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Steve Jobs Announces (some) DRM-free iTunes

Hemos posted about 7 years ago | from the about-time dept.

Music 838

Fjan11 writes "Steve Jobs just announced that starting next month on you can buy higher quality 256Kbps AAC encoded DRM-free versions of iTunes songs for $1.29. Upgrades to songs you've already bought will be available at the $0.30 price difference. Currently EMI is the only publisher participating, accounting for about 20% of the songs available." There's also reports from Reuters and ABC News. The deal excludes the Beatles. You can also read the official press release from Apple if you still think this a late joke; this story confirms earlier speculation.

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838 comments

Good job everyone! (4, Interesting)

AchiIIe (974900) | about 7 years ago | (#18572847)

If you were one of the thousands of bloggers/netcitizens demanding DRM free music, give yourself a hand. This is a win for us.

Re:Good job everyone! (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 7 years ago | (#18573033)

It's not a win unless you reward them with your custom. Better buy now.

Re:Good job everyone! (5, Insightful)

Admiral Ag (829695) | about 7 years ago | (#18573211)

The real winner here is Apple, and the potential big loser is Microsoft. This may well kill Windows Media as a digital audio format.

Think about it... If all the labels offer their music DRM free by the end of the year, then what incentive is there for any online music store, except for the Zune store, to offer music in Windows Media format, given that the iPod is incompatible with WMA and represents about 80% of the target market.

There simply isn't any reason for an online music store that isn't owned by Microsoft to offer downloads that are incompatible with around about 80% of the devices that people own.

More to the point. Microsoft is only offering the Zune as a means of pushing its own audio format. Yet even Zune customers will be now able to play DRM free tracks from the iTMS. Microsoft has just caught up to the idea that you have to have a closed system to succeed (which was never the case, as Jobs' said in his letter a couple of months back), and now they will have to go home and think again.

Steve Jobs has just succeeded in the first step of completely destroying Microsoft's music strategy, and no-one seems to have noticed. He must be chuckling to himself.

Wait a Minute (2, Interesting)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about 7 years ago | (#18573037)

DRM is *very expensive to produce. There's the R&D costs, programming, buying up congresspeople. How is the DRM going to make a profit if their product's marginal utility (apparently) is -$.30?

Re:Wait a Minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573099)

Simply because $0.30 really adds up when you consider how many songs usse it and how many people buy all of those songs.

Re:Wait a Minute (5, Insightful)

Itchy Rich (818896) | about 7 years ago | (#18573195)

How is the DRM going to make a profit if their product's marginal utility (apparently) is -$.30?

Without DRM there'd be far less excuse to charge extra for the DRM-free version. The $1.30 version will subsidise the $1 DRM-encumbered version.

It's a bit like the way the supermarkets virtually wiped out tastier (but odd-looking) varieties of fruit and veg for cosmetic reasons. They're then selling them back to us as luxury items now we're used to eating the pretty (but tasteless) varieties.

Re:Good job everyone! (1, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18573061)

It's a win? Paying more money to get what you should get in the first place?

So a DRM-free downloaded album is now going to cost, what - $13 or more? Is that 30 cents really going to offset the supposed rampant copying and sharing that a DRM-free copy would allow or cause? I doubt it.

What's next, a 30 percent increase in your cable bill if you want to be allowed to Tivo content or to allow you to record it with a DVR that is not of the Tivo brand?

I wouldn't pay a dollar for a downloaded copy of a song. I'm sure as hell not going to pay a dollar thirty. For that price - or less - I could buy a physical CD and rip it.

Re:Good job everyone! (5, Informative)

superm401 (828851) | about 7 years ago | (#18573103)

Actually, albums are the same price, DRM or not. Only individual songs have the surcharge. Can't understand the logic, but I prefer albums anyway.

Re:Good job everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573187)

The logic is on favouring purchase of albums, where the industry gets higher profits. You know, if you record an album and only one song is popular (which is often the case), this way people are more probably buying the whole album, and if they only buy the one popular song, at least you get a bit more $$$...

Re:Good job everyone! (1)

mikeisme77 (938209) | about 7 years ago | (#18573153)

The 30 cents not only buys you a DRM free version, but also a higher quality version. So you pay 30 cents for twice the bit rate and no DRM. I, personally, think it's a decent deal.

