iTunes Store Goes DRM Free

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

  • Reply 1 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 66
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    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.)
  • Reply 4 of 66
    Nice being able to upgrade OTA. But I wanted more iPhone things. Congrats to all that's getting the MBP.
  • Reply 5 of 66
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 66
    walshbjwalshbj Posts: 864member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 66
    rokkenrokken Posts: 236member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 66
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 66
    robb01robb01 Posts: 148member
    Woot!

    __________

  • Reply 10 of 66
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    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).
  • Reply 11 of 66
    walshbjwalshbj Posts: 864member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 66
    akf2000akf2000 Posts: 223member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 66
    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?
  • Reply 14 of 66
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,218member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 66
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 66
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 66
    walshbjwalshbj Posts: 864member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 66
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    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).
  • Reply 19 of 66
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 66
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    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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