EMI announces DRM-free, higher quality music on iTunes | iLounge News


EMI announces DRM-free, higher quality music on 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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Adam, this was EMI’s doing, not Apple’s. I mean, I HOPE this bodes well for a new 100gb iPod, but I don’t think your logic follows.

Posted by urbanslaughter on April 2, 2007 at 12:17 PM (CDT)


Errr… no. It’s fine that albums stay at the same price for better quality, yet one is still better off with CDs. Call again once it’s 9,99 per *lossless* DRM-free album.

Posted by Bad Beaver on April 2, 2007 at 12:27 PM (CDT)


1) You can upgrade songs for 30 cents each
2) Albums cost the same price ($9.99)

Does this mean that any EMI albums purchased previously can be upgraded for no additional cost????  If so, me likey!

Once again, Apple has provided a very consumer-friendly solution. Would I prefer no price increase? Sure… but given the concerns about piracy and increased quality 30 cents seems like an extremely “fair play” (pun intended).

Posted by Kevin Crossman on April 2, 2007 at 12:55 PM (CDT)


I wonder whether the people clamoring for Lossless have used it to any great extent.  It burns HUGE amounts of hard disk space, gives the 4G ipod all kinds of hiccups, and is indistinguishable from 192 or 256K AAC for most people on most music on most headphones.

Posted by otaku on April 2, 2007 at 1:22 PM (CDT)


I am curious, too, about any limitations on how many PCs a song or album can be placed on.  I don’t stream music in my home, but often work on three or four PCs, and I work with two laptops.  Plus, my wife has a couple of PCs and a laptop.  So, I know DRM was designed to prevent this scenario, and we were always very judicious about where we loaded and copied our purchased music.  I support intellectual property, and always considered ripping off music as hurting the artists more than the record companies, so we don’t have pirated music.  Will there be limitations on devices purchased iTunes music can be loaded to, or is that the whole idea behind DRM-free tunes?  Thanks.

Posted by genius on April 2, 2007 at 1:23 PM (CDT)


Way to go Apple and EMI!  Obviously Jobs meant what he said back in February about wanting to do away with DRM!

I will definitely vote my approval for this move with my wallet.  Good timing that Best Buy has $15 iTunes gift cards on sale this week (buy 3, get 1 free).  I’ll be stopping by for those on my way home from work today for sure.

This is a great move for consumers (not to mention *very* un-Microsoft like).  Thanks again to Apple and EMI for doing the right thing.

Posted by Rob on April 2, 2007 at 1:23 PM (CDT)


Goldfrapp: DRM FREE?
This is the best day ever.

Posted by Goldfrappfan on April 2, 2007 at 1:28 PM (CDT)


This announcement initially got me excited. I’ve had four iPods but haven’t downloaded one song from iTunes. I’m anti-DRM and pro-artist. I’m an emusic subscriber and I fully support downloading music legally.

I love the fact that EMI is going DRM free and the better quality is AWESOME.

However, the pricing STINKS! $1.29 a track!!! No mention of Album pricing? That would be $15.48 for a twelve track album!!!

Ridiculous Pricing!!!

Posted by esacasa on April 2, 2007 at 1:55 PM (CDT)


esacasa, if you read earlier comments, you would know that all albums on iTunes will keep the same price (most are $9.99, although some go as a high as $12.99) while saying DRM free and having higher quality.

Posted by Chris G. on April 2, 2007 at 2:07 PM (CDT)


There will be *no* technical limitation on the number of computers or other devices you can play these files on. That is the very definition of “DRM.”

So yes, you will be able to play these files on your computer, your wife’s computer, your iPod, your Zune, your Zen, and burn as many CDs as you’d like. You could also give the same file to your friends, and they’d be able to play it just as easily. Anything that can play an AAC file can play these new DRM-free songs.

In fact, if you don’t like the idea of 256K files taking up so much space on your iPod, you could easily downsample them directly from iTunes, to 128K or anything else you’d like. You could also change it to a standard MP3 file, if you had another device that isn’t compatible with AAC. (Keep in mind that any change in format or encoding will potentially affect the audio quality.)

