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EMI Music launches DRM-Free iTunes downloads in higher-quality

post #1 of 161
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Apple 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, Apple said.

iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today -- 128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM -- at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside DRM-free higher quality versions when available.

"We are going to give iTunes customers a choice -- the current versions of our songs for the same 99 cent price, or new DRM-free versions of the same songs with even higher audio quality and the security of interoperability for just 30 cents more," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year."

With DRM-free music from the EMI catalog, iTunes customers will have the ability to download tracks from their favorite EMI artists without any usage restrictions that limit the types of devices or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on. DRM-free songs purchased from the iTunes Store will be encoded in AAC at 256 kbps, twice the current bit rate of 128 kbps, and will play on all iPods, Mac or Windows computers, Apple TVs and soon iPhones, as well as many other digital music players.

"EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favorite artists," said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group.

iTunes will also offer customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free format for 30 cents a song. All EMI music videos will also be available in DRM-free format with no change in price.

Apple's iTunes Store features the world's largest catalog with over five million songs, 350 television shows and over 400 movies. It has sold over two billion songs, 50 million TV shows and over 1.3 million movies, making it the world's most popular online music, TV and movie store.

For a list of popular EMI bands, see this Wikipedia page.
post #2 of 161
Great news
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #3 of 161
Congrats Apple and EMI!
post #4 of 161
It sucks though they now offer it for 1.29. Seems Steve Jobs couldn't keep it at 0.99 because that is what he wanted all along! It would be really great if the DRM free songs didn't complement the "normal" tunes, but *replaced* them.
post #5 of 161
Win-Win all round. Fantastic.

After a suitable period of denial expect the other majors to fall in line. This is a realistic workable model.
post #6 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by dacloo View Post

It sucks though they now offer it for 1.29. Seems Steve Jobs couldn't keep it at 0.99 because that is what he wanted all along! It would be really great if the DRM free songs didn't complement the "normal" tunes, but *replaced* them.

Albums cost the same and the encoding rate is doubled. Life in the real world is a negotiation.
post #7 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by dacloo View Post

It sucks though they now offer it for 1.29. Seems Steve Jobs couldn't keep it at 0.99 because that is what he wanted all along! It would be really great if the DRM free songs didn't complement the "normal" tunes, but *replaced* them.

i think asking for DRM free file at $0.99 is just too much. remember, EMI is taking a HUGE risk by doing this. kudos to EMI for showing some guts to actually try this.

Remember, stripping DRM also has an impact on iTunes sales too. It probably isn't huge but Apple could lose a little bit of market here.
post #8 of 161
Ok Steve, I'll buy a video now. But, I hope to see some of my money back in the stock price.
post #9 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by dacloo View Post

It sucks though they now offer it for 1.29. Seems Steve Jobs couldn't keep it at 0.99 because that is what he wanted all along! It would be really great if the DRM free songs didn't complement the "normal" tunes, but *replaced* them.

Because choice is bad? If no-DRM isn't a compelling choice for $0.30 more then the consumers will have spoken that to the masses non-invasive DRM (unlike Sony's rootkit) is just fine if costs are lower. That and 128 kbps is also fine for most folks.

I'd say the $0.30 is worth it...

Vinea
post #10 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by McDavies View Post

Ok Steve, I'll buy a video now. But, I hope to see some of my money back in the stock price.

This is only the beginning. Fast your seatbelt's.
post #11 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by syklee26 View Post

Remember, stripping DRM also has an impact on iTunes sales too. It probably isn't huge but Apple could lose a little bit of market here.

iTunes sales or iPod sales? I dunno about either really but eh, it would be interesting to hear why you think that? More torrents based on iTunes downloads? I'd think everything on iTunes is already available...

Vinea
post #12 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinney57 View Post

Albums cost the same and the encoding rate is doubled. Life in the real world is a negotiation.

Is the album with DRM or no? Whatever, it's a pretty cool announcement. Steve is a shrewd negotiator. Labels (i'm assuming the others will come on board eventually) get the price hike they want, people get the DRM-free / higher quality option.

