DRM-free reaction: Press, analysts, competitors and bloggers

Below are several quotes we’ve rounded up following Apple and EMI’s announcement of DRM-free music on the iTunes Store. You can read opinions from iLounge editors, and leave your own, here.

“What today’s news does make clear is that our future may soon be free from the onerous rules that treated digital music as if it were the industry’s thieving stepchild. In my view, that’s even better that being able to download Sgt. Pepper on demand.”—Steven Levy, Newsweek

“Only Jobs has the power and the cojones to make such a move. Only Jobs could so boldly rip down the system he had previously built—the iTunes music store, which is the most-successful online store (perhaps the only one), which was built on copy-protected music, and force the music industry to follow suit.”—Leander Kahney, Wired

“Consumers have indicated [having DRM-free music] is important to them so Zune has been working with a variety of partners to head in this direction. This is a time of transition for the music industry and Microsoft is committed to striking a balance between delivering the best consumer experience while still protecting the rights of the content owners.”—Microsoft spokesperson

“So much for accusations that Jobs was full of sh*t with his ‘Thoughts on Music’ essay. Clearly, Apple is willing to embrace DRM-free music sales, and they’re not going to wait for all of the major labels to agree before going forward with it.”—John Gruber, Daring Fireball

“This is a great PR win for Apple and Steve Jobs. Apple was seen as the company delivering DRM free music to consumers, a move that will only increase their overall mindshare and of course, mindshare has a funny way of becoming more marketshare. It also goes a long way to address regulators in Europe complaining about the iPod’s lack of interoperability.”—Michael Gartenberg, Jupiter Research

“F*cking brilliant.”—Damon Albarn, frontman of Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad, and The Queen

“If you’re a major that doesn’t have DRM-free music, you look pretty challenged. This will put pressure on the other majors. Hopefully many other [online] retailers, including ourselves, will get licensed over time.”—David Pakman, CEO of eMusic

“This appears to be the final acknowledgment on the record companies’ part that the guiding principles of their digital distribution strategies have been fundamentally flawed.”—Ken Hertz, music industry lawyer

“So we say go out there and buy DRM-free music from iTunes. Is it perfect? No. It could be Lossless and it could be the same price as DRM’d tunes, and we sure would like to see those lawsuits stop. But this is a monumental step, and if it’s successful we’ll certainly see other major labels following suit by releasing their catalogs without DRM. If the demand is there, the supply will arrive in due time.”—Adam Frucci, Gizmodo

“This moves us closer than ever to the day when consumers will be able to buy their favorite music via Rhapsody and enjoy it on their iPod or any other music-playing device. We look forward to working with EMI and the rest of the music industry to bring DRM-free, interoperable music to consumers in the months ahead.”—Rob Glaser, CEO of RealNetworks

“Since you’re not lifting your DRM on everything, you’ll have a mixed library, which will also be a challenge. It’s a first step in a very long process.”—Shannon Cross, Soleil Cross Research

“I could not be happier right now. I really hope Apple decides to make a web-based version of the iTunes store so that I can buy iTunes tracks in the future using Ubuntu Linux.”—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“Short term, there will be a perception that this may also have a negative impact on iPod sales, as consumers can now play EMI’s iTunes downloads on any digital music player. It is important to note that non-iPod MP3 players will not sync with iTunes the same way iPods do. Our belief is the success of the iPod is not because consumers are locked on the iTunes platform, but its success has been because of the total device and iTunes experience.”—Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray

“It’s problematic. EMI haven’t tested it enough, so they don’t know what the market reaction is going to be. The issues are will (unprotected) MP3s help expand the market, and how will it affect piracy? We just don’t know.”—Unnamed music executive

“This is a true earthquake. I can imagine that some executives at other record labels have had to change their underwear today. As Jobs said, there are leaders and there are followers, and EMI has clearly staked out first place in this new market. And Apple, as often, has been the prime mover in this change.”—Kirk McElhearn, Kirkville

“I think it’s very clever for EMI to bundle copyability with higher quality: the latter may hold far more appeal for consumers. And let’s face it, selling upgraded versions of media products to old customers is a well-established part of the entertainment business.”—Brian Chin, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Microsoft is a master deal maker. No company partners like Microsoft. It’s disturbing to see those ‘edgy thinkers’ doing so much thinking and not taking enough action. Microsoft should have been one step ahead of Apple, with a DRM-free catalog of EMI music in Windows Media Audio. More music players, devices and PC software support WMA than AAC.”— Joe Wilcox, Microsoft Watch

“The Consumer Electronics Association applauds Apple and EMI Music for recognizing what consumers really want out of their digital music experience—high resolution recordings worthy of both home and on-the-go listening, along with the freedom to move music among devices. This is the future of digital entertainment.”—Gary Shapiro, CEA President and CEO

“DRM is an embedded feature of the subscription services and they can’t run their business without it. Now they are stuck with it for the bulk of their services and the disadvantages of DRM are going to plague them.”—Phil Leigh, Inside Digital Media

“Is Apple simply fashioning its own hangman’s noose? If the other major record companies follow suit, the one big advantage of the entire Apple “digital ecosystem”—iTunes, the iPod, and Apple TV—essentially becomes null and void. Jobs says Apple’s superior design will keep the company’s software and hardware at the top of the must-have list for digital media. For the iPod, maybe—but for the just-launched Apple TV, the answer isn’t as straightforward.”—John Falcone, Crave

“This is a very big victory. We wanted the businesses [Apple and music companies] to take this seriously, and they have.—Torgeir Waterhouse, Consumer Council of Norway

Latest News