EMI to Offer DRM-Free Digital Music

emi logo EMI to Offer DRM Free Digital Music

It’s no secret that consumers aren’t the only ones who detest digital rights management (DRM). No one likes to be told what they can and cannot do with music they’ve legally purchased and downloaded. And today, record label EMI (one of the “big four”) announced that it will soon be doing something about it.

Well, sort of. Beginning in May, EMI will be serving up its entire digital catalog completely unshackled and in higher quality. First to receive the new offering will be (surprise!) the Apple iTunes Store, who will sell its patrons DRM-free 256kbps AAC tracks for $1.29 apiece alongside DRM-full 128kbps tunes (also in AAC) for the standard $0.99 price. The price of full EMI albums and music videos will not change, even though they will available sans DRM, and consumers can “upgrade” (i.e., remove the DRM from) already purchased songs for a fee of $0.30/each.

Although this is certainly a step in the right direction (and Microsoft may be next to follow suit), forgive us for being less than thrilled over the upcoming availability of more expensive music encoded in a format that few players actually support.

[Press Release (Apple) | Press Release (EMI)]


Utew on April 3, 2007 9:06 AM

Let’s see… DRM keeps our customers from using the music they legally purchased on their different devices..I know! …lets charge them more to be able to do what they thought they could in the first place.. That’s it! Now we can make even MORE money off them…I’m a bit amazed how many have fallen for this parlor trick… sigh….

ChuckSplatt on April 3, 2007 8:30 PM

While a valid point, you would have to be purposefully be pessimistic to be sour about this move because of this point. The fact that this is happening at all is pretty substantial. Also, if unprotected AACs become prevelant enough (and this IS iTunes we’re talking about) then more major DAPs will put in an effort to support it.This is a victory. We have a ways to go before we get the ideal situation (all major labels support DRM free for a reasonable price), but let’s not be ungrateful. If they receive an overwhelmingly positive response from this, other labels will be tempted to follow.

Utew on April 3, 2007 11:38 PM

Ungrateful? You must be kidding… charging us more for non-DRM infected files is doing us no favors.DRM will fail on it’s own merits.. and has never been about protecting copyright holders.. its about making more money and EMI/Apple have just illuminated that little fact of life.Actually I am not pessimistic at all, quite the opposite.. as this move is face saving (for Big Music) and more shall surely follow.. it’s a very small step, but none-the-less a step.However there are quite obviously many that are fooled into thinking that EMI/Apple are doing them favors by charging them more for something that should never have been implemented to begin with… yet for some this Jedi Mind Trick has worked perfectly.

Kurt Langland on April 4, 2007 1:06 PM

Yes, non-DRM cost more but it is also at a higher quality and if you notice the downloads of EMI albums remains at $9.99 and at the higher download rate.

Michael2k on April 5, 2007 3:40 PM

“music encoded in a format that few players actually support.”Why not blame manufacturers for not supporting the next generation MP3 format? AAC has been spec since 1997, and the iPod has only been using it since 2003.

ChuckSplatt on April 6, 2007 10:29 AM

That’s true as well. It’s not a rip off at all when you consider the quality of the files is also “twice” as much, although Rhapsody has been offering 192kbps AAC (with DRM) for some time now for 99 cents…

HaRDCoRE454 on April 10, 2007 9:42 PM

Actually, when you think about it, this is not the worst thing in the world. I find AAC/192 to be virtually indistinguishable from source. Transcoding AAC/192 to WMA-VBR/90 or LAME-MP3/V2 has been acceptable, at least to my ears. So, I don’t anticipate it being a big loss to transcode AAC/256 to something like WMA-VBR/90 which I can use on my Vision:M. I like this. Hopefully, they’ll offer this via some other method than iTunes, though. I really don’t feel like installing iTunes on my PC.

english on April 14, 2007 5:56 AM

I hate digital music downloads I general. I prefer good old cd’s.They are solid and you can rip em to any computer, you can play em anywhere there is a cd player, and they dont have DRM, and they have a cover you can read through

Michael2k on April 17, 2007 7:45 PM

english:Were it not for the fact that sometimes I only want a single and not a whole album… $1.29 is a heck of a lot cheaper than a used $8 CD or new $18 CD.

&#1087 on August 29, 2007 8:19 PM

Good site. Thank you:-)

&#1087 on August 29, 2007 8:19 PM

Good site. Thank you:-)

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