It will sure make a lot of people on this board happy! I recall many people saying they'd pay more for a higher quality download.
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post #13 of 161
I had to double check that this wasn't posted on April 1st.
post #14 of 161
here's hoping this is step 1 on the road to the death of drm.

step two? microsoft
post #15 of 161
This is awesome, one more step and I'll actually start purchasing digital music on a regular basis. All I want now is to have albums come with PDF artwork/booklets like a few special releases do already. Even without that I'll be much more likely to make spur of the moment purchases now that I get the higher quality and don't have to worry about DRM. I soooo hope the other labels follow relatively soon!
post #16 of 161
So, the question now is though, how does this affect the goings on in Europe over iTunes being closed off to other systems? Now people can buy their songs through iTunes and put them on any player (that supports AAC). Seems like users now should demand that manufacturers start putting out players that can handle AAC, since Apple came 1/2 way. But they'll probably complain about how the horrible WM format can't be used on an iPod and thus the lawsuits and legislation will continue.
post #17 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flounder View Post

Is the album with DRM or no?

According to the BBC, non-DRM albums will be the same price as DRMd albums. That makes sense as otherwise the albums would end up £2-3 more than buying a CD.

"By contrast albums free of DRM and those with it will be the same price."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6516189.stm

They also did a silly rough $ to £ conversion for the upgrade charge too quoting it as 15p when it's actually 20p, even though 15p would actually be more realistic.
post #18 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by floccus View Post

So, the question now is though, how does this affect the goings on in Europe over iTunes being closed off to other systems? Now people can buy their songs through iTunes and put them on any player (that supports AAC). Seems like users now should demand that manufacturers start putting out players that can handle AAC, since Apple came 1/2 way. But they'll probably complain about how the horrible WM format can't be used on an iPod and thus the lawsuits and legislation will continue.

And so they should until the last online store has given up DRM and restricting customer rights.
post #19 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by dacloo View Post

It sucks though they now offer it for 1.29. Seems Steve Jobs couldn't keep it at 0.99 because that is what he wanted all along! It would be really great if the DRM free songs didn't complement the "normal" tunes, but *replaced* them.

bit*h bit*h nag nag... whatever. they could probably offer you the music for free and on a silver plate and you'd still complain...
post #20 of 161
Anyone noticed that EMI said this would be available worldwide?
Does this mean that countries without an Apple store can purchase from EMI now?

ps.
So what's the audio quality on a music video anyway?
Can people upgrade from audio to video?
post #21 of 161
Steve was right; If the labels can offer DRM free music in the form of CD's then this is a logical next step. Make it more convenient for the consumer and they will GO FOR IT! Kudos to the AAPL team for getting a label on board, 0.30 premium makes perfect sense, other labels should do the same soon! Imagine serving the consumer instead of lawyering them heavily... what a great day for digital rights.
post #22 of 161
I wonder what the interface for this will be like ? Will you have 2 'buy song' buttons ? What if you want to mix and match some DRM and non-DRM purchases from the same album. What if you later do a 'complete my album' (new feature) - do you get DRM or non-DRM, or a choice ?

Not saying that they haven't thought of this, just curious how they solved it.
post #23 of 161
now i think apple need to improve and tune their AAC encoder.
post #24 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by syklee26 View Post

i think asking for DRM free file at $0.99 is just too much. remember, EMI is taking a HUGE risk by doing this. kudos to EMI for showing some guts to actually try this.

Remember, stripping DRM also has an impact on iTunes sales too. It probably isn't huge but Apple could lose a little bit of market here.

EMI is taking NO risk in doing this. Remember the whole premise of the move is that pretty well every track on earth is available FOC if you can be bothered to look for it; but a large and viable number of people choose not to. Its about the service not the product... same with the iTunes store... there is no downside for Apple here and its the smartest thing EMI have done in years.
post #25 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

now i think apple need to improve and tune their AAC encoder.

Why? What specifically is wrong with it?
post #26 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee4orce View Post

I wonder what the interface for this will be like ? Will you have 2 'buy song' buttons ?

Good question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee4orce View Post

What if you want to mix and match some DRM and non-DRM purchases from the same album. What if you later do a 'complete my album' (new feature) - do you get DRM or non-DRM, or a choice ?

Not saying that they haven't thought of this, just curious how they solved it.

I'd say you can buy any combination you want.

If you've spent $2.29 on 2 songs (one DRM, one non-DRM), then that value gets discounted off the album price. They said the albums will be non-DRM.

I suspect that the record companies want to encourage sales of albums. By selling DRM free singles at slightly higher cost, and keeping the albums the same cost, they make a nice win.

ps. I would have liked to see them do something interesting with videos (eg: if you put the original CD in your computer, you can purchase the music video for $1).
post #27 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee4orce View Post

What if you later do a 'complete my album' (new feature) - do you get DRM or non-DRM, or a choice ?

