What is an honest person to do?

What is an honest media consumer to do in the digital age? I want to pay for my music. I want to pay for the few shows that I want to watch (if I miss them on TV) and can’t find them on a streaming service.

I have two similar situations: 1. I got into Entourage this summer when I watched it on HBO. I really enjoyed it. I want to watch the previous seasons. 2. I want to buy the song “Not an Angel” by City Sleeps. My phone, which doubles as my MP3 player, can’t play DRM protected music (Sprint, a phone named “Muziq” should be able to play DRM protected music!).

I know this statement re-iterates what many have said before but what are the media companies doing? They should make it as easy as possible for me to legitimately find all these files in an easy to consume format. What do they think DRM is doing? Is it stopping people from sharing those files? Maybe those media execs should log into any file sharing service and find out. All DRM does is push honest people to one of two alternatives: a) don’t consume the media and forget about it, b) download it illegally. Neither option is a win for the media company or the artists.

Media company execs, please, for everyone’s sake, stop DRM and put all of your files in a place where one can find them and legally pay.

For those that want to continue reading, here are the details of my trials and tribulations to legally find my media.

1. Entourage: Buying the DVDs is impractical because I would watch the show once and never again (just my watching habits). Renting them from blockbuster is impractical because I wont watch 4-5 episodes in one week before I have to return the DVD. The cheapest netflix account ($5.95) might work but I watch TV so rarely and at such random times that I doubt I will get my money’s worth. So, like any person under a certain age, I searched online for a legitimate source of the file.

iTunes — not available.
HBO — not available.
Netflix download service — not obviously availabe (or available only for PCs)
Amazon Unbox service — not available.
AOL TV — not available.
HULU — not available.
Joost — not available.
P2P service — available.

Point made?

2. Not an Angel MP3 format: As stated above, this file is useless to me in any other format besides MP3. If I just want to listen to it, there are a number of services (such as Napster) that allow me to listen to it online. I don’t want it to just sit on my HD. Before I bought my Mac, I used Napster to download music. The only way I could change my files to MP3s to play on my phone, I had to burn them onto a CD. I did this but it was a hassle, file information was lost (and therefore didnt look correct on my phone), and is impractical to do when I only download one or two songs at a time but want those files on my phone immediately. Note to media execs — I have not shared or plan on sharing one song that I converted to MP3.

I searched online for a legitimate alternate source of the song:
Amazon MP3 — not available (I guess the artist/studio doesnt have a deal with Amazon).
Walmart MP3 — not available — only works with a PC.
Napster — available but protected with DRM.
iTunes — available but protected with DRM and even if it was not, it isn’t in a format that is usable by my phone.
Russian sites — available.
P2P service — available.

Point made?

note to any media execs who want to sue — i have decided on my first option above — not consume the media file and to forget about it. that is a loss for everyone.

Update: check out this great post from Don Dodge about Napster (here).