It is official: EMI is going to offer its library of music on iTunes without DRM. For those who don’t know, DRM is what prevents you from doing whatever you like with your music (ie. using something other than an iPod). DRM stands for Digital Rights Managements. DRM is applied to every file you buy in iTunes, every song you download in Rhapsody, basically it’s everywhere. It’s also crippling your free usage of what you pay for.
After Steve Jobs’ blaming the record industry for DRM saying that he’s all for DRM-free music, but not taking any personal responsibility for the problem, the major record label EMI has published a press release stating that it will be offering higher quality, DRM-free music on the iTunes Music Store. Here is a great summary of the points made today (by Gizmodo):
â€¢EMI approached Apple about DRM free tracks, not the other way around.
â€¢EMI is cool with any other music store doing DRM-free tracks. This is not an iTunes exclusive.
â€¢Those stores can put songs in any format they want. The iTunes premium price and AAC 256 kbps format are Apple’s Marketing decision.
â€¢One underpublicized aspect of this deal is that full albums will cost the same. That means that while LCD Soundsystem’s North American Scum will cost more than a DRM‘d version, the full album, Sound of Silver, that it came from will cost the same either way. Combine that with the ability to upgrade tracks into full albums, and DRM‘d songs into free tracks eases the stinging a bit.
â€¢EMI made this move based on research that showed consumers want DRM-free tracks.
â€¢They’re doing this to get a bigger stake in online music, believing that even though CDs are 90% of their sales, those figures will shrink or stay flat. They’re projecting that online sales should rise to to 25% of their sales by 2010.
â€¢That includes music sales on cellphones. That’s 500-billion capable handsets, worldwide, by end of this year.
â€¢The DRM-free tracks should, they believe improve sales: Even as piracy gets easier, so does the ability to play songs on any MP3 player available. (That is, once some other music store releases EMI tracks on MP3.)
â€¢Although Jobs says, “We expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.”, EMI says the first of the new tracks will be on sale in May.
â€¢EMI won’t disavow RIAA lawsuits, however.