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Apple said with deals for all DRM-free iTunes, 3G downloads

post #1 of 64
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In what could be a significant victory for its online music store, Apple is believed to have landed agreements not only to remove copy protection from the music of all major labels but to also allow direct music downloads to iPhones over cellular networks.

The deal reported by sources speaking to CNET News.com would see Apple break its longtime insistence on a fixed per-track rate for songs and give in to frequent demands from Sony, Universal and Warner that would change the pricing depending on the popularity and recentness of a given song.

While many songs will supposedly stay at the 99-cent level, hits will now potentially cost "more" than this amount. In exchange, back catalog tracks will drop to as low as 79 cents each to help move older or less popular content.

On making the switch to a variable pricing model, any new additions to iTunes' music roster would immediately be made available without the digital rights management) DRM that prevents easy copying, while existing titles would gradually see their locks removed. How existing tracks will be handled isn't known; in the past, Apple has charged a small fee to upgrade songs to iTunes Plus, which not only removes DRM but doubles the bitrate and potentially improves sound quality as a result.

An announcement could be made as soon as tomorrow's Macworld Expo, according to the report, as Apple reportedly struck its agreement just this past week.

If authentic, such a deal would be considered a watershed for the acceptance of unrestricted online music. Stores such as Amazon MP3, eMusic and Walmart have had completely unprotected music for roughly a year but have failed to dent Apple's virtual control of the market, which is now so strong that it has outperformed Walmart's retail division and other previously dominant physical outlets. Various reports have previously suggested that major labels besides EMI, which until now has been Apple's only major supporter of DRM-free tracks, have been using the offer of unguarded songs as leverage to boost competitors.

Multiple legal hurdles are also possibly cleared by such a move, including a recent antitrust lawsuit and Norway's years-long formal complaint. Both of these accuse Apple of unfairly locking customers to its hardware and software ecosystem by selling music on iTunes with FairPlay protection in place and refusing to license the standard to outsiders.

Separately, other sources claim an apparent breakthrough for over-the-air iTunes downloads. Where wireless purchases on iPhones are currently limited to Wi-Fi -- often believed due to carriers' concerns over data traffic -- this second plan would let users download songs over the EDGE or more likely 3G networks.

Terms of the deal haven't been illustrated, though network providers have often charged extra for cellular downloads in part to cover the costs of sending the data over their services.
post #2 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In what could be a significant victory for its online music store, Apple is claimed to have landed agreements not only to remove copy protection from the music of all major labels but to allow direct music downloads to iPhones over cellular networks.

The deal mentioned by alleged sources of CNET would have Apple break its longtime insistence on a fixed per-track rate for songs and give in to frequent demands from Sony, Universal and Warner that would change the pricing depending on the popularity and recentness of a given song.

While many songs will supposedly stay at the 99-cent level, hits will now potentially cost "more" than this amount. In exchange, back catalog tracks will drop to as low as 79 cents each to help move older or less popular content.

On making the switch to a variable pricing model, any new additions to iTunes' music roster would immediately be made available without the digital rights management) DRM that prevents easy copying, while existing titles would gradually see their locks removed. How existing tracks will be handled isn't known; in the past, Apple has charged a small fee to upgrade songs to iTunes Plus, which not only removes DRM but doubles the bitrate and potentially improves sound quality as a result.

An announcement could be made as soon as tomorrow's Macworld Expo, according to the report, as Apple reportedly struck its agreement just this past week.

If authentic, such a deal would be considered a watershed for the acceptance of unrestricted online music. Stores such as Amazon MP3, eMusic and Walmart have had completely unprotected music for roughly a year but have failed to dent Apple's virtual control of the market, which is now so strong that it has outperformed Walmart's retail division and other previously dominant physical outlets. Various reports have previously suggested that major labels besides EMI, which until now has been Apple's only major supporter of DRM-free tracks, have been using the offer of unguarded songs as leverage to boost competitors.

Multiple legal hurdles are also possibly cleared by such a move, including a recent antitrust lawsuit and Norway's years-long formal complaint. Both of these accuse Apple of unfairly locking customers to its hardware and software ecosystem by selling music on iTunes with FairPlay protection in place and refusing to license the standard to outsiders.

