Nine times out of ten, digital rights management (DRM) is a pain in the ass. I'd love to see the record companies and digital music retailers change that. Instead of restricting how I can use something I've purchased, why don't you use DRM for something I haven't yet bought?

Imagine being able to download an entire album but only being able to listen to it five times. After you've reached the limit, the song won't play until you purchase a key to unlock the songs. You could also do a pre-release of the album and let people listen to the album once through and then shut it off. If they purchase the album, it automatically unlocks on the day of release. Streaming on a site like Myspace might make more sense, but this could sell more albums as people would have zero wait-time when the album was released; it'd already be downloaded.

The labels could also offer special deals. If you purchase the new Greenhornes EP alongside the new White Stripes album, you unlock a special White Stripes track. First, you'll have rabid White Stripes fans who need that song, but you'll also get people who were curious about the Greenhornes who like a good deal.

Based on the labels' current behavior, this is all wishful thinking. I'm sure some mid-sized label with a few well-known acts will learn to embrace the technology and make a killing. I'm just hoping it happens soon.