Monday, April 02, 2007

This just in: EMI agree to drop DRM - for a price

The announcement that iTunes is to sell EMI tracks without any DRM has been trailed quite heavily through the morning; it's just been confirmed.

On first glance, the detail is interesting - the DRM versions will still be available at 79p; the unlocked (and superior quality) recordings will cost 99p. In other words, EMI is making some extra cash in return for providing us with a right they shouldn't really have been withholding in the first place.

The other notable thing is that, by creating a two-tier pricing structure, Apple have effectively abandoned the "all one price" model: maybe the carrot for the other labels will be offering additional price levels for, say, 'new releases'?

The announcement, then:

EMI has become the first major record label to ditch digital rights management and start selling music online in CD quality and without copy protection.
In a deal struck with Apple’s iTunes Music Store, announced in London this lunchtime - at a press conference which included a performance from The Good, The Bad & The Queen - EMI said it is making available "superior quality audio" across its entire digital catalogue.
The DRM-free tracks would be available first through iTunes but will subsequently be rolled out across other retail services.
As EMI became the first major label to embrace Jobs’ vision, Jobs today said, "Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry. EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free."

EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli said the deal represented "a major step in our quest to provide consumers with the best possible digital music experience".

He added, "Our goal is to give consumers the best possible digital music experience. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music.

"Apple have been a true pioneer in digital music, and we are delighted that they share our vision of an interoperable market that provides consumers with greater choice, quality, convenience and value for money."

The tracks will be available for 99p in the UK, with tracks at the existing quality available for 79p. Consumers will be able to buy entire superior quality albums at the standard AAC price, and upgrade to superior qualitt tracks for 20p per track.


Unknown said...

At a pound a track, isn't it going to make it more expensive to buy an album online than on a CD? That seems bizarre for a product with no physical media.

Anonymous said...

I think file quality is becoming more important now that we are getting over the novelty of being able to snag almost any record ever made. I would have thought ultra cheapo no-DRM low low quality (i.e. below 128k) would be more attractive to labels - as these would be likely to end up flooding p2p, making reasonable quality (i.e. above 256k) much easier to buy than dl (to anyone with a job at least).

Anonymous said...

Howard, there's an interesting little kink in the deal whereby IF you buy the whole album, you get the non-DRM, 256k premium version for the same price as the crappy 128k DRM'd version. An incentive to buy complete albums - who ever heard of such a thing?

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