That’s not to say that all these scenarios are *legal.* You’ll have to read the end user licensing agreement, which applies regardless of any DRM attached.

I think this is a fantastic move, and I will happily support it by upgrading previously purchased songs for 30¢ each.

Posted by BJ Nemeth on April 2, 2007 at 3:14 PM (CDT)


I like the fact that they’re going to offer a “1-click” upgrading system.  I also applaud the higher quality, although Lossless would’ve been nice.

One thing that I’m having a hard time with is the removal of DRM.  For honest people, that will be NO different from what we have now, except for the 5-computer limit.  I see having NO DRM going bad very quickly.

One thing to keep in mind when you upgrade:  you might want to temporary move or “delete” any of your FREE iTunes downloads, otherwise it might want to upgrade those too . . .

Posted by jhart71 in Detroit, MI on April 2, 2007 at 5:25 PM (CDT)


jhart71—Keep in mind that *most* digital music is already DRM free. CDs, and the MP3 files ripped from them, are everywhere. Removing the DRM from the iTunes Store isn’t going to have much effect on piracy.

Also, the upgrades aren’t automatic. I have downloaded quite a few free songs, and there are one or two that I would pay 30¢ for a DRM-free, higher quality file.

Once you own something, the price you paid is irrelevant. You have a song at 128K with DRM. Do you want it at 256K without DRM? It’ll cost you 30¢.

Whether or not I got the original song free is irrelevant. It’s purely psychological on your part.

Posted by BJ Nemeth on April 2, 2007 at 6:15 PM (CDT)


7 Digital UK are already selling 320 kbps mp3 files of EMI artists.

Posted by Steven Bates on April 2, 2007 at 8:38 PM (CDT)


Contrary to jhart71’s opinion, many people encounter significant issues relating to DRM’d files. For many, the difference will be profound. Not everyone uses their music in a complete Apple universe. For many, stripping the DRM off was a necessary first step after downloading it. Thankfully that step will no longer be needed. The price is an insult, however. These files are now CHEAPER to produce and maintain. The only difference is in bandwidth, which IMHO should be negligible given that they expect more sales.

Posted by mrfett in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 2007 at 9:28 PM (CDT)


I think now big record labels compinies noticed more n more peoples buying DRM free music from non U.S sites(like allofmp3s)or downloading free from p2p sites. So to me it’s right move and it may be good news for WMA based mp3 players(support AAC format)owners. Now they can buy itunes DRM free music. BTW i still like the subscription services(wish itune will offer too).

Posted by SHEHZAD on April 2, 2007 at 10:02 PM (CDT)


With all due respect to EMI’s business model, I don’t see anything here that will leave me clamoring to pay a $1.29 a song when I can get an already DRM-free CD I can load at any bitrate I want on any computer I want as often as I want. I think a 45 was $1.29 in 1977 and you got 2 songs on that! I agree with Lefsetz on his web site. You are not going to convince people to pay CD prices for digital music no matter what the bitrate!

Posted by mr x on April 3, 2007 at 12:37 AM (CDT)


>I think a 45 was $1.29 in 1977 and you got 2 songs on that!

How much did gasoline or your house cost in 1977?

Posted by Kevin Crossman on April 3, 2007 at 12:44 AM (CDT)


otaku, we who like lossless tend to use very little else ;) but I do understand that in a world where people buy heavily compressed low res video to watch on tiny screens there can hardly be much desire for high quality music files over the convenience of stuffing even more files that sound like old tape on fire onto your iPod.

Posted by Bad Beaver on April 3, 2007 at 3:45 AM (CDT)


Yeah I mean I’d love lossless, but I understand why they won’t do it. It just takes up too much space for Small Hard drive or Flash Players. Still if you’re an audiophile you are crying today because this is where the music industry is heading, toward lossy music and compression

Posted by Scarpad on April 3, 2007 at 7:59 AM (CDT)


256k? I’m so there for downloading entire albums and nixing buying the plastic-space CDs. As well, I’m happy to pay for the upgrade for my current iTunes library (singles numbering in the hundreds). This is entirely welcome, and I’ll do my part to make it entirely successful.

Posted by Robin Micheal on April 4, 2007 at 3:01 AM (CDT)

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