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iTunes Store Goes DRM Free

post #1 of 67
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While bowing to studio pressure to offer variable pricing on iTunes tracks, Apple has also finally convinced all the big labels to release their music as DRM-free 'iTunes Plus' tracks at the same 99 cents.

Currently, 8 million tracks are available as DRM-free iTunes Plus songs, with 2 million more DRM-free songs slated to become available by the end of the quarter. That will make all of iTunes' 10 million tracks DRM-free, the largest music store library on Earth. Apple will also offer an easy upgrade for users to the new iTunes Plus tracks.

Apple also announced the new capacity for iPhone 3G users to download songs over the 3G mobile network, in addition to the WiFi downloads that were formerly the only way to access iTunes from the mobile. There is no extra charge for downloading tracks over the mobile network, as there is with some other services.

Starting in April 2009, studios will be able to release songs on iTunes at three different prices: 69 cents for back catalog tracks, 99 cents for standard songs, and $1.29 for new or popular releases. Apple has staunchly resisted multiple track prices in the past in order to keep music in iTunes priced simply and consistently. Music labels have just as stubbornly pushed for multiple pricing tiers.

In a press release, Apple noted that all four major music labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, "along with thousands of independent labels, are now offering their music in iTunes Plus, Apple's DRM-free format with higher- quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings."

Apple also conceded that "beginning in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, with most albums still priced at $9.99."

"We are thrilled to be able to offer our iTunes customers DRM-free iTunes Plus songs in high quality audio and our iPhone 3G customers the ability to download music from iTunes anytime, anywhere over their 3G network at the same price as downloading to your computer or via Wi-Fi," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, in the statement. "And in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points -- 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29 -- with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29."

At Macworld Expo, Apple's Phil Schiller noted that the iTunes Store is the world's most popular online music, TV and movie store, ahead of WalMart, BestBuy, Amazon, Target, and other retailers. The store boasts a catalog of "over 10 million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films including over 600 in stunning high definition video."
post #2 of 67
I looked around, and nobody specified whether this applies only to the U.S. or to other countries as well. As a Canadian, I'd like to know. I'm at work, so I can't check the Canadian iTunes store.
post #3 of 67
Also, I find it interesting that Apple compromised on tiered pricing. It's not a total surrender, but it's a compromise from Apple's die-hard one price only stance.
post #4 of 67
From Apple.com:

It’s also easy to upgrade your iTunes library to iTunes Plus. You don’t have to buy the song or album again. Just pay the 30¢ per song upgrade price. (Music video upgrades are 60¢ and entire albums can be upgraded for 30 percent of the album price.)
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post #5 of 67
Nice being able to upgrade OTA. But I wanted more iPhone things. Congrats to all that's getting the MBP.
post #6 of 67
Since I tend to only purchase music made in the ‘60s thru ‘80s, this lower pricing, and higher-quality will benefit someone like me. For those folks who are into Top 40 music, I feel they will find the $1.29 price acceptable. At the very least, audio quality is improved, and the DRM headaches will be gone.
post #7 of 67
What happens if I upgrade to Plus now and then more songs are made available as Plus between now and the end of the quarter? How long will this offer be available?

After seeing Wal-mart turn off their DRM servers I wouldn't want to leave the DRM on. Especially if you have a significant amount of music.
post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

Also, I find it interesting that Apple compromised on tiered pricing. It's not a total surrender, but it's a compromise from Apple's die-hard one price only stance.

I suspect they have to give in, otherwise they would probably have to withdraw from the European market.
post #9 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

What happens if I upgrade to Plus now and then more songs are made available as Plus between now and the end of the quarter? How long will this offer be available?

After seeing Wal-mart turn off their DRM servers I wouldn't want to leave the DRM on. Especially if you have a significant amount of music.

It is always available, that is how it has been done since the beginning of iTunes Plus. So you have to periodically check back once in awhile to see if new tracks in your library are available for upgrade.

It is going to take awhile too. My first batch of songs to be upgraded only total 63 songs, a few albums, and some music video. So I might have to check back once in awhile to see if iTunes have checked my song purchases for more upgrades. But this is AWESOME NEWS!