Re:Good job everyone! (4, Interesting)

sgant (178166) | about 7 years ago | (#18573337)

no pleasing some people. If they offered it at the same price, they'd still complain that not ALL the music on iTunes is DRM free. Once they do that, then they'd complain about the .99 cents saying it's too much.

If Apple gave away the music for free in FLAC or Apple Lossless people would STILL complain ("these files are too big...etc etc").

Again, no pleasing some people. Even though you could buy the full album at the higher bitrate AND it being DRM free AND it's still cheaper than buying the physical CD. pfft....

Re:Good job everyone! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573091)

It's a good start, but I will not rest until App$e offers music for a fair price, such as $0.0001 per track. Only then will the music truly be free.

Re:Good job everyone! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 7 years ago | (#18573145)

It is a step in the right direction but.
Why does it cost more without DRM? Why does it cost more than buying the album?
By going digital the record companies don't need to press CDs, Print covers, buy jewel cases, ship CDs to stores, take back unsold CDs.... Why does it cost more to buy a digital copy on-line than at the store?
I might still buy some if they have anything I like and don't have on CD but it still seems like a ripe off.

Alright Slashdot... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18572849)

.. everyone who wanted DRM-free music put your money where your mouth is!

Re:Alright Slashdot... (3, Funny)

Carthag (643047) | about 7 years ago | (#18573065)

Yeah but it's not ogg, and the iTunes Music Store is propietary (what's with not being allowed to run your own iTMS????) and ...

Re:Alright Slashdot... (0)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | about 7 years ago | (#18573251)

Hey troll, AAC is an open format. Even my cellphone supports AAC. The files come with NO proprietary DRM wrapper.

Re:Alright Slashdot... (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18573113)

Oh, trust me. I do! I put it into places that have always provided me with a variety of non-DRM content before this. And usually for far less. I'll listen to recordings of grade school kids banging on their desks with pencils before I'll pay more for DRM-free content.

Re:Alright Slashdot... (2, Informative)

wrook (134116) | about 7 years ago | (#18573225)

I definitely would... except...

I can't run itunes on my computer (maybe it works under Wine? I haven't tried that).

But the more important issue is... I'm currently interested in Japanese bands and they don't seem to want to sell this to me in Canada. I would literally jump at the chance to buy music, DRM free, at $1.20 per song. Shipping the damn CD's into Canada costs me a mint. Luckily I can bundle it with my manga purchases, but I'm still looking at close to $30 for most CDs (each) to get it here.

So until Sony/BMG (the distributor that distributes most of the music I listen to) gets their head out of their ass, there's little I can do :-( Maybe if I pirate more music they will try to sell it to me (fat chance!) But if I continue to buy it the way I am, they will *never* try to sell it to me another way. Man... the record companies suck...

Re:Alright Slashdot... (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 7 years ago | (#18573311)

I put my money into pawn shops for $2 cd's. Those poor starbing artists and record companies. How dare I circumvent their royalties. Oh wait its my money.

New prices (0, Troll)

Half a dent (952274) | about 7 years ago | (#18572871)

So you can pay more for the service that you should have had in the first place? What a bargain.

But to be fair a step in the right direction.

Re:New prices (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 7 years ago | (#18572963)

So you can pay more for the service that you should have had in the first place?

Uh, no? Jobs isn't stupid. As the summary says, these files are encoded at a much higher bitrate. So what you're really paying more for is higher quality files. Of course, you could get higher quality files on anti-DRM principles, but the result is still the same: You get twice the "standard" bitrate for about 30% more. You can decide for yourself if that's a deal or not.

Re:New prices (0, Flamebait)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18573183)

They want me to pay about the same price of a full retail CD that I could rip to whatever bitrate I like without DRM, but for a lower quality digital version in a proprietary format? Boy, I can't wait. Sign me up.

If they're charging for the bitrate and lack of DRM, then they should start selling physical CDs for about $85.

This is nothing more than punching you in the testicles and then charging you to make me stop. Or, at least, to punch softer.

Re:New prices (1)

HugePedlar (900427) | about 7 years ago | (#18573213)

Sounds like a good deal at first, and maybe it is.

But where does the extra money go? Does it go towards Apple's bandwidth bill? Or does it go straight to EMI's coffers? We know Apple gets pennies per download, so I suspect the latter.

The question is then: Is it fair to give more money to the record company for something that costs them nothing to produce and distribute?

I have to wonder at the reasoning for the price increase. Maybe it's simply that they're greedy, and think they can get away with it. If so, fair enough, you bastards. Maybe Someone secretly wants DRM-free music to fail, but doesn't want to be accused of price-gouging for the sake of it, so they throw in a quality carrot.

