Apple StoreApple today announced that EMI Music’s entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from the iTunes Store worldwide in May. DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording, for just $1.29 per song. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song.

Carl Howe writes for Blackfriars’ Marketing, “From a marketing point of view, we see this move as smart on both EMI’s and Apple’s part. For EMI, its higher-quality DRM-free music is now differentiated in a way that could dramatically increase its revenue and increase album sales over the less-profitable singles. For Apple, it now has a deal that proves that Jobs’ claim to oppose DRM is real and differentiates Apple’s services significantly from the draconian DRM restrictions Microsoft places on its music and video. And without as many DRM shackles to enforce, Apple has the potential to further simplify the user experience for its customers.”

Howe writes, “Most record labels will see this as a ground-breaking, dangerous experiment. But with CD sales down 20% this year, they had to do something. And kudos to Jobs and Apple for having the courage to call for the end of DRM and the business drive to make it happen. It’s one small step for music, but one giant leap for consumer fair use rights in the digital age.”

Full article here.

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