyone with:
h) an affordable computer, and
j) the inclination,
can get their recording to the end users/consumers.
Perhaps you could go with some paid promo from someone with the biz contacts if you to go for fame and glory. Or you could slog it out on tour and chance your arm that you've got the talent to build up a loyal enough following within an enthusiastic scene to support you doing it fulll time (as in nearly every day, rather than 3 gigs a year at some enormo-dome). That route requires the same transit van and tolerance for questionable personal hygeine that it always did.
New technology makes prior technology obsolete. Deal with it. Stages a)-f) & h) above are all reliant on the tech for their income. Unless they can use current tech, they're knackered. Cos there is always an army of enthusiasts that will be able to, simply for the sake of it. Only those that j) make music that folk want to pay for the privilege of hearing or can g) sprout enjoyable enough chit-chat about j) will stand a chance in the long run.