Apple to go DRM free?

There are rumors and then there are "rumors". This one falls under the later category that Apple may be taking its iTunes DRM free. While not every rumor makes it to the front page this one can't seem to die off. Again and again we have heard trickles of whispers that it may happen.

The idea is that DRM free services such as Amazon may catch on much faster than Apple's DRM filled iTunes store. It only makes sense that at some point Apple would finally seal a deal with the major four record labels to sell DRM free songs as well.

It was also noted that a subscription based iTunes model may not be too far off either. Simply, Apple is again feeling pressure from Microsoft with its Zune software and services. Many iTunes users would openly welcome a subscription based model but time will tell with this rumor.

All of the above are rumors but they are growing in stature as they won't seem to ever go away. Each rumor should be taken with a grain of salt but when a rumor pops up like this on multiple occasions there is generally some truth behind it.

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I buy CD and i rip them to my portable sansa music player running rockbox. I laught at all people who fight like groupies to decide which one between the iPod and Zune is better. They are both very good honestly. I tend to prefer the iPod Touch even if it's too expensive it's a very impressive piece of hardware. But i like the idea to pay less and have control over what i buy.

What about Nokia's 'Comes With Music' though?
DRM-free unlimited legal downloads for ~$100 / year ($8 a month). First year free with new phone. You can also keep the music forever.

How are they going to beat this?

Napster, Rhapsody, Zune Marketplace and I'm sure others have been subscription based for awhile and it makes complete sense. If you want to buy the songs they should be DRM free otherwise all you really are doing is renting the music to listen to it!

I love iTunes. I must of bought 400+ tracks from there, its so easy if you have an iPod, just plug and go. To be honest though I never really buy albums from there unless they are digital exclusives.

I also use Beatport, 7Digital and TrackItDown.

The Apple fanboys are not going to be happy because Apple is doing what others did first. Going subscription admits that Zune's system is a reasonable system to use in the future, and going DRM-free acknowledges that the AAC lockdown system is not a long-term solution. Its an arrogant position to say the least.

What the general public fails to understand is that even when you buy a CD you do not own anything but the plastic shell. When you buy a CD you buy the *right* to listen to that CD. Unfortunatley, this does not translate well into the digital realm. It is important to recognize that Apple's $0.99 system is the exact same system used by recod labels - selling tracks but with the copy feature heavily restricted. With digital, however, the future is clearly with the subscription models.

When you rip or download a digitial music file you actually possess nothing. the file is treated by the computer as any other file and its ability to open and be copied is the same as with any other file - its controlled by rights. This plays into the Copyright system. Advocates of DRM-free look at usage not from the file perspective, but from what the user wants to do with that file. Despite the technological and business model differences, if you download a digital music track all you acquire is the right to listen to that track. Even if you download an unauthorized copy (this is why the RIAA is going after people who POST files for sharing)

Ultimately, an etherial system that allows users to acquire the right to listen is the wave of the future. Going to subscription just lowers the cost to the consumer and limits the royalties - considering distributing electronically cost loads less than printing tangible media those royalities should be lower anyway.

Its actually the Netflix model.

The Zune store has 320 KB Mp3s the Amazon store sell 256kb MP3s. Apple sells their AAC songs 128 kb for their DRM stuff 256 for non DRM. Music Giants sells Windowms Media Files in lossless format with DRM, they are way superior to any others I've tried and can be backed up as wave files that are CD quality.

Meh. Used to use iTMS. Then my iPod died and I got a Zune and found out about how the Zune software pretty much blows iTunes out of the water. The Zune Pass is great too, especially now that you get 10 song credits per month, so you're basically only paying $5/month to listen to most of their entire catalogue. It's a sweet deal.

-Spenser

+1, that was my only gripe about the Zune pass, now that they let you keep 10 songs it makes it so much better. I've gotten about 8 or 9 of my family members (a bunch of my cousins) to switch over to the Zune from an iPod... they love their Zunes so much.

and for peeps in the uk... 7digital is the best. Every song they sell is at 320k mp3 and you can redownload any song at any time. When they used to have some songs as drm as soon as they got the record companies to go drm free they gave all those who bought drm songs a free upgrade to the mp3 version. That's customer service! (and no I don't work for them)

whiplash55 said,
Now that sounds more like it! How is their selection?

I used 7digital here in the states to get a UK album. Paid with paypal and it was only like $7.99. I saw a lot of big names but I'm not quite sure how big their selection is.

whiplash55 said,
Now that sounds more like it! How is their selection?

They have all the major record companies I believe, in fact the only artist I can think of that they don't have is the Beatles, but that can also be said for all other online services. They also apparrently offer FLAC on some songs for no extra cost, but i've not actually seen any songs with that option. All songs tend to be 80p, although they do have sales sometimes.
Also I'm pretty sure some albums (like some of Radioheads) can only be bought as an album, which is why they're not on itunes. I love 7digital

I guess it would be cool to have the option but I am not too interested in each song taking up ~20 MB of space. Even with a high-end sound system I can't tell the difference between a 192 or 256 bps AAC or WMA file and the lossless equivalent. If you compare it to 128 MP3s then sure, but most downloads are 256 and use more sophisticated compression now.

