At last conference Digital Hollywood, David HUGHES, head of RIAA’s technology division, forecast that DRM will return to protect music. His rationales are simple. He listed 22 ways (or should we say business models) to sell music. Twenty methods require some way to enforce some limitations in consumption, i.e. DRM.
In fact, HUGHES highlighted one characteristics of DRM that is often forgotten. DRM facilitates versioning, i.e., different types of commercialization of the same song. Currently, DRM free songs are sold either as a song, or as a full album. Other ways , for instance as part of a subscription, or pay per listen, may sell this same song at a lower price (but with less freedom of consumption). But, these methods require to limit the consumption to the defined limitations (for instance only once in case of pay per listen). Here comes back DRM.
HUGHES highlighted that DRM should become transparent for consumers. Then, they would not care any more.
Currently, DRM free is the trend in music industry. Four majors sell some songs DRM free. Nevertheless, if they will find new ways to sell songs, HUGHES may be right.