Separately, other sources claim an apparent breakthrough for over-the-air iTunes downloads. Where wireless purchases on iPhones are currently limited to Wi-Fi -- often believed due to carriers' concerns over data traffic -- this second plan would let users download songs over the EDGE or more likely 3G networks.

Terms of the deal haven't been illustrated, though network providers have often charged extra for cellular downloads in part to cover the costs of sending the data over their services.

I am all for the 3G purchase and download. I hope this is true.
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post #3 of 64
This is good news! Free up those tracks for legal purchasers of music.
post #4 of 64
This would make Andy Ihnatko smile and fist pump, if anything would.
post #5 of 64
I hope Apple hasn't given in on variable pricing, because you can bet the average price of songs will go up. Anything popular (both new and old hits) will be significantly more than $1. Only old songs that have very few takers will be priced under $1.

And I'm sure pricing on Amazon will mysteriously match Apple's pricing the next day.

The only 'winners' for this is the big music cartel. Everybody else (namely Artists and Customers) lose.
post #6 of 64
This is not good, AT&T 3G network sucks already imagine how it's going to be when everyone starts downloading Music, O well, thank god my phone is on WiFi 90% of the time
post #7 of 64
Great on both counts, especially if there is a free upgrade to DRM free for existing songs/albums.
post #8 of 64
So music people want will suddenly cost 2x-3x more than it does today, and crap nobody wants will be 20 cents cheaper? How is this good for the consumers who don't intend to return to the days of pirating?
post #9 of 64
Groan.

All new songs will jump to $1.39 and all new albums will go to $13.99 for the first 3-4 months after release. At least.

Unless you buy a lot of old music, you'll either have to wait 3 months after an album is released or you'll see an effective 40% increase in the price of buying music.

This sucks.

I like the media Executive Sandy Pearlman's idea of all songs being 10 cents and albums for $1.00. Then nobody would buy individual songs, but buy entire albums. And BUNCHES of them.

Jim
post #10 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

This is not good, AT&T 3G network sucks already imagine how it's going to be when everyone starts downloading Music, O well, thank god my phone is on WiFi 90% of the time

AT&T doesn't really care of their network performance, other than how it affects people leaving their network for another provider.

A music file isn't that much larger than say, a full-resolution picture (3 - 5 Mb) or a YouTube video. After the initial excitement of being able to buy music with your phone, people won't be buying music like crazy. How many people will even average, say, 1 song a day?

No, this limitation is about double-dipping. You've been sold a so-called "unlimited" data plan. AT&T want you to pay again for the 'right' to download music from iTMS. Something along the lines of 100% extra per song would be fine with them (so it's in line with their other music stores for other cell phones).
post #11 of 64
The prices for new releases are going up. I think this is a net-loss for consumers, but the optics look good for Apple thanks to the anti-DRM crowd.
post #12 of 64
...but I don't want to be paying the same as what it would cost me to go to JB Hi-Fi and buy the physical disc. An album should be cheaper on iTMS. I know it cost them to keep the music on a server somewhere but still doesn't cost as much as stamping the disc then shipping it to the store where it takes up space until I purchase it!
post #13 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by astrosmash View Post

The prices for new releases are going up. I think this is a net-loss for consumers, but the optics look good for Apple thanks to the anti-DRM crowd.

That's fine. The quality is going up too. I would rather pay $1.39 for an unprotected 256k file that actually sounds good, than a 99c track that is DRM and sounds like sh/t.
post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by brainfragment View Post

...but I don't want to be paying the same as what it would cost me to go to JB Hi-Fi and buy the physical disc. An album should be cheaper on iTMS. I know it cost them to keep the music on a server somewhere but still doesn't cost as much as stamping the disc then shipping it to the store where it takes up space until I purchase it!

I know, if prices go up on albums that I want, and I want the WHOLE album, I'll probably buy it in disc form so I have a hardcopy.
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post #15 of 64
Remember when iTunes Plus started with EMI tracks? Remember the inital price tag? $1.29/song. A few months later they dropped back to $0.99/song.