I guess my point is: The price increase isn't justified by what they're offering - we're giving EMI more money for a service that Apple's providing. If the extra money goes to Apple, then I'm wrong. But I suspect I'm not.

Re:New prices (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | about 7 years ago | (#18573217)

Yeah. What a draw - 256Kbps. Strange that they don't offer the higher bitrate without the no-DRM option - almost like Jobs is trying to muddy the waters, draw attention from this... err... frank admission that "Fairplay" is not a benefit to the consumer, it's actually just crippling a product so it can't be used properly, and customers will pay to do without it.

This is pretty smart though - if this is Jobs manouvering to destroy the record companies case for DRM, it's a very nicely calculated move, taking EMI who are in financial difficulty and using them as a wedge to split the industry... I wonder if he would have done this without the intervention of Norway and the EU?

Re:New prices (2)

thejeffer (864748) | about 7 years ago | (#18573273)

Here's where that doesn't quite work though. The record companies have been trying to pound it into our heads for years that we're not buying a song, we're buying a license to listen to that song. If that's the case, then we should ALREADY have the right to listen to a higher quality encoded version of the song. Yes, I'm well aware that the record companies will say that you only purchased a license to listen to that specific lower-quality encoding of the song, but let's be honest, that's pure crap. Quit re-selling us the same stuff we already purchased! If there's some huge cost associated with re-formatting the material, then fine, charge a nominal fee. But in this case, the files were most likely encoded at higher bit-rates long ago.

Re:New prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573045)

The cost is the record labels trying to compensate for what they perceive will be an increase in piracy.  Not that you can't find any song imaginable already, why would you bother buying a song just to then go and pirate it.  Not to mention the risk of iTunes embedding identifying information in their non-drm songs.  They already do this with purchased DRM songs.

Re:New prices (2, Insightful)

ClaraBow (212734) | about 7 years ago | (#18573049)

From the story: Consumers will pay a higher price for the premium singles, but the same price for albums either with or without the copy protection software.

I think this is a good deal for people like me who like to buy the whole album instead of singles. We get higher quality at the same price without being locked-in.

re: paying more? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 7 years ago | (#18573365)

Makes perfect sense to me, in the "big picture" scheme of things. As another poster said, Jobs isn't stupid. This price increase is at just the right price-point to where it doesn't seem like you're paying "a lot more" for these DRM-free, higher-bitrate tracks, yet it's a significant enough increase to potentially give a big boost to EMI's sales figures of purchases made from the iTunes store. Give this a little while, and then watch as analysts start comparing the relative quarterly profits of EMI vs. the other record labels selling on iTunes who still embrace DRM.

It's going to be a powerful incentive for others to switch when they look at the dollar figures and say "Woah! EMI is kicking our butt in sales!"

Re:New prices (3, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | about 7 years ago | (#18573389)

Yeah, it's important to have some perspective here. You can argue till your face turns blue that DRM doesn't work/doesn't make sense/is evil/whatever, but the reality of it is that there are people out there with different opinions. And a bunch of those people are old businessmen who run big companies that see, over the horizon, the end of the business model on which they've built their little empires and made their fortunes.

It's easy for you as a consumer or a musician to argue for the new "music economy" because you have little to lose and much to gain. A lot of these big record companies have plenty to lose. You might be able to make an argument that with the right business savvy and some smart decisions that they have a lot to gain as well, but nothing is guaranteed, and big companies tend to be risk adverse.

The point is, if the general /. mentality is correct, and DRM is not a workable solution, then the market will flesh that out and we can all get on with our lives. But to expect and preach anti-DRM like the heavens will open up and everyone will see the light and hold hands and all DRM will disappear tomorrow is not only unrealistic, it makes you look silly.

Baby steps are what we should expect and really hope for. Each sign of progress should be a reason for celebration, not a bitch session about everything you still don't like about the music industry. Yay for steps in the right direction!

American way... Super size (4, Funny)

vision33r (829872) | about 7 years ago | (#18572999)

Just like McDonalds you can Super size for $0.30 more that gives you more than you actually need to consume.

Re:American way... Super size (1)

dasnipa (972400) | about 7 years ago | (#18573131)

that statement doesnt apply at all... 256 encoding is far better than lower rates many music enthusiasts would find that to still be a little low for their tastes.

