Bye bye DRM

by Giles Turnbull

It's the beginning of the end of DRM. Apple will soon start selling DRM-free music from the EMI back catalogue -- but you'll have to pay a little more for it.



According to the BBC:




The higher price will apply only to single tracks that customers download. On iTunes EMI tracks free of digital rights management (DRM) software will cost $1.29 (99p). Itunes users will be able to upgrade previously purchased EMI songs and albums for 30 cents (15p) a track. Fans will be able to buy "premium" tracks in a variety of bit rates will be of better quality than existing downloads varying qualities up to CD-twice the sound quality of currently available EMI tracks.


Quick prediction: the rest of the music industry will be falling into line faster than you can say "Abbey Road was better than Let It Be."



More comment and analysis on this coming later...



14 Comments

Steven
2007-04-02 07:19:19
This is great, we will be glad to see the back of DRM.
Eric
2007-04-02 07:40:48
It's also cool that we'll get better quality music now!
Frank
2007-04-02 08:15:40
This is great news on both fronts (minus DRM and better quality). Now, if Apple would just add an easy way to re-download your music so you don't have to worry about backing it up I would buy ALL of my music from iTunes.


Frank

Zac
2007-04-02 08:21:40
The only downside to the announcement is the $1.29 price tag. I bet the labels will see this as a way to finally get Apple to relinquish that $.99 deadlock.


But the good news is in vast supply:
- no DRM!
- higher bit rate!
- albums are the same price (how I buy all my music anyway)
- music videos are the same price
- Apple expects half the catalogue to be DRM free by the end of 2007

Chris Adamson
2007-04-02 08:49:53

So who wants to be the first to put an EMI DRM-free song on his or her web page for download, only to discover that "no DRM" doesn't mean "no watermarking"? I'll bet your iTunes id is stored seventeen ways from Sunday in these files, and personally, I think that's just fine.

I certainly hope this means the Mac will let me use my DRM-free songs in any way I please, such as using them for the soundtrack of an iMovie. Guess we'll have to see if DRM-free AAC means that they'll be in a normal m4a (or mp4) container that other apps can read... kind of the point of interoperability that they can do that, right? Right?)

Chris Adamson
2007-04-02 08:55:55
Also, some of the indies have said they want to be DRM-free on iTunes... think we'll see them go DRM-free and high-bitrate at the same time?

2007-04-02 09:53:33
BTW, you've always been able to use DRM'd music as the soundtrack in "movies" encoded with iMovie or FinalCut. Check before speaking.
Chris Adamson
2007-04-02 10:13:18

BTW, you've always been able to use DRM'd music as the soundtrack in "movies" encoded with iMovie or FinalCut. Check before speaking.

Check your facts, anonymous. While this does work in iMovie, if you try to drop an .m4p onto the timeline of other Apple media apps, Soundtrack refuses the drop, Final Cut Express HD produces an audio track that just beeps once a second, and GarageBand produces the following error dialog:

no-drm-itunes-into-garage-band.png

Mike
2007-04-02 10:30:57
"Also, some of the indies have said they want to be DRM-free on iTunes... think we'll see them go DRM-free and high-bitrate at the same time?"


Yes, I do. Steve Jobs said he'd be "reaching out" with the same offer to other major and independent labels. You can listen here:


http://www.trolano.com/EMI_Pressconference/


There'll only be two basic deals, because he doesn't want to complicate matters. He also says you'll be able to set some preference, so that if you prefer the new deal, whenever that's available you'll only be offered that at the point of purchase, so that the process is made simpler again.

pauldwaite
2007-04-02 15:21:33
Ooh, AAC. Will that play on the Zune? Or any popular MP3 player?
Unseelie
2007-04-02 17:11:32
Wait did you say Zune and popular at the same time? I didn't think so. Yes, AAC in fact plays on the most popular MP3 player on the market... wait for it, the iPod. I believe Sansa also supports AAC. For the record, AAC is a Dolby licensed format, and anyone could support AAC if they want to license it.
M. David Peterson
2007-04-02 19:00:56
@Unseelie,


> Wait did you say Zune and popular at the same time?


Grow up.


@Everyone else,


It's DRM-free. You can convert it to work on *ANY* other player.


2007-04-02 22:51:21
@Zac who said: "The only downside to the announcement is the $1.29 price tag. I bet the labels will see this as a way to finally get Apple to relinquish that $.99 deadlock."


It is pretty lame to complain about $1.29 song. I was paying up to $1.99 for a 45 back in 1987 so $1.29 for a DRM-free track is downright cheap in 2007. The .99 was about right when you had limitations to the song but now that they have lifted them I feel they are right to charge a little more. Now, if they want to add another .10 to the price and allow me to re-download any time, I'll pitch in for that as well.

Mike
2007-04-03 01:36:45
Yes, it'll play on the Zune, which supports AAC.


MS I'm sure would rather not have supported the open MPEG standards, of which AAC is a part. They'd really like everyone to be using their own proprietary wma format. But they now darn well that a lot of people have ripped their CDs in iTunes, which defaults to that for ripping, and aren't about to ditch their existing music collections.


No, it won't play on most popular players--besides the iPod. But we will, presumably, see some other makers updating their firmware, which they really ought to have done before now.