EMI Loses DRM, Gains $.30

By JoCo April 2, 2007

Looks like EMI’s made a deal with iTunes to sell higher quality, DRM-free songs for $1.29, and possibly offer $.30 song upgrades. (Someone on Twitter just told me they’re going to be 256 AAC files, but I haven’t confirmed that anywhere else. But Twitter can’t be wrong, right?)

It’s nice to see a label taking a step like this, and it makes me hopeful that maybe people are starting to see the folly of DRM. But I have to say: $1.29? For something that’s not even full quality? Now is not the time to be raising prices for digital downloads you dummies. But you know, good for them I guess – it’s kind of like watching a baby eat with a spoon for the first time – even though they’re doing it totally wrong and making a terrible mess of things, it’s cute to watch them trying.

Also, it sure would be nice if iTunes would sell DRM-free music on behalf of me and the countless other independent musicians who figured this out a while ago.


Colleenky says

I just heard about this on NPR. Apparently, the deal still does not include the Beatles' catalog.

Mythgarr says

256-bit AAC is about as close to 'full quality' as you're going to get... There are very few truly lossless compression codecs for sound.

There's also the fact that $1.29 now gets credited toward the purchase of the entire album, which will cost the same, but with no DRM and higher quality. That's one small check for a man, one giant leap for the music industry. My favorite line was the kind of 'Eureka' moment they seemed to have:

"Q: Is this a green light for piracy? Eric: no, we take the view that we have to "trust consumers. Some will disappoint us. The idea is to give them the best music experience to grow sales and not diminish them."

McManna says

Here is info from Apple confirming 256 AAC.

JoCo says

Roger that, I didn't even bother to look for confirmation because I am lazy. 256 AAC is certainly pretty good - I barely notice the difference when I'm listening to 192 mp3s. It just bugs me: holding back just a little quality, asking for just a little more money, calling it "premium" when it's really just giving us back something that was taken away.

Pete says

The most well-known lossless audio codec is FLAC, which tends to yield file sizes of the order of 20 MB for an average three-minute pop song. I don't think that iPods currently support FLAC though (unless you install Linux on it).

256 AAC is very reasonable indeed, and I can't see that anything higher quality would be worth the additional bandwidth drain.

I look forward to a day when DRM is ancient history.

Bassguy says

Just a quick note: iTunes and iPods do support Apple's own Lossless Codec.


Kerrin says

Well, it's a step in the right direction. The world becomes just a little bit closer to utopia.

Randal C. says

Now that it's possible, I can't think of any reason that Apple wouldn't offer the same or a similar deal to independent artists. If the rest of the major labels jump on board, that would leave independent artists as the only folks saddled with DRM, that they (mostly) didn't want in the first place.

John says

"Also, it sure would be nice if iTunes would sell DRM-free music on behalf of me and the countless other independent musicians who figured this out a while ago."

This is interesting. So independent artists cannot approach Apple to sell their music DRM free on iTunes? What is their reasoning? I do not know much about this but I would think if Steve is really so interested in DRM-free music, he would allow a grass roots effort to build through releasing DRM-free tracks from independents?

Vern says


TuneCore doesn't mention anything about DRM in their FAQ but I'd imagine that any independant music put on iTunes at $0.99 will contain DRM. Anyone know for sure?