30 cent copyright levy (-1, Troll)

Frankie70 (803801) | about 7 years ago | (#18573013)

I guess the 30 cents being charged gives you the
right to make copies & distribute it to family
& friends. That's what you are paying extra for.

Re:30 cent copyright levy (1)

scifience (674659) | about 7 years ago | (#18573107)

No, it isn't what you're paying for at all. You are paying for a 256kbps file instead of a 128kbps one and the extra bandwidth and distribution costs associated with higher quality files.

Re:30 cent copyright levy (4, Insightful)

bilbravo (763359) | about 7 years ago | (#18573123)

No, it doesn't. As others (who have read the article) said, the .30 price increase is due to the doubled bitrate. It might be a convenient cop-out, but it still doesn't give anyone the right to distribute the file.

Re:30 cent copyright levy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573271)

No, you get the ability to make copies, not the right. That and, as others have pointed out, higher quality recordings.

Ehhhh screw beatles then (0, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#18573039)

let them be a relic of the past, if they dont get along well with what the current day extensions if "68' revolution" that they have so happily joined, brings.

and again, kudos to emi, and steve jobs and apple crowd.

The Beatles Never Gave the Album Away for Free (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 7 years ago | (#18573115)

I don't think the Beatles or their heirs are doing anything radically different from the 60s, at least in terms of business. They are still charging for music.

Re:The Beatles Never Gave the Album Away for Free (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#18573285)

Without DRM crap they still will be charging for their music. They just wont be FORCING people to listen to their music only in one device in their home. forcing, is something that is contradictory with 68', btw.

Albums go for 9.99$/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573053)

The article forgets to mention that full albums will still be 9.99. So for album buyers, this is even better news.

$9.99 Albums will be 256kbps/DRM Free (5, Informative)

scifience (674659) | about 7 years ago | (#18573063)

I didn't see it mentioned in a brief look at the articles above, but albums will automatically be 256kbps and DRM free at the normal price. This should help encourage album sales. Ideally, they would offer the lower quality songs without DRM as well, but this is undoubtedly prevented by their current contracts with the other labels. Only by offering a new "product" were they able to remove the DRM. This is the same reason that they are unable to remove the DRM from songs released by indie labels that requested no DRM.

Re:$9.99 Albums will be 256kbps/DRM Free (1)

Nasarius (593729) | about 7 years ago | (#18573175)

Okay, that's pretty cool. I still won't buy anything from iTunes I can get on CD (locally or via GEMM/Amazon, I pay $1-12). There's an iTunes-only David Poe live EP I'll buy just as soon as the iTMS is no longer Slashdotted.

Re:$9.99 Albums will be 256kbps/DRM Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573371)

The DRM-free selling will only start in May (see the subtitle and first sentence of Apple's PR [apple.com])

DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (-1, Redundant)

bradavon (1066358) | about 7 years ago | (#18573067)

This is a great first step but I'd still need to convert the music in MP3 before I can do anything with it. The format is still locked to the Ipod, which is entirely the problem! I'll probably buy a song to help move things along but until the format is MP3 it ultimately doesn't change much for me. When next month and which artists? Will this be all ITunes stores or just The States?

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (2, Informative)

scifience (674659) | about 7 years ago | (#18573137)

Since the AAC files are DRM free, you can just transcode to MP3. And there are a number of players which can play AAC, including the recent Sony players. So this in no way keeps you locked into using the iPod only (a point Steve even touched on at the event, saying that Apple wasn't worried about it because they compete based on having the best platform, not based on having people locked into their products).

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573381)

Garbage in, garbage out. Converting between lossy formats will degrade sound quality.

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (2, Informative)

superm401 (828851) | about 7 years ago | (#18573147)

Many portable players actually support AAC. The real problem is with GNU/Linux; AAC's patented, so there's no legal decoding free/open source decoding software. I already asked them to offer Ogg Vorbis. Either way, though, it's a lot better than DRM and I intend to partake..

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (5, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#18573151)

The format is still locked to the Ipod, which is entirely the problem!

Ummm, no it's not. AAC is a fairly standard format (though not as ubiquitous as mp3). Many players out there will play non-DRM'd AAC files with no problem. The Zune comes to mind. Hell, my Samsung phone will play them. This is a good thing all around. And since album prices are staying the same, I can only view this as a good move.

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (1)

UnxMully (805504) | about 7 years ago | (#18573157)

Are you sure? My PSP will play un-DRM'd AAC files as will the music player on my N800.