$1.29 for DRM-free lossless tracks would be reasonable. They sell some 2GB TV shows for $1.99, then surely they can sell 25MB audio tracks for $1.29.

sphbecker said,
I guess it would be cool to have the option but I am not too interested in each song taking up ~20 MB of space. Even with a high-end sound system I can't tell the difference between a 192 or 256 bps AAC or WMA file and the lossless equivalent. If you compare it to 128 MP3s then sure, but most downloads are 256 and use more sophisticated compression now.
Actually, most mp3 encoders are transparent or nearly so at vbr ~128kbps anymore:
http://www.listening-tests.info/mp3-128-1/index.htm
However, if you only own lossy files, you have no way of taking advantage of that. :P

The primary purpose of lossless media is archiving. That way, you can transcode into better, smaller, higher-quality lossy formats as they come along.
DRM free lossless would mean I could scrap CDs once-and-for-all.

Heh, I've already scrapped many of my CDs. Over the years of playing and wearing them out, they just don't hold up anymore. This is where the benefit of having your physical library ripped to your digital library comes in. :)

Only reason to hold onto any of the CDs now is for the art.

shakey_snake said,
Various win about lossless

Seconded. I have a 300GB firewire hard disk that I use (almost) exclusively for audio. The MP3s on it are slowly but surely being replaced by FLACs as I download various music (mostly metal), discover I like it, then order the CDs off Amazion (huzzah!) and rip them to FLAC, ditching the MP3 version.

Yeah, FLAC files are big, but storage is cheap these days - you can get 1TB for what, $100? That's plenty, and with external enclosures it's really easy to expand out your storage solution as big as you need it to accommodate all your files.

dead.cell said,
Heh, I've already scrapped many of my CDs. Over the years of playing and wearing them out, they just don't hold up anymore.

How exactly do you wear out a CD? Nothing touches it but a beam of light.

It's only a matter of time, the Media companies are seeing how well Amazon is doing and sooner or later the Mighty $ will win over their incessant need to control everything

Exactly. Consumers have much more control in the marketplace than they think they do. But it is ironic that the only way Stevie could convince the music labels to jump on board was DRM. Now that they're on board, the only way they might survive is by getting rid of it.

C_Guy said,
Exactly. Consumers have much more control in the marketplace than they think they do. But it is ironic that the only way Stevie could convince the music labels to jump on board was DRM. Now that they're on board, the only way they might survive is by getting rid of it.

Times change and so do attitudes.

No way, I will stick with the best at the moment. Amazon. When I want music, with no hooks, it is simple. Amazon is the ticket. No subscriptions, low prices, great selection. Sounds like an advertisement huh?

chorpeac said,
No way, I will stick with the best at the moment. Amazon. When I want music, with no hooks, it is simple. Amazon is the ticket. No subscriptions, low prices, great selection. Sounds like an advertisement huh? :)


See, I would actually love an iTunes subscription model...id gladly pay 10-15 a month for unlimited downloads...

Yeah but the trouble with traditional subscription services is that the moment you stop paying, all your music suddenly disappears or becomes unplayable. You're essentially locked in with that supplier for life.

TCLN Ryster said,
Yeah but the trouble with traditional subscription services is that the moment you stop paying, all your music suddenly disappears or becomes unplayable. You're essentially locked in with that supplier for life.


I will never understand people who say that. You don't complain about a cable TV or satellite radio subscription where the content stops working the moment you stop paying, why should this be viewed any different? If you don't like the idea then don't use it, buy your music instead of renting it, but it is not a flawed business model.

I will say that I use Amazon MP3 downloads for everything now simply because it is DRM free and I can use it on my BlackBerry, car MP3 player, iPod, any device I want. iTunes seems a little easier to use, especially being able to buy content directly with the iPhone or iPod touch, so I would probably switch if they made their stuff DRM free. I am not interested in a subscription because I am more interesting in listening to the songs I love than always loading my device up with the latest new songs.

sphbecker said,
I will say that I use Amazon MP3 downloads for everything now simply because it is DRM free and I can use it on my BlackBerry, car MP3 player, iPod, any device I want. iTunes seems a little easier to use, especially being able to buy content directly with the iPhone or iPod touch, so I would probably switch if they made their stuff DRM free. I am not interested in a subscription because I am more interesting in listening to the songs I love they always loading my device up with the latest new songs.

Exactly my point. Buy it once, play it everywhere.

chorpeac said,
Exactly my point. Buy it once, play it everywhere.

Sounds like CD to me (I know, I'm old school, but it has some unbeatable advantages).

"bdsams"
See, I would actually love an iTunes subscription model...id gladly pay 10-15 a month for unlimited downloads...

Nokia's 'Comes With Music' is ~$100 (free with new Nokia phones) for a whole year and you can keep the music forever. How's that?
That's less than $10 a month for unlimited legal music. Kept forever.