EMI Music launches DRM-free digital downloads

London, 2 April 2007 - EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said, "By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music."

In May, Apple's iTunes Store will be the first online retailer to offer EMI's catalogue in two formats: at standard audio quality with DRM, or, for a premium price, improved audio quality without DRM restrictions. Specific details are as follows:

  • Standard tracks: 128kb/s AAC, DRM protection, locked into Apple players, $0.99/€0.99/£0.79
  • Premium tracks: 256kb/s AAC, no DRM protection, interoperable with non-Apple players, $1.29/€1.29/£0.99
  • Previously bought EMI tracks can be 'upgraded' to higher quality and DRM-free for $0.30/£0.15
  • Albums: offered with the above premium features at the same price prior to the announcement.
  • Music videos: also offered DRM-free.
News source: EMI Music Press Release

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I think it would have better for them to release the tracks in some other format (read MP3) since not many player can play AAC. Also I've always said they should offer Lossless tracks

Except that AAC is a superior format with better quality at the same bitrates. A lot of players will play unprotected AAC. The mp3 format is outdated and needs to die.

[You may want to read the comments (at least skim them) before posting. This was already discussed in #30.]

QuarterSwede said,
The mp3 format is outdated and needs to die.

I think the legions of LAME fans out there would beg to differ. MP3s sound great to me when ripped properly.

clever, very clever, just a money making scheme they really dont care about piracy at all, just in for making a quick buck when they can...

You really think that justifies a 30 cent pay hike? Itunes boasts how many millions of subscribers? Multiply that by 30 cents. You going to tell me that whatever that amount is, it's not enough to cover costs of larger storage for them?

The cost isn't storage, it's transmission. Increasing file size 100% with a 30% price increase on a product that nets Apple 5 cents of revenue and almost zero profit seems about right. Yes.

You guys give up way too easy.

What is it that you've done to make digital music a viable commercial operation that is fair to consumers? So far, Apple has done more and done right as far as I can tell. If you want to live in a Black and White world and sit on the sideline for 20 years, have fun. The rest of us are participating in the market, aware that compromise and transitions are necessary.

It's still AAC so if the DRM wasn't preventing you form putting the music on other players then the obscure file format still does. Well, you say, you can always burn the music to a CD and rip it into a different format. Yeah and burning only to re-rip is a cumbersome method that affects fidelity upon re-encoding.

It's also awfully nice of Apple and EMI to offer the un-DRM'ed music at $0.30 more per track and justify it by saying it's to compensate for the higher quality encoding. They're truly just compensating for the projected loss they believe un-DRM'ed music will bring.

Lame.

betasp said,
Did you even read the other comments...

Yes, I did. Out of the portable devices that support the AAC format, only four are truly DAPs (digital audio players). The iPod, Zune, Sansa e200R, and Sony Walkman S. That's some freedom.

AAC is an open format, so there's nothing to stop other manufacturers using it. Once DRM is gone altogether I'm sure they will.

Wow.

First people complained about having DRM in their music. They wanted it removed. The companies did not want to remove it. But now finally after all these years, they remove it, but now force you to pay more for it and on top of that for far less quality then a CD. And it appears most of you are HAPPY with this move. I'm sorry but I still would rather buy the CD then pay for this garbage.

I mean. seriously, who on this forum hasn't stripped the security off of these music files? Is it really that difficult and time consuming?
and now all of a sudden 128kb/s isn't good enough? hmmmph. I'd say Jobs and EMI have you exactly where they want you. Thinking their the greatest, most nicest people in the whole gosh durn world while jacking your wallet even more. For a service quite frankly, should have been DRM free to begin with.

Exactly.

What is it that you've done to make digital music a viable commercial operation that is fair to consumers? So far, Apple has done more and done right as far as I can tell. If you want to live in a Black and White world and sit on the sideline for 20 years, have fun. The rest of us are participating in the market, aware that compromise and transitions are necessary.

Either you are working for a contracted company by Apple or EMI to spread information on how great this move is, or you are a consumer who doesn't give a **** about the quality, price, and how this move is actually screwing you in the ass. Look at what this move has done; most of the people in this thread would scream bloody murder if their music had DRM in it, but now they are praising these companies for upping the price on the very same music without DRM, and trying to justify it with a very small increase in quality. It's a corporate marketing strangle-hold now.

I have no more to say I cannot believe most of you are buying into this.

It should be 256kbps + DRM free for $0.99 a track, but this is a start. Good to see, and I hope others follow suit.

Epimetheus:
256kbps AAC is lossless to my ears, anyway. I'm not sure I would consider even 128kbps as "far less quality" than a CD. Certainly less quality, but not far less IMHO. Maybe my audio equipment didn't cost thousands of dollars and that is why.

agreed on both counts

though, i'll selfishly admit that given the positive attitude of most of the people in here, the $1.30 will make apple crapload of money, which only means good things for my stock/options.

Actually, it's the copyright owners who are to blame. Why would any company (MS, Apple, etc) want to spend that much money in creating and maintaining a DRM tech unless it was the only way to obtain rights to distribute copyrighted works?

I just see as attempt to prove one there point "people will still pirate with or without DRM" if DRM free mp3 doesn't effect we going to see a lot rub on your face they were right..

256k is way more than you need, if you can really tell the difference between these and an old fashioned CD then you are LYING, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference with the human ear.

As for removing DRM how can you all be bitching, are you not all the ones that bithed about DRM in the first place, now they remove it and you bitch some more, you are just demonstrating the point that you can't make everyone happy, they'll always find something to complain about.

I say well done to EMI, and i would gladly pay an extra 30 cents per song, what all you cheap ******* complaining about.

it's not about being cheap, it's just about claiming what should rightfully be ours. in all honesty, ripping it at twice as much bitrate without DRM requires at least the same amount of effort as 128 kbps. as per macrumors.com it was apple that jacked up the price for DRM free, not EMI, which is kind of being greedy on apple's side, but at the end of the day, what the hell.. i'm canadian, free music sharing is still legal here

This is awesome, I hope all record labels will follow. The only downside I see with ACC atm is that it isn't supported as widely as mp3. For example my car stereo nor tv DVD player can't play ACC :P So I hope it will be possible in future products.

"I say well done to EMI, and i would gladly pay an extra 30 cents per song, what all you cheap ******* complaining about."

So another words, you are saying that you will gladly download the music for free, after someone else has paid for it? :P

Does everyone here seem to miss the fact the DRM-free albums will cost exactly the same as DRM'ed albums. It's only the indvidual tracks that are more expensive, and if the EU gets it way, the UK will get cheeper downloads to fall in line with European pricing (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6520677.stm)

This is a great move, and EMI should be praised for giving consumers choice, im sure other labels will have to follow suit.

I would be quite interested in using this if only they weren't restricting you to using AAC format, i have an IRiver player and it will only play MP3, OGG, WMA.

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