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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,584member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 63
    adamwadamw Posts: 114guest
    This is good news! Free up those tracks for legal purchasers of music.
  • Reply 3 of 63
    This would make Andy Ihnatko smile and fist pump, if anything would.
  • Reply 4 of 63
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 63
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    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
  • Reply 6 of 63
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    Great on both counts, especially if there is a free upgrade to DRM free for existing songs/albums.
  • Reply 7 of 63
    cory bauercory bauer Posts: 1,286member
    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?
  • Reply 8 of 63
    heyjpheyjp Posts: 39member
    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
  • Reply 9 of 63
    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).
  • Reply 10 of 63
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 63
    ...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!
  • Reply 12 of 63
    bwikbwik Posts: 562member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 63
    msnlymsnly Posts: 378member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 63
    wobegonwobegon Posts: 764member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 63
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 63
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 63
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 63
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 63
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 63
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,141member
    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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