In a move that sent waves through the tech and music industries, EMI announced today that they will be releasing millions of tracks digitally, without Digital Rights Management. “April 2, 2007: The day DRM died.”
DRM, the stuff that prevents you from copying music you own (strange, huh?) is the scourge of many listeners worldwide. EMI recognized this early – they were one of the few major labels who demoed DRM free tracks. The success, combined with pressure from Apple made this the perfect opportunity to jump the DRM ship.
The DRM free tracks, which will be available in May, will be sold at a higher quality (existing tracks are 128kbps, they will be upgraded to 256kbps) for an additional $0.30 ($1.29). Music retailers will have a choice between WMA, MP3, and AAC. Apple, who played a heavy role in today’s announcement, will be choosing AAC (their proprietary format). DRM-locked tracks will still be available for $0.99, and will be at the current 128kbps quality.
Another issue addressed is The Beatles’ move to digital distribution via iTunes. It appears that this will be happening in the future (in fact, Steve Jobs teased the keynote audience at the announcement of the iPhone, using the famous “Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover in a slide). EMI head Eric Nicoli told reporters that they were still “working on it.”
DRM will still be used for subscription services, sharing services, and time-limited downloads, unsurprisingly. These services rely on DRM for their basic foundation. As much as I hate DRM, with this type of service it is fairly clear with services such as these why DRM is needed (for the most part, I have some arguments, but… let’s not get into that).