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 7 years ago | (#18573201)

A couple of other brands will plat AACs, and you can get players for handheld devices.

It will be interesting to see just how many AACs start appearing on the filesharing networks.

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (1)

johnjaydk (584895) | about 7 years ago | (#18573231)

This is a great first step but I'd still need to convert the music in MP3 before I can do anything with it. The format is still locked to the Ipod, which is entirely the problem!

Hey the 90's called. They want their format (mp3) back.

Seriously, AAC is so much better than mp3 that it isn't even funny. Get with the program. There are several free/open AAC implementations. If you don't like your 256kbit AAC then you can easily transcode to whatever you want since it's DRM free.

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (2, Informative)

mgv (198488) | about 7 years ago | (#18573275)

This is a great first step but I'd still need to convert the music in MP3 before I can do anything with it. The format is still locked to the Ipod, which is entirely the problem! I'll probably buy a song to help move things along but until the format is MP3 it ultimately doesn't change much for me. When next month and which artists? Will this be all ITunes stores or just The States?

No, its not just the iPod.

A list of players is available on wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Its a substantial list, and its an open format. Its actually much better than MP3, and at 256 kb/s its probably about the same as a 320 kb/s MP3. In other words, very good quality. Apparently you can even play it on the Zune, although I suspect that the zune will DRM it before transfer. Not that this matters, as pretty much nobody actually has bought a Zune [roughlydrafted.com].

Michael

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | about 7 years ago | (#18573335)

Yes it's locked to an iPod, but only if your audio player of choice doesn't support the open & non-proprietary AAC (and remeber kids, no licensing fee to make a player support AAC vs MP3). Large numbers of phones being made today support AAC. Theres no good reason why companies like Creative & Sandisk don't get on board.

Re:DRM-Free AACs are still locked to Ipods! (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 7 years ago | (#18573395)

I think you are confusing standard AAC with Fairplay. Fairplay is AAC with Apple's DRM applied. AAC itself is an open, non-royalty based standard which was developed to be the successor to MP3. See the wiki article [wikipedia.org]. Many different media programs like WM, RealPlayer, Winamp, and iTunes will play AAC without the need for conversion as well as many MP3 players like the Zune and some cell phones. Sony uses it as the standard audio format for the PS3. If you want to convert to MP3, it can be done but time consuming and you would be decreasing the fidelity. I suspect that eventually most devices will use it instead of MP3 as there are no royalties on it whereas MP3 has a royalty.

Seriously Folks (1)

bheer (633842) | about 7 years ago | (#18573093)

In May, go buy some of EMI's DRM-free catalog. Even better, when the indies get on board, go buy some of their stuff on MP3 as well. Encourage others to ask other labels for DRM-free music. With any luck the RIAA will realize that DRM != Sky falling over their heads.

Also, thanks to all the people and organisations who've worked tirelessly against DRM so far. DRM isn't just bad for customers (cf Stallman's Right-to-read), it's also bad for business. The software companies figured this out in the 1980s, lets hope RIAA (and then the MPAA) do too.

Re:Seriously Folks (0, Troll)

sjwaste (780063) | about 7 years ago | (#18573361)

In other news, the iPod now requires me to plug in a dongle in my parallel port before I can open iTunes and transfer any music. What's that you say? You don't have a parallel port anymore? TOO BAD!

He's finally done it... (3, Insightful)

thomis (136073) | about 7 years ago | (#18573105)

I hereby rescind my Apple-phobia. Jobs has achieved a BIG GOOD THING.
Good on ya, Steve! /you'll still have to pry my iRiver out of my twitching, techno-spazzed fingers.

Re:He's finally done it... (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | about 7 years ago | (#18573287)

Jobs has achieved a BIG GOOD THING.

Really? Did he do a big good thing or did he just make sure he happened to be in the right place at the right time? Remember EMI were talking about doing this [apple.com] before Jobs mentioned it [apple.com].

Trusty Slashdot economic model(tm):

  1. Community [defectivebydesign.org] demands no more DRM
  2. EMI starts running out of cash, so decideds to sell unencumbered mp3's
  3. Jobs turns up in a few places: right place, right time. Makes himself look like he invented the whole idea of dropping DRM
  4. ???
  5. Profit!

