Universal to sell DRM-free tracks, excludes iTunes | iLounge News


Universal to sell DRM-free tracks, excludes iTunes

Universal Music Group has announced plans to begin selling DRM-free tracks from select artists such as Sting, 50 Cent and Stevie Wonder, for a limited time. The tracks, which are to be available as unrestricted MP3s, will be sold on the artists’ websites and through several online retailers, such as RealNetworks, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and Google. The DRM-free tracks will not be available, however, through iTunes. Some believe that this is a move by Universal to undermine Apple’s overwhelming lead in this market; Universal claims that it is using the iTunes Store as a control group for measuring the impact of DRM-free sales on pricing, piracy and sales. “There’s no doubt these guys are poking a stick at Apple,” said Michael Gartenberg, analyst for Jupiter Research.

Universal Music Chairman and CEO Doug Morris said the test is one of several the company is conducting this year and “will provide valuable insights into the implications of selling our music in an open format.” “Universal Music Group is committed to exploring new ways to expand the availability of our artists’ music online, while offering consumers the most choice in how and where they purchase and enjoy our music,” Morris said. The tracks will be available from Aug. 21 to Jan. 31.

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I’ve gotta agree with Jeff.  I plan on supporting DRM-free music downloads whenever possible- both within iTunes (EMI) and now outside (Universal - if they have any tracks I like at a good bitrate and price).

Posted by dodo on August 10, 2007 at 1:41 PM (CDT)


jeff - Thankyou! Finally someone is making sense. 

Boycott Universal for selling their product through more than one retailer? 
So you should boycott any manufacturer that doesn’t sell through <insert favorite retailer here>? Insanity!

Posted by WhoCares on August 10, 2007 at 1:59 PM (CDT)


How many people know the record companies behind the artists? The first time in my life it mattered even the slightest bit was when the iTunes Music Store first opened, and only 4 out of the 6 major labels were available. The second time it mattered even the slightest bit was when EMI started offering DRM-free music through iTunes. I’ve since forgotten which artists they were.

The average consumer doesn’t buy their music based on the record company. They buy music based on the songs and the artists that they like.

Why do I use iTunes? Because it’s *convenient.* The same reason I often buy milk at a huge markup at the convenience store. I know milk is less expensive at a grocery store, but I don’t feel like doing the extra driving/walking/waiting for that one purchase to save an extra 50 cents or a dollar.

I doubt I’m the average iTunes consumer, but I think I’m closer to the average consumer than a lot of people here. If Universal (or Apple) were to remove Universal’s songs from iTunes, that would be a huge deal. But simply making them available somewhere else slightly cheaper and/or better doesn’t bother me. If I want a song, and it’s available at iTunes for $0.99 or $1.29, I’m going to buy it.

Album purchases are a little different. If you buy a fair number of albums (I don’t), and they can offer a substantial savings compared to Apple’s $10, more people will seek out the cheaper product. But for a $1 song ... it’s not worth the mental effort for most consumers who don’t know which artists belong to which record companies.

Finally, regardless of what happens, Universal will declare this experiment an unqualified success. Meanwhile, I’m willing to bet that iTunes will sell more Universal tracks than the other online stores (selling DRM-free tracks) put together.

Posted by BJ Nemeth on August 10, 2007 at 2:34 PM (CDT)


First of all, I couldn’t possibly care less between DRM and non-DRM. Why? Because all I do is just listen. I don’t share it, I don’t torrent it, I just egt it from iTunes, sync to my iPod, and I’m golden. It’s just music, people.

Posted by Chris on August 10, 2007 at 2:55 PM (CDT)


@Chris, I agree that iTunes-DRM works seamlessly with iPods and iTunes (unlike other DRM schemes out there).  But some of us <gasp!> would like to play our iTunes purchases on devices other than (in addition to) an iPod- such as a dumb phone or a PDA.  I never share or torrent, but I do have many devices capable of playing AAC music files, and not all of them are iPods.

Posted by dodo on August 10, 2007 at 3:53 PM (CDT)


jeff -

I whole-heartedly agree with your points.

I also think Universal wouldn’t be doing this with the motivation of breaking Apple’s hold on the marketplace - not for altruistic reasons, not to benefit the consumer, but to benefit themselves.

As soon as Apple’s hold is broken Universal will support policies that benefit itself at the expense of consumers.  As soon as they’re directing instead of Apple, they will support anti-consumer policies.

Yes, that’s free market, but I, for one, can’t support a free market without a healthy, legislated, pro-consumer counter.

Posted by alexarch in Dallas, TX on August 10, 2007 at 4:02 PM (CDT)


Hahaha, Jeff!  Are you for real?

If Universal had its way, you’d still be paying $16.99/song (you know, that CD you had to buy just to get that one song you like!).

Honestly, its about time someone slapped those labels around.  They’ve been reaming consumers for years.  Remember this little tidbit?


I cannot say I feel one ounce of sorry for the “poor” artists that let themselves get locked into lopsided deals with their labels.  It ain’t Apple’s fault.

And, yes.  I’d much prefer to purchase my music, DRM’d or not, through a service like iTunes that makes the process as smooth and seamless as can be.

The fact is, locking iTunes out of this “test” is nothing more than Universal throwing a hissy-fit over the fact that Apple won’t let them start gouging their customers anew through the iTMS.

Posted by The Raven in USA on August 10, 2007 at 6:05 PM (CDT)


Don’t forget that Universal extorted $1 for every Zune sold from Microsoft.

This Universal CEO has said openly that he wants the same for iPods from Apple.

That is why Universal refused to sign a long-term deal for iTunes.

Universal will try to undermine iTunes unless they get their way, which includes higher song prices in iTunes.

Now if people boycott Universal on iTunes, it may ironically help them, unless this experiment on other stores bombs completely.

Posted by wco81 on August 10, 2007 at 11:45 PM (CDT)


my pc was hardly damaged. with 1500 songs in the itune..i bought a new pc , but cant load the songs in my ipod back ... andy idea if and how can i?

Posted by broshi on August 12, 2007 at 1:51 AM (CDT)


Convenience. The same reason I buy bottled water.

Posted by willyboy on August 13, 2007 at 9:11 PM (CDT)


I also will not be surfing the net in different locations for songs! Like most of you I’m sure will agree- I’m too freaking busy for all of that crap. I will get the song from iTunes for .99 cents OR I will buy the stupid CD online for TEN CENTS. Hey Universal-Ask yourself- which would you prefer?

Posted by Hatman on August 14, 2007 at 12:30 AM (CDT)


One more reason CDs will be around forever.

I only buy/rip CDs:I keep my music library future-proof. I choose the file format. I choose the sample quality. I KEEP MY MUSIC DRM-FREE.

And I don’t have to give a rat’s behind about Universal’s infantile protests.

Posted by The Doctor on August 14, 2007 at 8:24 PM (CDT)

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