the beginning of the end for DRM on music

Good news this Monday morning: Apple is going to sell songs from the entire EMI digital music catalog without DRM, starting next month. Non-DRM”d tracks will come at a premium price ($1.29), but also with better quality – 256Kbps AAC. There will be an option to upgrade existing purchases to the higher-quality non-DRM’d versions, for $0.30. Album prices will remain unchanged at $9.99, even for the DRM-free version, which should boost album sales.

This is very exciting. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start. The press release mentions that Apple hopes to be able to offer more than half of the music on the iTunes music store in DRM-free format by the end of the year, which suggests that negotiations with the other labels are ongoing.

This is it – the end of DRM for music. It might still take a while, but I’m pretty confident that 5 years from now, DRM on music will be history. The sales data from the DRM-free tracks on iTunes is going to prove conclusively what everyone but Big Media has known all along: DRM hinders sales. Stop treating your customers like criminals, make it easy to purchase unencumbered music legally, and the majority of people will do so.

Why it had to take more than 10 years for the music industry to understand this is beyond me…

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