Just received the iTunes email and downloading my upgrade of 128 items. If you purchased an album, rather than individual song, it will count the album as 1 item, rather than each song. I will have to browse my library after the upgrade to see if more upgrades may be available in the near future.
post #10 of 67
Woot!
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post #11 of 67
Apple is going to dominate the music retail business even more thoroughly than it already does. IMHO, this means that the music industry is now totally reliant on Apple.

They tried to get Amazon to be a competitor of Apple by giving them DRM free songs that Apple lacked, and it didn't really work out that well.

http://www.electronista.com/articles....market.share/

It wouldn't surprise me if a year from now there are only three places you can buy music - CDs at Amazon and Wal-Mart, and iTunes for downloads. I don't think that the other music download places will survive. Amazon will kill the other book sellers, and Apple will kill the other music sellers - 5 years from now the CD will be dead and Apple will own the music industry (and not just the music retailing industry, the whole recorded music industry).
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post #12 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

It is always available, that is how it has been done since the beginning of iTunes Plus. So you have to periodically check back once in awhile to see if new tracks in your library are available for upgrade.

It is going to take awhile too. My first batch of songs to be upgraded only total 63 songs, a few albums, and some music video. So I might have to check back once in awhile to see if iTunes have checked my song purchases for more upgrades. But this is AWESOME NEWS!

Thanks for the info.
post #13 of 67
I just downloaded a song OTA in the UK on 3G with O2.

I first chose a 10min track but iTunes said the max. file size for 3G is 10MB, so I tried a shorter track and that worked.
post #14 of 67
I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?
post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?

Yeah sorta. My plan will be to pay to update the songs I really care about and then hack the others to DRM free. No worries here really in fact now that Apple is moving to DRM free they have no incentive to break DRM strippers in future iTunes updates.
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post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

Anyone else feel the same way?

No - your beef is with the Music publishing industry, not with Apple. Apple doesn't make much (if any) profit from iTunes, and have to re-coup their costs for this additional work somehow (2nd download, double storage, changes to the iTunes software, etc). It wasn't their idea to put DRM in in the first place, and the Music publishers forced them to keep the DRM.
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post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

I looked around, and nobody specified whether this applies only to the U.S. or to other countries as well. As a Canadian, I'd like to know. I'm at work, so I can't check the Canadian iTunes store.

International.
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post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

...Apple is going to dominate the music retail business even more thoroughly than it already does. IMHO, this means that the music industry is now totally reliant on Apple.

They tried to get Amazon to be a competitor of Apple by giving them DRM free songs that Apple lacked, and it didn't really work out that well...

iTunes rolled right through that failed tactic. Amazon had cheaper, DRM-free music and people stuck with iTunes.

It says a lot that people weren't willing to make a couple extra clicks at Amazon. I know their music store dropped music into iTunes and all that - but I've never been a fan of the Amazon interface. I still buy way too much stuff from Amazon.
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

iTunes rolled right through that failed tactic. Amazon had cheaper, DRM-free music and people stuck with iTunes.

It says a lot that people weren't willing to make a couple extra clicks at Amazon. I know their music store dropped music into iTunes and all that - but I've never been a fan of the Amazon interface. I still buy way too much stuff from Amazon.

Me too - I buy things on Amazon pretty much exclusively, but I would never buy downloaded music from them. Might as well buy and burn the CD if you are going to do something out of the ordinary (i.e. not using iTunes).
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post #20 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

No - your beef is with the Music publishing industry, not with Apple. Apple doesn't make much (if any) profit from iTunes, and have to re-coup their costs for this additional work somehow (2nd download, double storage, changes to the iTunes software, etc). It wasn't their idea to put DRM in in the first place, and the Music publishers forced them to keep the DRM.

You may be correct. I'd like to know who gets the extra $.30. Consider the billions of songs that have been downloaded and multiply that roughly .25 (not every song will get upgraded nor be eligible...) and you can see how much money is at stake here. I think it is a $1.5B windfall, once again at the expense of the music buyer. To me, it is much like upgrading the same album from LP to tape to CD to digital download. I paid the artist royalties and the company their share the first time. I should only have to pay the production cost for the new medium after that. I suspect in this case the actual per track cost to go from Fairplay to DRM-free is less than a penny per track. Instead, I'll have to pay an additional 1/3 of the sale price of the track for a track I already own.
post #21 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

It wouldn't surprise me if a year from now there are only three places you can buy music - CDs at Amazon and Wal-Mart, and iTunes for downloads.

