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EMI announces DRM-free, higher quality music on iTunes

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, April 2, 2007
News Categories: iTunes


As anticipated, EMI Music today announced that it plans to make all of its digital music offerings free of anti-piracy restrictions and that iTunes would be the first online store to sell the DRM-free music. EMI also said its downloads will be available in a higher quality format than previously offered.

The new DRM-free premium EMI music will be sold on Apple’s iTunes Store in higher quality 256 kbps AAC format (twice the current bit rate) for a higher price—individual tracks will sell for $1.29. Apple said iTunes will continue to offer 99-cent standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Full albums will only be offered in the premium version. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to “upgrade” their previously purchased EMI tracks to the higher quality DRM-free format for 30 cents a song.

The DRM-free EMI music will be available on iTunes worldwide in May. During a Q&A at EMI’s press conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he expects other major record labels to follow EMI’s lead and sees the iTunes Store offering half of its 5 million song catalog in DRM-free format by the end of the year. Jobs said Apple will “reach out to all the major and independent labels to give them the same opportunity” as EMI.

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If it’s not at least 192Kbps AAC I’m not buying.  Yes, I’d be willing to pay a little more for lossless.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on April 2, 2007 at 5:29 AM (PDT)


It’s 256kbps.

Posted by JoshSpazJosh on April 2, 2007 at 5:57 AM (PDT)


supposed to be 256 AAC…but yay for no DRM & 256 AAC! imho still worth the extra, but lossless at that price point would have been wonderful!!

Posted by yinyang on April 2, 2007 at 5:57 AM (PDT)


List of EMI artists:

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on April 2, 2007 at 6:00 AM (PDT)


I hope it eventually becomes iTunes’ standard and it gets down to 99 cents. I don’t mind paying extra for DRM-free, 256kbps, but $1.29 is an awkward price.

Posted by Jeff Martin on April 2, 2007 at 6:10 AM (PDT)


Damn, I’m going to have to finally buy something from iTunes just to “vote with my wallet” for supporting this move in the right direction.

Lossless would be best, but 256 AAC is transparent on all but high end equipment so it’s hard to fault them. The increased price is, again, not ideal, but whatever gets the music industry to wake up to the concept of keeping the same interoperability that the CD afforded is a good sign.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on April 2, 2007 at 6:31 AM (PDT)


“In addition, iTunes customers will be able to “upgrade” their previously purchased EMI tracks to the higher quality DRM-free format for 30 cents a song”

OK, so how do I do this? I was excpecting to see something like “Complete your EMI song” when I opened iTunes, but there was nothing. Any ideas?

Posted by urbanslaughter on April 2, 2007 at 6:32 AM (PDT)


Well done EMI, it’s about time that one of the major companies got the ball rolling by removing DRM.  I also support the higher bitrate on the new downloads - I just hope people realise that they’ll be able to store less songs on their DAP if they’re saved with a higher bitrate

Posted by Ssco on April 2, 2007 at 6:39 AM (PDT)


urbanslaughter - check your calender - this is April, not May

Posted by WhoCares on April 2, 2007 at 6:49 AM (PDT)


urbanslaughter: 256 Kbps isn’t available until May

Posted by Tommy on April 2, 2007 at 6:50 AM (PDT)


Yeah, when I first read the announcement I thought that when they said, “The DRM-free EMI music will be available on iTunes worldwide in May” they meant it would be available in the iTunes Europe, Australia, Japan, etc. in May. I realize now that they meant it would be available PERIOD beginning in May.

Posted by urbanslaughter on April 2, 2007 at 7:05 AM (PDT)


i would TOTALLY buy songs at 256 kbps, unencoded at a higher price. that addresses both reasons why i haven’t bought anything from iTunes:
- low encoding rates

support this move by EMI and vote with your wallets.

Posted by Toxic Boy on April 2, 2007 at 7:07 AM (PDT)


This is a historic day for the global music industry.

Posted by Ericc B on April 2, 2007 at 7:34 AM (PDT)


I’m not surprised by this move.  A higher bitrate song means more space.  Apple’s banking on the fact that this is going to take off, top off the remaining space on our iPods and WHAMMY a new iPod with a 100GB+ Hard Drive will be released…that’s my thought on this.

Posted by Adam on April 2, 2007 at 7:40 AM (PDT)


99% of the songs in my iTunes were ripped from my own CDs.  They were all ripped at 192 AAC.  That’s the smallest file size where my semi-formal testing and 50-year old ears couldn’t tell the difference compared to the original CD.

I’ve refrained from buying too many songs from Apple due to the low 128kbps encoding.  I will definitely be going back through the 2-dozen or so songs I have and upgrading them to 256kbps for the 30cents each.  Fantastic!  And I will now be more inclined to buy full albums from iTunes.  The albums will be more of a bargain considering we’ll get 256 AAC and the same price point as before!

Posted by Mark on April 2, 2007 at 8:08 AM (PDT)


Does DRM free mean that it will now be possible to move tracks/songs that are purchased from Apple to more than five computers (or however many the limit is)? If not, they are not DRM free.

Posted by zymonk on April 2, 2007 at 8:16 AM (PDT)



Oh, sorry, I’m just counting down before the inevitable response from the RIAA saying how terrible this move is, and how it will increase piracy.

Posted by Nusm on April 2, 2007 at 8:18 AM (PDT)


so does what will the price of the albums be now.  If all the tracks go up in costs because of higher bit rate and drm free music wouldn’t the entire album price go up too?
Not that I wanted it to but if it is I would like to know now and not be surprised.

Posted by 3rdEye on April 2, 2007 at 8:39 AM (PDT)


EMI and Apple have both stated that the price of albums remains the same, but they automatically will be DRM free and higher quality.

So that $9.99 album you buy on iTunes will stay $9.99, even with no DRM and higher bitrates.

They are trying to push for more album sales.

Posted by Chris G. on April 2, 2007 at 9:09 AM (PDT)


I think they also said that EMI mucic videos would be DRM free. You think that means you could burn them to DVD? That would be unprecedented would it not?

Posted by TheBigNewt on April 2, 2007 at 9:17 AM (PDT)

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