Thank yourself, thank the community, thank DefectiveByDesign [defectivebydesign.org] and the FSF, don't thank someone who made sure they were around to claim all the glory from other peoples hard campaigning! Did you see Jobs out on the street with those DefectiveByDesign chaps? No! Because they were all at his shops, putting labels on his products!

What is the justification (4, Insightful)

zeoslap (190553) | about 7 years ago | (#18573111)

So what exactly is their justification for leaving DRM on the $0.99 tracks? It can't be that they are afraid people will release them into the wild if the higher quality tracks are now DRM free, so why not remove it?

Re:What is the justification (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573349)

Steve Jobs said that they "didn't want to force-raise the price on anyone."

Re:What is the justification (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 7 years ago | (#18573351)

So what exactly is their justification for leaving DRM on the $0.99 tracks?
Read the f'ing article, or even the whole post.

Currently EMI is the only publisher participating, accounting for about 20% of the songs available.

They can't just change prices or DRM on a whim, they need to go back to the negotiating table with all of the labels they "stock" and settle on an agreement. Unlike an ordinary brick-and-mortar store that can price however they want (within reason) Apple has to jump through a lot of hoops.

Re:What is the justification (1)

hublan (197388) | about 7 years ago | (#18573369)

I'm sure it's contractual stuff with the record companies. They operate on their own internal logic which doesn't quite match anyone's outside of that circle.

It's a Start! (4, Informative)

Luscious868 (679143) | about 7 years ago | (#18573133)

This is excellent news! I love that they are offering the option to upgrade any previously purchased songs to the 256 kbps DRM free version for 30 cents a track. I plan on upgrading all of my tracks as soon as they are available. While I think that $1.29 is a little bit high for a track without DRM (I'd like to see them for the same price as the version with DRM), it's reasonable enough for me. You get twice the quality and no DRM for 30 cents more a track.

It also appears as if deals with other studios are imminent. From the press release [apple.com] [apple.com]:

"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."

Re:It's a Start! (0)

ImaNihilist (889325) | about 7 years ago | (#18573357)

You do realize that a CD with 15 tracks, at $1.29 a track is going to end up costing you almost $20. That means that some CDs will cost almost TWICE that of their CD counterpart if bought off Amazon. For new CDs that debut at the $15-$20 price point I guess that's fine, but otherwise what a freaking rip off.

A couple points (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 years ago | (#18573135)

First, it's stupid to make it cost more. Second, I tried PureTracks for a while, and having DRM content mixed with non-drm content is a real pain if you are only looking for non-drm content. Finding the non-drm content can be a real pain. I've gone with eMusic for now for my download music needs. It's not the best, but I buy most of my music on CDs anyway.

Rats foiled again.. (0, Flamebait)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#18573141)

you can buy higher quality 256Kbps AAC encoded DRM-free versions of iTunes songs

Because iTunes had DRM, and I don't do DRM, my choice of player did not include the iTunes format. Now that they don't have DRM, I still can't shop there. My player is MP3/non-DRM-WMA. I wonder how long it will be before they move to more popular formats.

I have a feeling that since AAC is a "Protected Patented" format, that P-P sites will be very closely watched for the sudden popularity of AAC files. A sudden rise in the format in P-P may be a good indicator of the amount of non-DRM loss to piracy. Do buying customers pirate? I would also be cautious. The file format may contain a watermark. If your copy is on the net, there could be problems. Keep your eyes open for watermarks or other embeded spying.

Re:Rats foiled again.. (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 7 years ago | (#18573267)

"I wonder how long it will be before they move to more popular formats."

Given that iPods have a 70% share of music players sold, I think Steve Jobs is probably pretty comfortable with the "popularity" of AAC.

Re:Rats foiled again.. (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | about 7 years ago | (#18573301)

Because iTunes had DRM, and I don't do DRM, my choice of player did not include the iTunes format. Now that they don't have DRM, I still can't shop there. My player is MP3/non-DRM-WMA. I wonder how long it will be before they move to more popular formats.

As others have pointed out, there are plenty of players out there other than the iPod that support AAC and you can bet your ass that the number of players that support AAC in the future will skyrocket after this announcement.

This is what I've been waiting for... (2, Interesting)

phayes (202222) | about 7 years ago | (#18573143)

My current music collection is high quality MP3s (192-256Kbit) I've ripped myself which I listen to on Slimboxes connected to quality speakers.
I never bought any music from iTunes because:
- Apple's DRM protected files were too low quality for me to bother with (I would have to rip to CD then reencode to MP3 which usually meant hearable artifacts.)
- DRM meant that the music I bought would never be 100% protected from "upgrades" forced on me by the RIAA (much as Apple already reduced the number of authorized hosts).
- I've already bought the same album in 3 formats: Vinyl, Tape, & CD. I refuse to pay a fourth time unless I am sure that it would be the last time.

