Forbes: ‘When Steve Jobs speaks, everyone listens’

Apple Store“When Steve Jobs speaks, everyone listens. And when the Apple boss does open his mouth, it’s on his terms: only during Apple-sponsored events, almost always in his Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s backyard, and rarely with anyone else,” Louis Hau reports for Forbes.

“So when Jobs showed up at EMI Group’s London headquarters Monday morning to sit next to EMI chief Eric Nicoli, the message was clear: The two companies were up to something big,” Hau reports.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple yesterday 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.

Hau reports, “But even though Monday’s announcement would have seemed impossible a year ago, it’s not going to fundamentally change the way either company does business. Instead it’s a relatively low-risk, low-reward bet for Apple and EMI. If it pays off, they’ll both see modest gains. And if they fail, it’s unlikely to change either company’s bottom line. That’s because for better or worse, neither company is dependent on the digital music business. Apple makes money selling computers and iPods, and EMI still sells most of its music on compact discs. Dropping usage restrictions on digital music won’t change either company’s fortunes anytime soon.”

“Will removing restrictions on its digital offerings improve sales? Maybe… But while those strictures annoy some music fans, particularly tech-savvy ones, many consumers probably don’t notice the difference. That’s especially true of iPod owners, who already enjoy a seamless system through which to purchase downloads and transfer them to their music player. And most of the music on a typical iPod isn’t purchased from iTunes. Instead, it typically comes from an iPod owner’s CD collection or from illegal online file-sharing. And it’s unclear why someone who isn’t paying anything for music will start paying for it now that it’s DRM-free,” Hau reports.

Full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s DRM-free EMI deal ‘a master stroke that should cement Apple’s dominance’ – April 03, 2007
In Apple’s DRM-free EMI music deal, the big loser may be Microsoft – April 03, 2007
Apple’s DRM-free iTunes play trumps Microsoft’s huge bet on DRM – April 02, 2007
Norwegian Consumer Council senior advisor applauds Apple’s iTunes Store DRM-free music – April 02, 2007
CNBC video: Apple CEO Steve Jobs and EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli – April 02, 2007
EMI’s Nicoli on DRM-free iTunes: ‘We have to trust our consumers,’ Apple’s Jobs: ‘right thing to do’ – April 02, 2007
Kudos to Steve Jobs and Apple for having courage to call for end of DRM and making it happen – April 02, 2007
Analyst Gartenberg: iTunes Store’s DRM-free music ‘a great win for Apple’ – April 02, 2007
Apple CEO Steve Jobs to appear live on CNBC within the hour – April 02, 2007
Apple: Higher quality 256 kbps AAC DRM-free music on iTunes Store coming in May – April 02, 2007
Warner’s DRM-loving Middlebronfman warns wireless industry it may lose music market to Apple iPhone – February 14, 2007
Monster Cable announces full support of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ call for DRM-free music – February 13, 2007
BBC columnist doesn’t believe Steve Jobs’ Apple would stop using DRM if music labels would allow it – February 12, 2007
EMI may sell entire music catalog DRM-free – February 09, 2007
Recording Industry Association of America wants their DRM, calls for Apple to license FairPlay – February 08, 2007
Warner’s Middlebronfman: Jobs’ DRM-free music call ‘without logic and merit, we’ll not abandon DRM’ – February 08, 2007
Technology Review editor gets a lot wrong in his article about Apple CEO Jobs’ push to end DRM – February 07, 2007
Apple’s Jobs jolts music industry; Zune exec calls Jobs’ call for DRM-free music ‘irresponsible’ – February 07, 2007
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ posts rare open letter: ‘Thoughts on Music’ – calls for DRM-free music – February 06, 2007


  1. “…DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording…”

    isn’t really accurate. play both, one after the other, and a file that started out at 1411 (or higher with 24 bit stuff) doesn’t sound original.

  2. Message to Louis Hau, who has missed one thing —

    DRM free = higher quality = easy sale to me.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool hmm” style=”border:0;” />

  3. “And it’s unclear why someone who isn’t paying anything for music will start paying for it now that it’s DRM-free”

    Well I beleive at first the desire for music overrides the social responsibity of cooperating with society and it’s rules.

