Real opens DRM-free Rhapsody MP3 store as music cartels continue to collude against Apple

“Real this morning opened a test version of the Rhapsody MP3 Store, its first store to go without copy protected files. The MTV co-owned outlet is web-based and, unlike the company’s subscription service, promises to work with any computer or device, including iPods; a Mac download manager is available to let users download all their songs as a complete package, Real says. The company has also successfully secured the catalogs of all four major music labels,” Electronista reports.

“The granting of DRM-free music from all major labels represents a further step in what’s commonly understood to be an attempt to isolate Apple and dictate iTunes pricing by offering unprotected songs to all but Apple, which is still limited to offering unguarded tracks through EMI and a number of independents. Universal and other labels have pressured Apple to allow flexible pricing above 99 cents while frequently giving stores such as Amazon the ability [to offer] similar or better deals than what iTunes offers,” Electronista reports.

Full article here.

Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek, “Analyst Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research called the series of deals another example of the industry banding together in order to compete with Apple… ‘It’s interesting to see yet another music store being permitted to sell DRM-free music that Apple is not yet permitted to sell in a DRM-free manner. This begs the question ‘Why?””

Full article here.

Greg Sandoval writes for CNET, “Increasingly, one can’t help catch a whiff of staleness surrounding open-MP3 offers. Besides Amazon, others offering at least some DRM-free music are Wal-Mart and Napster. MySpace also has plans to offer MP3s.”

Sandoval writes, “Amazon began offering open MP3s last September and there hasn’t been much movement of the needle. Amazon’s digital music store is growing but not at the expense of Apple, the NPD Group said in April.”

Sandoval writes, “The issue of DRM only counts when iPod owners can’t play iTunes music on other devices they care about. Which ones are those, you ask?”

Sandoval writes, “That’s the point. There aren’t any.”

Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “William” for the heads up.]

Does buying DRM-free tracks from non-iTunes Store sources amount to tacit support of collusion on the part of the music cartels against Apple?

If “yes,” you should only buy from iTunes Store — or get your DRM-free Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, and Universal Music Group tracks via other methods — until Apple is given similar deals to those that Amazon, Real, Napster, etc. have received.

If you answer “no,” you should think harder about the question.


  1. In terms of the small amount of music I buy from iTunes, I’ve so far not been restricted by the DRM so as such it’s not really a factor I’ve considered. That said, the increasing allowances on behalf of the music cartels towards other stores is making me consider what I buy – mostly in terms of not buying their stuff at all.

  2. Apple doesn’t care about the music, they only want you to buy an iPod. Their early success tying iTunes & iPod together gave them the lead in device sales. (that, and a superior product) But the on the whole, Apple doesn’t care where you get your music from and if these guys can get DRM free music, you can just import it into ITunes anyway. Look at the big picture.

  3. Yet another useless store that sells music online – most people wont hear about this and will continue to:
    (a) download from Limewire etc.
    (b) borrow friends and family CD’s and copy them into their computers
    (c) buy music from iTunes store
    (d) buy CD’s – which are ALL DRM-FREE.

    Music, although its pleasurable, is NOT one of life’s essentials, and the majority are NOT going to make great efforts to get it from X or Y website that has DRM free, blah blah.

    You wont die of Dengue fever if you dont get a 256 kbps copy of Eno’s first album…..

    On the other hand, you wont die or be arrested if you download ‘illegally’ either.
    Laws dont stop normal behaviour made possible by legally purchased technology.

    Most people copy DVD’s of movies they rent – did you know that?

  4. Makes one wonder sometimes, whether somewhere deep inside the Apple core, there’s a contingency plan c,d,e or m for a content providing (creating/facilitating) scheme for the distant future. I mean, isn’t that how most iLife etc. stuff came about when Adobe tried and played too coy/cute?

    Now, say you have $20B+ and a few former employees from Pixar, Disney what-not happens to be your friends (ok, fine.. acquaintances) and you can somehow persuade the whole independent artists community to contribute somehow on a fair deal while maintaining complete independence (not available from studios)… what exactly can that do for a hobby or two, even for just a bit?

  5. The way I see it, this is all part of Jobs’ master plan. By remaining as stalwart as possible on the pricing of music downloads, he has forced the music companies to capitulate — by offering DRM-free downloads at other stores. Ultimately, all this does is help Apple by making the call for the eradication of DRM (as discussed in his famous open letter) a reality. The whole benefit of DRM-free music is that regardless of where it is bought, you can play it on an iPod.

    Apple doesn’t need the iTunes music store to survive. All Apple needs is content. The iTunes music store was created because at the time, most legally purchased music was locked up in PlaysForSure and other DRM that was far too clunky and kludgy for Apple to license and build its iPod around.

    I think this really all bodes well for Apple. Plus, as other posters have alluded to, many people will still buy tracks from iTunes because (1) it’s still easier and (2) many people don’t really know what DRM means anyhow.

  6. Simply trying to copy Apple… the failures continue to pile up… or squeeze them out won’t change Apple’s dominance. It’s all about the iPod, stupid! When these people figure out… never mind, IF is more to the point.

    I’ve never bought anything from the iTunes Store, nor do I know many people who have. We all just rip our own CDs.

    Besides, for the music I’m passionate about, I rip using Apple Lossless. I wouldn’t pay anything less. With my own CDs, I’ve got the choice.

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