If that's the plan for the last three of the Big Four labels' catalogs, it doesn't really bother me (again, so long as it returns to a buck a song within a few months).

But if these hold-out labels think it's gonna be a permanent price-hike, hey, let them hang themselves. I don't care for the vast majority of what they're selling anyway and they'll look pretty silly trying to charge everyone more with the economy like it is.
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post #16 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post

I hope Apple hasn't given in on variable pricing, because you can bet the average price of songs will go up. Anything popular (both new and old hits) will be significantly more than $1. Only old songs that have very few takers will be priced under $1.

they tried to do the 1.29 itunes plus and it was a failure, i don't see them doing that part again. but I could see them dropping the price of older items 10-20 cents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

This is not good, AT&T 3G network sucks already imagine how it's going to be when everyone starts downloading Music, O well, thank god my phone is on WiFi 90% of the time

and by the same token, what about itunes servers. DRM music and 3g downloads are each alone a reason for higher traffic. both could be a disaster for a good couple of weeks. I don't see them happening together after the fubar that was the new iphone, app store and mobileme at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

Great on both counts, especially if there is a free upgrade to DRM free for existing songs/albums.

i doubt it would happen. because you are still ending up with two files. a small fee isn't unreasonable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

I know, if prices go up on albums that I want, and I want the WHOLE album, I'll probably buy it in disc form so I have a hardcopy.

yep, which is why i don't think they would increase the prices outrageously.

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post #17 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post

I hope Apple hasn't given in on variable pricing, because you can bet the average price of songs will go up. Anything popular (both new and old hits) will be significantly more than $1. Only old songs that have very few takers will be priced under $1.

And I'm sure pricing on Amazon will mysteriously match Apple's pricing the next day.

The only 'winners' for this is the big music cartel. Everybody else (namely Artists and Customers) lose.

Yeah, the next price retailers usually jump to above $.99 is $1.29 which is already too much.

Anything more than ten bucks or so for a digital copy of an album is highway robbery.
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post #18 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post

AT&T doesn't really care of their network performance, other than how it affects people leaving their network for another provider.

A music file isn't that much larger than say, a full-resolution picture (3 - 5 Mb) or a YouTube video. After the initial excitement of being able to buy music with your phone, people won't be buying music like crazy. How many people will even average, say, 1 song a day?

No, this limitation is about double-dipping. You've been sold a so-called "unlimited" data plan. AT&T want you to pay again for the 'right' to download music from iTMS. Something along the lines of 100% extra per song would be fine with them (so it's in line with their other music stores for other cell phones).

I thought it was the labels that got more money for downloads over phone services. Music files aren't that much different from app sizes, at least the biggest app that can be downloaded over cell data is 10MB. But the photo sizes I get from the phone are only about a third of a megabyte.
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

So music people want will suddenly cost 2x-3x more than it does today, and crap nobody wants will be 20 cents cheaper? How is this good for the consumers who don't intend to return to the days of pirating?

Just don't buy lousy Top of the Charts music.

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post #20 of 64
This doesn't bother me at all. I've gone from downloading song to downloading apps. Becoming a developer is like the new gold rush. Becoming a musician is a dead end.

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post #21 of 64
In all fairness artists put varying levels of work into their songs. A great track "should" cost more. I'm more excited about ridding the need for DRM which means at least my music can now bee freed.

I'd also like to see more cheap tracks at sixty cents or like that ...oldy stuff that's out of print. Nothing like a bit of virtual "crate digging"
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post #22 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

This is not good, AT&T 3G network sucks already imagine how it's going to be when everyone starts downloading Music, O well, thank god my phone is on WiFi 90% of the time

If we remember a few months back AT&T said they are going to be increasing their 3G speed to up to 20 MBPS soon. That they have been working on the infrastructure. So lets hope this holds true and maybe it won't be a problem. Plus those of us with Jailbroken iPhones can finally game with the phones internet rather than just browse and chat. 3G is still too slow for Call of Duty to be any good online lol.
post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

This doesn't bother me at all. I've gone from downloading song to downloading apps. Becoming a developer is like the new gold rush. Becoming a musician is a dead end.