You forgot "Street-vendor in Shanghai". So instead of just three places, maybe four . . . million.
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post #22 of 67
This 3G stuff would be great news . . . if AT&T would put 3G in where I live. EDGE is ridiculous!

Also, I love the huge number of statements by Steve Jobs coming out today. He may not be presenting
in person, but the message I'm getting is "He's still running the show!"
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post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?

Originally when iTunes Plus arrived, the tracks were $1.29, so you paid the .30 difference to upgrade. Now that they are .99 cents, does kinda suck that you still have to pay the .30.

How about this, I just bought two CD's over the weekend, and now have to pay again to upgrade the album. Oh well, I am getting a better quality track, so who cares. Still cheaper than Best Buy.
post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Yeah sorta. My plan will be to pay to update the songs I really care about and then hack the others to DRM free. No worries here really in fact now that Apple is moving to DRM free they have no incentive to break DRM strippers in future iTunes updates.

Good luck with that. You can only upgrade the entire library, not individual songs.
post #25 of 67
I think Apple were always right about the variable pricing and the music companies were always wrong. Having a single price always gave me the confidence to make casual purchases knowing I was paying a fixed price. Now, every time I see some music at the higher, premium price, I will feel a little cheated and this will create a little speed-bump before I hit the BUY button. I think the music industry are their own worst enemies and don't know their industry. That's why they gave it away to pirates in the first place and Steve Jobs saved their lazy asses by showing you can sell electronically and legally and people will still pay.

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post #26 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

You may be correct. I'd like to know who gets the extra $.30.

Apple said that they operate the iTunes store at just a little above break even, and they get 0.30 on each song sold, so that is the reason that they have to charge $.30 for the re-download (because otherwise they would be out that $.30). The 30 cents is not extra profit, it pays for the costs of the download.
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post #27 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

Also, I find it interesting that Apple compromised on tiered pricing. It's not a total surrender, but it's a compromise from Apple's die-hard one price only stance.

Yeah, but it was probably inevitable. However, I think it's a good compromise. The 0.69. 0.99, and 1.29 are set tiers; and I presume there would need to be some negotiations invovled to be able to change them. At least the labels don't have free reign to set whatever prices they want. If that had been the case, you know they wouldn't have stopped at $1.29 as the top price tier!

I'm not at home right now to check, does anyone know if you can upgrade the free songs that Apple gives away every week? I've got quite a few of those, but in the past with EMI songs I couldn't pay the 0.30 to upgrade one when it became available as iTunes Plus. You had to pay the full price. Not a huge deal since it was free to begin with, but just curious.
post #28 of 67
Does the end of DRM mean that we'll be able to sync one iPod with several computers?
post #29 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?

I understand where you are coming from but it was your decision to buy lots of music with DRM on it. Also you are getting something for the money, you are getting all your music in higher quality files.

Look at it this way. If when you bought your music for $.99 you could pay a few cents more per track and be guaranteed a download of a DRM free file later, you probably would have gone for it. Then you would be here crowing to everyone about how you were going to get an all new music library for free.

I agree it's a bit of a bummer, but it's not really unexpected, and it really depends on how you look at it as to whether it depresses you or not.
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post #30 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by dionysius View Post

Does the end of DRM mean that we'll be able to sync one iPod with several computers?

Great question. I would be tickled pink if this comes true. When I'm sitting at my desk at work I'm forced to have to reach behind me to get to my iPhone and change tracks.
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post #31 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by dionysius View Post

Does the end of DRM mean that we'll be able to sync one iPod with several computers?

No, you are still not supposed to steal other music just because the DRM is removed. If they are your own computers and the same library is on each one, the iPod won't know the difference. But you can't go to your friend's house, plug in, and steal all his music and him take yours.
post #32 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?

Yes.

