Vodafone has announced an agreement with record labels Universal, Sony and EMI to offer DRM-free MP3 downloads through its PC and mobile phone download service. They are set to become the first worldwide mobile operator to sell unprotected music tracks, leaving customers free to listen to their downloaded music across a myriad of different devices.
Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music are some of the world's biggest music labels and, through the deal, will be offering over a million DRM-free tracks. The Vodafone Music store is powered by RealNetworks and will provide DRM-free downloads across a range of countries, beginning with the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand by this summer. Further markets will follow, including those involving Vodafone's partner networks. Pricing will depend on your location.
Vodafone say that customers who have already bought songs through its store from the participating record labels in a DRM-protected WMA format will be able to update them to the DRM-free MP3 format for no extra cost. The company is said to also be in talks with the Warner Music Group about a similar deal.
Pieter Knook, Vodafone Internet Services Director, commented on the deals: "Music is central to many of our customers' lives. By Vodafone pioneering DRM free on mobile and offering MP3s on PC, they will now have the freedom to download tracks from their favourite artists without any device restrictions allowing them to experience their music however they want it, wherever they are."
This is another major step by record companies in an attempt to increase digital music sales and reduce online piracy, which has been eating at their profits for a long time now. Vodafone are joining the likes of iTunes and Amazon in offering tracks without DRM restrictive protection, which has always been a turn off for digital music consumers.