I've read a lot of silly things you have written, but think you've out-dumbed yourself with this comment.

You are actually suggesting that musicianship is a "dead end" now because of profit margins? All musicians should just give it up now and become software developers??? Forget about music everybody, it's "over," cause there is no money in it. Of course no one could possibly have any other reason for becoming a musician than money.

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post #24 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

If we remember a few months back AT&T said they are going to be increasing their 3G speed to up to 20 MBPS soon. That they have been working on the infrastructure. So lets hope this holds true and maybe it won't be a problem. Plus those of us with Jailbroken iPhones can finally game with the phones internet rather than just browse and chat. 3G is still too slow for Call of Duty to be any good online lol.

It's bandwidth hogs like you wasting valuable resources trying to do things that are not even possible anyway, that are the problem though. If everyone was similarly uncaring and selfish then no one would even be able to make a call.
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post #25 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by heyjp View Post

Groan.

All new songs will jump to $1.39 and all new albums will go to $13.99 for the first 3-4 months after release. At least.

Unless you buy a lot of old music, you'll either have to wait 3 months after an album is released or you'll see an effective 40% increase in the price of buying music.

This sucks.

I like the media Executive Sandy Pearlman's idea of all songs being 10 cents and albums for $1.00. Then nobody would buy individual songs, but buy entire albums. And BUNCHES of them.

Jim

Album prices won't increase, just (hit) single prices will increase.. Say $1.29 if you just buy "the single," or $9.99 if you buy the whole album.. The labels aren't trying to discourage digital album sales, they are trying to discourage the ability for the consumer to buy just the "hit song."
post #26 of 64
I'll get excited when I can spend my iTunes gift cards on lossless audio files.
post #27 of 64
C'mon people! You complain that DRM is oppressive which according to you, encourages piracy. Now DRM is removed and now you complain about it being more expensive which you'll probably still continue to pirate music. Either way, the artists will get screwed but not necessarily by the studios this time around.

All the free stuff out on the Internet just makes you feel some kind of entitlement that everything should be free. You're given an inch and then you demand a mile.

Just buy the CD, rip-it and lock yourself back in the basement. The world will be a better place for the non-whiners.

I applaud this move. The market will dictate the pricing. I think a majority of music will be below the 99-cent price so it will offset the increases with the gotta-have-that-track-right-now music.

</rant>
post #28 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

C'mon people! You complain that DRM is oppressive which according to you, encourages piracy. Now DRM is removed and now you complain about it being more expensive which you'll probably still continue to pirate music. Either way, the artists will get screwed but not necessarily by the studios this time around.

All the free stuff out on the Internet just makes you feel some kind of entitlement that everything should be free. You're given an inch and then you demand a mile.

Just buy the CD, rip-it and lock yourself back in the basement. The world will be a better place for the non-whiners.

I applaud this move. The market will dictate the pricing. I think a majority of music will be below the 99-cent price so it will offset the increases with the gotta-have-that-track-right-now music.

</rant>

Mmmhmm. $.79 for normal tracks, $1.19 for latest tracks.

For albums, I would expect new albums to be $2 or $3 more than usual for the first 2 or 3 weeks after release.

@ Daniel0418: Why on earth are you trying to play CoD on an iPhone? mobile networks are not designed to support multiplayer gaming. Wifi maybe, depending on the connection speed. Not to mention that the controls would be crazy. (I'll keep a conventional keyboard/mouse for gaming, thanks)
post #29 of 64
In any field, no one can make everyone happy. We don't have firm prices from this rumor, so it could be that they charge $1.09 for hit songs. iTunes DRM never bothered me because I only use an iPod/iPhone and don't intend to use any other program or player for music. There are going to be people who download legally and download illegally. That's the way it is. The big four music labels can suck a big fat one in the end. Same goes for the MAFIIAA.
post #30 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

C'mon people! You complain that DRM is oppressive which according to you, encourages piracy. Now DRM is removed and now you complain about it being more expensive which you'll probably still continue to pirate music. Either way, the artists will get screwed but not necessarily by the studios this time around.

I applaud this move. The market will dictate the pricing. I think a majority of music will be below the 99-cent price so it will offset the increases with the gotta-have-that-track-right-now music.

