Would you like DRM with that?

Here is an article from the newest contributor to MyAppleStuff, Mark Howson

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Photo Credit: dsearls

Cars, hamburgers, domain names. They all do it, but the newest darling of the upsell industry was announced Monday by Steve Jobs during an EMI Music Event. That’s right, iTunes would like to welcome you to the upsell. No, not the social, the upsell, really.

Starting May, iTunes will release to all territories the entire EMI music catalogue in a DRM free format. Here’s the catch. It’s 30 cents more. But, it does come with a few perks. Like twice the quality of your regular download, and the ability to use the music with:

  • Infinite computers
  • Infinite iPods
  • Other MP3 Players
  • Your phone
  • Infinite stereo systems
  • As backing music for a school project or presentation

Basically, everything you’ve been able to do with CDs forever. But, at twice the quality of a regular download, as pink shirt EMI guy would want to remind you.

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Oh, and yep. The songs are no longer tied to the iPod. But because the iPod is such a large part of our culture and marketplace, and people already just rip CDs anyway, the chance of this effecting Apple’s iPod sales is minimal. In fact, being the first company to offer DRM free music, sales might even increase!

EMI are even doing the decent thing, and letting people pay the difference to ‘upgrade’ songs already downloaded.

Hopefully, as with Complete my Album, another new iTunes feature letting people finish off albums at a reduced rate, they’ll be a grace period for people who already have DRM’d music. With Complete My Album, Apple are offering consumers 3 months to complete any albums bought in the past. Which is cool, and also kinda creepy that they keep logs that far back in time.

It gets better, there’s no price increase at all for albums. Your $9.99 album purchase will be DRM free from the start, and will have that higher quality too. This is a great incentive to buy albums, if you do the maths:


15x DRM Songs @ $0.99 = $14.85
Album = $9.99


15x None DRM songs @ $1.29 = $19.35
Album = $9.99

Apple are providing some real phenomenal discounting. That’s all from me, below are Apple and EMI’s press releases, ushering in a new, DRM free age


Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on the iTunes Store
DRM-Free Songs from EMI Available on iTunes for $1.29 in May

CUPERTINO, California—April 2, 2007—Apple® today announced that EMI Music’s entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from the iTunes® Store (www.itunes.com) worldwide in May. DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording, for just $1.29 per song. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song. iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today—128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM—at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside DRM-free higher quality versions when available.

“We are going to give iTunes customers a choice—the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more,�? said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year.�?

“EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favorite artists,�? said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group.

With DRM-free music from the EMI catalog, iTunes customers will have the ability to download tracks from their favorite EMI artists without any usage restrictions that limit the types of devices or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on. DRM-free songs purchased from the iTunes Store will be encoded in AAC at 256 kbps, twice the current bit rate of 128 kbps, and will play on all iPods, Mac® or Windows computers, Apple TVs and soon iPhones, as well as many other digital music players.

iTunes will also offer customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free format for 30 cents a song. All EMI music videos will also be available in DRM-free format with no change in price.

The iTunes Store features the world’s largest catalog with over five million songs, 350 television shows and over 400 movies. The iTunes Store has sold over two billion songs, 50 million TV shows and over 1.3 million movies, making it the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store.

With Apple’s legendary ease of use, pioneering features such as integrated podcasting support, iMix playlist sharing, seamless integration with iPod® and the ability to turn previously purchased songs into completed albums at a reduced price, the iTunes Store is the best way for PC and Mac users to legally discover, purchase and download music and video online.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and will enter the mobile phone market this year with its revolutionary iPhone.


EMI Music launches DRM-free superior sound quality downloads across its entire digital repertoire

Apple’s iTunes store to be the first online music store to sell EMI’s new downloads

London, 2 April 2007 — EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI’s existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available. From today, EMI’s retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality. EMI is releasing the premium downloads in response to consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players. EMI’s new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms.

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said, “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.”

“Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “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.”

Apple’s iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) is the first online music store to receive EMI’s new premium downloads. Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price. Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

EMI is introducing a new wholesale price for premium single track downloads, while maintaining the existing wholesale price for complete albums. EMI expects that consumers will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free downloads from a variety of digital music stores within the coming weeks, with each retailer choosing whether to sell downloads in AAC, WMA, MP3 or other unprotected formats of their choice. Music fans will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free digital music for personal use, and listen to it on a wide range of digital music players and music-enabled phones.

EMI’s move follows a series of experiments it conducted recently. Norah Jones’s “Thinking About You”, Relient K’s “Must’ve Done Something Right”, and Lily Allen’s “Littlest Things” were all made available for sale in the MP3 format in trials held at the end of last year.

EMI Music will continue to employ DRM as appropriate to enable innovative digital models such as subscription services (where users pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to music), super-distribution (allowing fans to share music with their friends) and time-limited downloads (such as those offered by ad-supported services).

Nicoli added: “Protecting the intellectual property of EMI and our artists is as important as ever, and we will continue to work to fight piracy in all its forms and to educate consumers. We believe that fans will be excited by the flexibility that DRM-free formats provide, and will see this as an incentive to purchase more of our artists’ music.”

2 thoughts on “Would you like DRM with that?

  1. Mac Sokulski

    Finally someone is thinking. On the other hand, I would wager that most people don’t know what DRM is. Yes it’s been all over the tech news, being a sore point for all the techies out there. But take Joe Shmoe of the street. He just got an iPod for Christmas. He’s got an older PC, that he does his simple checkbook/expense on it, answers a couple of emails, finds out what’s playing at a local movie theater, and that’s it. Does he care about DRM… not in a least. He installed iTunes, found out that he can buy music cheaply (cheaper than the local music store). He can burn CDs from the music he bought from iTunes, so he can listen in his car, and he is happy. From what I have seen, there are a lot of people like that out there. As long as they can listen to their music where ever they want when ever they want, all is fine.
    In my opinion Apple’s version of DRM is the least restrictive of them all. You can listen to the bought music on upto 5 computers and unlimited number of ipods. Besides me, who has more than 5 computers at home? So yes DRM free music with a higher bit rate is very welcome, but is that going to change the outlook of general population on the whole drm issue? I don’t think so.

  2. Mark Howson

    Exactly. Steve Jobs was saying the same thing. Most users never hit the limits. Either way, the quality really is going to boost sales.

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