It sucks that if you bought a song last year, last month or last week it now costs you 30¢ more if you want it to be higher quality & DRM free. I understand that Apple can't just let people re-download the songs for free, but the 30¢ fee is a little obnoxious, especially since you can ONLY upgrade ALL your eligible songs at once. Rather than pick and choose the songs you would really want to upgrade and lay off the ones that you'd rather not, you have to upgrade them all in one lump.

The other day the cost to upgrade my library would have been $29. Today it's $55. And as time goes on and they rotate out all the other songs I've bought it would wind up costing me around $250. That's ridiculous. I'd love to upgrade some of the things I've bought off of iTunes, bit by bit. But not with that pricetag...
post #33 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?

Sucker. Stop whining. You should have bought the CD, ripped it, then given it away to friends or charity like everybody else.
post #34 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I understand where you are coming from but it was your decision to buy lots of music with DRM on it. Also you are getting something for the money, you are getting all your music in higher quality files.

Look at it this way. If when you bought your music for $.99 you could pay a few cents more per track and be guaranteed a download of a DRM free file later, you probably would have gone for it. Then you would be here crowing to everyone about how you were going to get an all new music library for free.

I agree it's a bit of a bummer, but it's not really unexpected, and it really depends on how you look at it as to whether it depresses you or not.

In the great scheme of things, I think it is the $.30 more per track that irks me. That's a 30% premium for the privilege of having legally purchased my music rather than pirating it like so many others have. There is no possible way that it is costing Apple or the music industry an additional $.30 each to provide me that track. If it did, they wouldn't be selling it to everyone who purchases it today for $.99. Honestly, I feel like we are being taken advantage of, that we are paying for the losses they believe they have taken that have occured because of their (the music industries...) ridiculuous policies. They refuse to accept that the music world has changed, that we aren't interested in purchasing albums full of songs that we don't want versus the individual tracks that we do and that, given the oppportunity and convenience, (most?) people will legally buy music rather than pirate it if they feel like they are treated fairly. This is an instance where I don't feel like we are being treated fairly... DRM-free = good; $.30 cents/track = much less good
post #35 of 67
Does anyone know if upgrading to DRM-Free music will then allow others to access those songs in itunes via Simpliy Media? That is all I'm really wondering...
post #36 of 67
I wonder if this move will bring AC/DC to iTunes?
post #37 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

In the great scheme of things, I think it is the $.30 more per track that irks me. That's a 30% premium for the privilege of having legally purchased my music rather than pirating it like so many others have. There is no possible way that it is costing Apple or the music industry an additional $.30 each to provide me that track. If it did, they wouldn't be selling it to everyone who purchases it today for $.99. Honestly, I feel like we are being taken advantage of, that we are paying for the losses they believe they have taken that have occured because of their (the music industries...) ridiculuous policies. They refuse to accept that the music world has changed, that we aren't interested in purchasing albums full of songs that we don't want versus the individual tracks that we do and that, given the oppportunity and convenience, (most?) people will legally buy music rather than pirate it if they feel like they are treated fairly. This is an instance where I don't feel like we are being treated fairly... DRM-free = good; $.30 cents/track = much less good

To be fair, don't you download a new track with double the bitrate? So there are costs associated with hosting these new files and you are getting a better quality product then you initially paid for.
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post #38 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by anderson04 View Post

Does anyone know if upgrading to DRM-Free music will then allow others to access those songs in itunes via Simpliy Media? That is all I'm really wondering...

It sure does. I just tried it out.
post #39 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdhayes117 View Post

I'm somewhat chapped that we have to pay extra for something that those who purchase now get for no additional cost. Over the last several years, I have legally purchased several hundred $s worth of music from iTunes. Now, to make my music DRM-free, I have to pay another $100+ for tracks that, if I bought them today, would cost me nothing additional. I get no new music, just slightly higher quality and no (always undesired...) copy protection. Although I have had the use of those tracks during that time, Apple has had the use of my funds so I think we should be considered even... If anything, I think those who previously purchased should be rewarded for supporting legal music acquisition. I'd be satisfied if that reward was the ability to remove my copy protection at no additional cost.

Anyone else feel the same way?

So goes the march of progress. Don't cry over spilled iTunes purchases.

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post #40 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by beef View Post

I wonder if this move will bring AC/DC to iTunes?

Or you could just buy their CDs at Walmart and rip 'em.

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