</rant>

Many people on this board believe that DRM is oppressive, as it is another case of the studios trying to dictate their terms to us with electronic shackles.

Furthermore (with respect), this 'the market will dictate the pricing' crap went out the window years ago. Please explain to me how the cost of CD production has gone down over the years, but the relative price per CD has shot up. We are not talking about a finite resource here like oil.

The vast majority of my artist mates scrape by while the Music Execs live the champagne lifestyle. Big Music own the market and any sort of fair deal for the average consumer gets stomped on, hence the backlash with torrents.

I will continue to use the iTunes store, but I guess I will have to search harder for cheaper tracks. Which sucks.

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post #31 of 64
So basically if you like real music you'll save money.
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post #32 of 64
^^

Yep!
post #33 of 64
I wonder why they aren't making such attempts to remove DRM from the movies and TV shows. If DRM is bad then it's bad on all purchases. I bought some TV shows off itunes and I can't even play them on my desktop without a Quicktime upgrade. Then I have to authorize and deauthorize machines. I would buy more stuff from itunes but there's just no point if that's the hassle I have to go through.
post #34 of 64
This is bad.

Remember people

1) Audio CD @ 1 CD = 80min of audio + case + album art + lyrics etc + shipping and the rest

2) ACC/MP3 CD @ 1 CD = 10hrs of audio + a sever + bandwidth

On quality alone we are being ripped off nearly 10 times.

In OZ its 1) $25 vs 2) $19. That's not $2.50 for a 10th the data, let alone reduced costs of production and shipping, let alone NO lyrics, NO art and NO ownership.

Would you willingly pay a few dollars less for a book if it only had 1 in 10 pages, no cover and you had no right to transfer ownership. No you wouldn't buy it all.

The music industry cry baby tactics are a Con as we all happily get converted over to crap quality at higher prices (relative to quality)

In such conditions it is appropriate to "rip" 9 albums for every one you buy as a digital download just to balance the lie.

NOW it just got worse. Charge us more for the same less. CRAP
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post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I wonder why they aren't making such attempts to remove DRM from the movies and TV shows. If DRM is bad then it's bad on all purchases. I bought some TV shows off itunes and I can't even play them on my desktop without a Quicktime upgrade. Then I have to authorize and deauthorize machines. I would buy more stuff from itunes but there's just no point if that's the hassle I have to go through.

That's gonna be hard. It seems that TV studios do not care a bit about viewer/customer satisfaction. Or quality, for that matter. Otherwise they wouldn't cancel Emmy-winning shows. (I'm still angry about Pushing Daisies being canceled.)
post #36 of 64
Wifi was switched off in the first 15 seconds after iPhone had come into my hands. Still have no any vaguest idea of when and how might it be useful on the go. The only place where I saw 3G (Orange) disappear was in the heart of the national park, everywhere else it is with me. So I'd appreciate the decision in that part.
The easiness of Apple Store kills the intention to pirate itself imho. It does not make big difference 1.19 or .79. For those money I will not put any efforts to search in do-not-know-where and to pirate music instead of clicking 2 buttons...
Tougher problem is I am not musical fashion victim and do not even try to catch everything new and hot... On the contrary, the store does not offer lot of old lovely things... Yet, this is not the reason for stealing...

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post #37 of 64
I hope Apple keeps resisting so that I can keep buying albums on Amazon UK for £3 a pop.
post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post

I hope Apple hasn't given in on variable pricing, because you can bet the average price of songs will go up. Anything popular (both new and old hits) will be significantly more than $1. Only old songs that have very few takers will be priced under $1.

And I'm sure pricing on Amazon will mysteriously match Apple's pricing the next day.

The only 'winners' for this is the big music cartel. Everybody else (namely Artists and Customers) lose.

You do realize that Apple has had a limited form of variable pricing for at least 2 years now?
post #39 of 64
Is this what has Andy all in a lather? Only this? He needs his sense of excitement meter tweaked a bit then. Yawn.
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post #40 of 64
This is absolutely the best news! Now programs like Simplify Media can work without a hitch and I can share my music with my friends and family.
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