Back at CES 2008 Napster announced plans to make their entire catalogue DRM free. Today it joins stores like Amazon and Zune who also offer a part of their library DRM free. The downloads will remain at the same price as before (99 cents per track and $9.99 per album) and will be offered in 256kbps MP3 with high resolution (1,000 x 1,000 pixel) album art. By contrast Zune Marketplace and Amazon offer 320kbps MP3s.
There is one part of this story that is really aggravating in that people who have purchased previously ala carte downloads that were DRMed will not be able to trade for unprotected versions of the music they paid for. Don’t blame Napster, this decision made by the record labels showing us one again they don’t care about their customer base. Once again the DRM customer is screwed. Please vote with your dollars and never purchase DRM content since its expatriation is inevitable.
[CNet | Napster PR]
Amazon.com announced today that it is gearing up to launch an online music download store filled exclusively with DRM-free MP3s later this year. Reported to offer millions of songs from 12,000 record labels, EMI included, the as-yet-unnamed store will allow customers to play purchased songs (individual tracks and full albums) on absolutely any DAP or other MP3-supporting device as well as burn the songs to CDs.
The bitrate and prices of the music Amazon will be serving up have not been disclosed, but if the company is looking to slice into the Apple pie, both had better be good. What do you think: at least 192kbps at a max price of 99 cents apiece?
[News Release | Yahoo! News]
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)]
Here is another CEO telling it like it is. I am a big fan of this guy and his forward thinking. Robertson founded MP3.com, MP3Tunes, and Linspire, so he is no stranger to digital distribution. In his open letter to Jobs, he makes some really good suggestions that would open up iTunes and the iPod to other hardware and other software / music services. He also suggests selling songs in MP3 format, ensuring compatibility with all digital audio players. Last, Robertson suggests releasing a version of iTunes for Linux and even offers to engineer to the platform for free.
Now Michael, get back to your roots and do something to give the digital audio industry a shake-up once again, like with MP3.com. Check out the full letter; it is worth the read.
[Letter to Jobs]
Mr. Benefactor makes an amazing point about RIAA’s war on illegal file sharing in his blog. Mark Cuban points out that with the introduction of Yahoo!’s Unlimited music service, they have essentially capped the market value of music thus limiting the amount that RIAA ought to be able to claim as damages to $5 per month when they sue kids.
“The RIAA can no longer claim that students who are downloading music are costing them thousands of dollars each. They can’t claim much of anything actually. In essence, Yahoo just turned possession of a controlled music substance into a misdemeanor. Payable by a $5 per month fine.”
So what if you could just pay that $5 per month for the rest of your life all at once? You could essentially be immune from all lawsuits and download anything and everything for one lump sum payment…