    Later as a person matures and they come to appreciate how much music has a impact in bettering their lives, they feel rather guilty and begin purchasing their music legally.

    What has prevented this evolution of additudes from occuring is the record labels insistance of the expensive album format.

    $24 for two good songs is a bad deal on the part of consumers.

    Now that things are fair, the consumer responds appropriatly instead of stealing.

    We are all part of society, we make it for what it is.

    We give, we take, we play the game and everyone gets what they need.

    If one side gets greedy, (aka the Labels), then the system fails.

    this message brought to you by the MDN word for the day. “think” it does a body good.

  4. macaholic –

    I do hear you (pun unavoidable). But I was just pointing out the bit of hype – I make ’em at 320 and I still hear the artifacting. I’m not a golden ear type, but I do confess to working in the industry.

    I’ll also make sure to state that most people probably won’t hear much difference going up to 256kbps but I DO think it’s a step in the right direction. I might actually buy something from the iTMS now.

    MDN word: voice – as in, I just had to voice my opinion.

  5. Considering CDs are 16bit, 44.1Khz, 256 AACs are fine.

    I regularly rip 90% of my stuff to 160 AACs. Very few things need to be bumped up. Newer classical music, or newer acoustic music sometimes.

  6. 16 bit 44.1 k = 1411kbps.

    256kbps is what, 20% of the original bandwidth?

    Anything high frequency content – stuff like strings, human voice, especially with cymbals, suffer big time. At 160 (which I think is iTunes ‘high quality’ default rate, correct me if I’m wrong) you have phase issues, distortion of everything listed above, and overall, more of a cassette tape quality.

    Man, I sound like an a$$hole here, don’t I?

    But it’s TRUE! don’t kid yourself with ‘since CD’s are only 16bit – 44k’ –

    that’s WAAAY more bandwidth than you’re hearing now, at 160, which might not make a difference to you, but to be honest, is a big difference.

    MDN word : Wall – as in, rip Pink Floyd’s the Wall in both formats and tell me I’m wrong.

  7. ” …rip Pink Floyd’s the Wall in both formats and tell me I’m wrong.”

    The Wall? Hell, rip ANY decent jazz CD like ones that features high-end brass (Maynard Ferguson) or drumming by a god (Buddy Rich) and tell us you can’t hear the difference. Apple Lossless would be better, but it’s a sad fact that to most “young” people today music is nothing more than background noise for other activities.

    Hey, remember when you used to put a “record” on a “turntable” and then you’d actually, you know, SIT AND LISTEN to actual music?!?!

  8. Great, now we’ll have to endure countless pontificating by the tech world’s 3 Stoogies: Dvorak, Thurrott & Enderle telling us how this is a bad idea AND they are ripping off Microsoft, Apple is doomed.

  9. 256 is better than 128, but when you record music, you’re doing it at 24bits (with internal processing, obviously, more) but that’s 144 dB of headroom (at 24 bits). Even to go to CD, you’re dithering DOWN to 16 bits, which means just making a CD robs some of that recording of it’s true depth.

    It would seem that there’s a steady de-evolution in the delivered audio content (which shows with the algorithim’s quality) to get the file size down for people to fit more on their players.

    We went from LP to cassette to CD to MP3 to AAC. Some would argue we were on a good course until CD mutated to MP3. 24-bit SACD and DVD-A would have been good next-steps bringing better audio to wider audiences, but with codecs like AC-3 and even DTS using 16-bit compressed streams, we still find lesser quality getting to the end product.

    With internet connections what they are, I guess I’m in the minority of people who would actually pay more for the 24 bit versions of stuff.

    And not just for the cleaner fades and reverb tails, but for forward moving progress in the content delivery system we currently treat as a drive-through, with little regard to how these recordings are actually made and delivered.

  10. Nice article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution today on the EMI DRM subject, put on the front of the Business section. They actually explain it very well, but they put Mick’s picture on the front and Steve near the back. Hey, maybe I now hate the AJC a little bit less.

  11. We might have had a heads up of Steve Jobs travels to London if Apple paparazzi were alert to the landings of an iJet Gulfstream V numbered N2N. Where are you San Jose Airport observers where iJet N2N is home based?

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