DRM Free Music

So I am guessing that when State Jobs posted his open letter on digital rights management two months ago he was well on his way to getting exactly what he wanted. With Apple and EMI’s announcement of selling their entire catalogue on the iTunes Store without DRM it appears as though someone was listening. To say it out loud from the get go — DRM Free music is the right thing to do. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see at least one label getting it. I buy the stuff and I don’t need to be treated like a criminal from the start. I don’t steal music and I certainly don’t provide access to my hard drive for others to take my music. I posted my thoughts on it at the time so I won’t rehash it all.

Here’s the rub in my mind however … by charging a premium for the music I feel like they are saying something to the effect of, only those who can afford the right to purchase this will be treated like a law abiding citizen. In other words, if you can’t fork over an extra 30 cents then you aren’t to be trusted with our music. I understand the higher quality, but I don’t see that as a legitimate claim — data is data. Also it bothers just a bit to have to go back and pay an additional 30 cents for every song I already own to be unlocked. I guess the label figures that is enough of a sharing tax? I just don’t get this.

Another thought after the original post … I do recall reading that the labels had been putting pressure on Apple to raise their prices on singles. Was this the deal Steve was able to make — if I raise the price of a single can we sell higher quality, DRM Free music? If you look at it, from what I understand album prices are remaining the same. Just pure speculation.

How does this deal make the rest of you feel? Will you go back and repurchase your tracks to be DRM Free? Am I barking up the wrong tree on this one?

8 thoughts on “DRM Free Music

  1. Higher bit-rate means fewer songs per iPod, means higher sales of larger iPods…

    I’m not sure what EMI music I’ve bought through iTMS, but I’m undecided if I’ll upgrade any of the tracks. Anything new, I’ll spring for the I Am Not A Thief tax.

  2. As far as I understand it, the 128K AACs with DRM will still be offerred. Also, this takes the steam out of the recording industry’s ‘demands’ that Apple change their pricing scheme – now users are getting more for their money instead of just higher prices.

    Also, it appears that EMI will be pushing for no DRM for all its online purchases, not just those from iTunes. The represents a major change for the industry and is going to make many companies rethink their business model.

    I don’t buy a lot from iTunes, so the price is not a big deal, but at least things are starting to change…


  3. Eric … I agree this is a great move! Finally it appears as though someone in the industry is getting it. I still feel a little strange about the notion that I have to upgrade parts of my library for DRM free tracks. I buy all my music from iTunes — probably thousands of dollars worth of it over the last couple of years. I wonder if they’ll let me know which tracks are EMI so I can upgrade if I choose to.

    They are selling both the old and new style, so that choice is good. I still can’t help but look at it through the digital divide eyes a bit though. But all in all this is a very good first step. Leave it to Steve to pull it off.

  4. I hate to bring that whole “business world” thing to this, but the question isn’t “How much harder is it to provide 256 vs. 128? Is it 30 cents more work?” but rather really your first question “is that worth the extra 30 cents?”

    Price and cost are not related concepts, other than we would be a fool to price something at “less than cost.”

    Price is simply determined by what the customer is willing to pay for the product. Apparently Apple has determined that enough people are willing to pay 30 cents more for DRM free music that also is 256 bit.

    It’s kinda like my rant over at my blog about the pricing of the iPhone. Yeah–I think it is over priced. But then, I forgot about all those people who would pay anything to have an Apple designed phone.

  5. Steve … I agree completely. Apple (and the labels) are going to do whatever they feel the market will handle. Clearly my original position was one based on a visceral reaction to the up-charging and re-charging for DRM Free music. It is a great thing and I am thrilled someone is finally drawing the line in the sand. You raise an interesting question though — will we all pay? At this point, I know I won’t upgrade my tracks, but will I pay the higher price for new music I purchase. No idea yet.

    But I will get an iPhone 😉

  6. It’s great that iTunes can now be an outlet for DRM-free music. I’m really excited to hear this. I don’t purchase many sons through iTunes, but for me it’s worth the extra 30 cents to have a copy that I can do what I want with. This may be a little elitist, but I have the extra funds. However, for someone who has downloaded copies for free from a illegal source and were dismayed by the quality of the sound, they now have a better choice. They have been able to purchase DRM-free music from other sites, I just see iTunes as more visible than the others.

    I have read stories in the past of DJ’s that wouldn’t purchase the music from iTunes because of the high-fidelity speakers. I don’t think they will now, but the speakers and receivers of today demand a better quality music. Just as the new AppleTV will demand a higher quality content on the iTMS.

    As for upgrading the music you have now, I think that Apple will only allow upgrades up to 30 days after you purchase the DRM songs.

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