Albums are always DRM-free now, as I understand it.
post #28 of 161
Why go to 256, since Apple 'claims' the following from Dolby Labs

Quote:
AAC compressed audio at 128 Kbps (stereo) has been judged by expert listeners to be indistinguishable from the original uncompressed audio source.

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/
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post #29 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

For a list of popular EMI bands, see this Wikipedia page.

Not to sound cynical, but I wonder which of the bands in that Wikipedia list might be excluded from going DRM-free because of licensing or what have you?

And to continue in my slightly cynical line of thought, how long now before see a headline that reads "Universal buys EMI, Shuts Down DRM Free Experiment?"

With that said, this might get me to actually start buying music from the iTunes Store (or at least EMI artists) coupled with the Complete My Album feature. Maybe if they could hurry up and get the DRM-free Depeche Mode tracks out there...
post #30 of 161
What I would like to see is VBR AAC files, though from what I remember the quality of the VBR is not the greatest, or at least didn't used to be. That or AAC+ with SBR, then I could also listen to the streams I want with iTunes rather than VLC.
post #31 of 161
This is good news, the only two small anoyances right now are; 1. The tracks cost more, if one still wants to go with .99c a song thing that will still encompass DRM. Contrary to some beliefs in this thread I don't think this is a risky move, it can only mean higher sales and more profit for both companies IMO. 2. The other little niggle now is the gap where only a certain amount of songs on iTunes will be DRM free thus causing confusion. "Is this a DRM free song?" "Will the song I'm searching for be DRM free" Etc. etc.

I think a better idea would have been to drop DRM completey for all EMI content and keep existing bitrate songs DRM free and .99c, and make them also 1.29c at double bitrate. This is the only solution IMO that could please all people properly, both consumers and audiophiles.
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post #32 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

drop DRM completey for all EMI content and keep existing bitrate songs DRM free and .99c, and make them also 1.29c at double bitrate.

Maybe. But watching how sales are affected will be a real education for Apple and EMI. What proportion of people will pay extra for the non-DRM double rate? Will it affect album buying patterns?
post #33 of 161
i don't think this will affect ipod sales at all and if anything it willl increase itunes sales through peoples ability to sync them with other mp3 players.........

now will itunes support other MP3 players ???????? that would be intresting.

other BIG thing here is Steve's pre anounce ment whats he saving up his "oh by the way it's avalible now" for ??????
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post #34 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

Because choice is bad? If no-DRM isn't a compelling choice for $0.30 more then the consumers will have spoken that to the masses non-invasive DRM (unlike Sony's rootkit) is just fine if costs are lower. That and 128 kbps is also fine for most folks.

I'd say the $0.30 is worth it...

Vinea

or maybe they'll just have spoken that they'd rather pay 99 cents per song because it's an easier number to think of then a dollar thirty, which sounds like a dollar fifty
post #35 of 161
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post #36 of 161
AAC huh? Do all the other players (e.g., Zune, etc.) support AAC now?
post #37 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I urge everyone here to copy and paste this in this link, or write some similar feedback there and send it to Apple. This is our chance to get heard guys and gals:

not unless you check your spelling first.
post #38 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by syklee26 View Post

Remember, stripping DRM also has an impact on iTunes sales too. It probably isn't huge but Apple could lose a little bit of market here.

iTunes sales will increase. It's the iPod marketshare that now has a greater likelihood, however slight, to be affected negatively.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacillus View Post

Why go to 256, since Apple 'claims' the following from Dolby Labs

http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/

On an iPod with iPod headphones i can't tell the difference, but with a real hi-def system I can tell the difference upto around 192kbps AAC (encoded with iTunes). But regardless of what percentage of the population can tell the difference using such-and-such equipment the real issue is perception.



Hair Brained Theory Alert:
Usually such offerings are offered immediately, unless there are other circumstances that need to be address (eg: FCC approval of iPhone). I think the reason that Jobs gave a release date of May is to allow the other companies on iTunes to weigh the possibility of what EMI is doing and to follow suit with the same offerings. Thereby, allowing ALL iTunes audio to be offered as 128k Protected AAC and 256k AAC at the same time.
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post #39 of 161
First time poster but long time reader and Apple shareholder.

The press release and commentary pushes "DRM free" but if other players that don't support AAC can't play the tunes doesn't DRM still exist? In other words, isn't AAC just Apple's own DRM?

Or is Apple opening up AAC so that these "DRM free" tunes can be played on any player that supports MP3?
post #40 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by doemel View Post

not unless you check your spelling first.

I think it's sorted now. I was up until 4am working on my website, very tired
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