I'm not overenthused about the premium over itunes normal pricing, but there appears to be enough goodness in this announce to finally get me onboard.

I wonder (0)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 7 years ago | (#18573165)

Yeeeha! Now, if only I knew who EMI was or listened to mainstream music anymore, then I might buy something! Maybe I'll buy a few songs even if I don't like them, just so I get a chance to vote with my dollars.

<pessimist>I wonder how long before someone spins this and says that the increased sales are due to customers demanding higher-quality files, and that the DRM didn't matter, so they can put the DRM back in and keep selling the songs at the same price.</pessimist>

cojones (5, Interesting)

suzerain (245705) | about 7 years ago | (#18573179)

Man, say what you want about Steve Jobs. He's got a famous temper, he doesn't compromise, he likes closed systems, etc. and so on. But one thing he definitely has is balls, and sometimes we can benefit from it.

So, he apparently finally has convinced one label to drop the DRM, and yes, he's charging more for the content, but he goes and ups the bitrate, just so the content from the non-participating labels looks like shit in comparison. That takes some cojones, and I gotta say, I admire him for that. Could it possibly be that DRM will become one of those horrible memories from the past that we can all suppress? Time will tell, but at least today, I say this is relatively good news.

And, you know..."fuck the RIAA" goes without saying.

Great Steve (0, Offtopic)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 7 years ago | (#18573189)

now maybe you will announce an update to oh I don't know, the computers you sell? Seriously, it has been 5 months since Apple released anything new on the computer end. I could live without AppleTV, iPhone and iTunes, but I really want a new mac!

Off topic kvetch I know, mod me accordingly. And my captcha is "nothing" which is what has come out of Apples computers....

Re:Great Steve (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | about 7 years ago | (#18573373)

2 more weeks and you should have an 8-core Mac Pro as well as a new version of OSX released. Here's to hoping the rumors surrounding the April 15 NAB conference are true.

Re:Great Steve (1)

emor8t (1033068) | about 7 years ago | (#18573375)

Yea, and then maybe they will offer a better graphics card than a 7300gt in a system that costs $2500 too, ot not charge double the retail value of the card to double up. Maybe they will update to a ram faster than 533 or 667 mhz. Maybe they will not charge an arm and a leg for a moderate upgrade in RAM. Maybe Steve didn't actually do anything but be in the right place at the right time. /waits for Bill Gates to kill DRM entirely in the Zune market place.

Yay. (0, Redundant)

HerculesMO (693085) | about 7 years ago | (#18573193)

More money for something that costs Apple less to support.

Sorry, I'm still not seeing a deal. This actually makes it MORE expensive than a CD... and you get no album art either.

Yeah yeah but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573197)

When I can buy lossless SHN or FLAC files at a reasonable price from indie (non-RIAA) labels, then we'll talk.

Online music is priced retardedly rediculous. A buck and a quarter for one three minute song? In lossy compression? With no media or cover art? At the same price as CD?

Are you people on crack?

Sell me a FLAC or SHN file for a dime or a quarter and you might make a sale. Otherwise, keep selling your lossy, no-art, no-media songs to the overpaid retards who you're selling them to now. Those of us who actually EARN our money aren't interested.

-mcgrew (sm62704 w/o p/w, MRC="limited")

A good thing, but... (2, Interesting)

Pirogoeth (662083) | about 7 years ago | (#18573205)

Personally, while I see it as a good thing from different angles (customer: music can be played on any software/player, reseller: Apple makes more money because people will come to them to buy DRM-free tunes, supplier: EMI makes more money from the higher per-song price, artists: still get screwed) I don't see it as jumping for joy news. I'm not much of an audiophile, so the higher quality would probably be lost on me, and I drank the Apple kool-ade years ago, so I'll be using iTunes/iPods forever so the presence of the DRM doesn't really impact me..

Question(s):

1: If you buy music through iTMS, will you spend the extra $$$ for the higher-quality DRM-free versions?

2: Will you spend the $$$ to take up the offer to "upgrade" any existing music you have previously downloaded?

3: How long will it be until major label #2 makes a similar announcement?

Clever, still a SOFT lockin... (-1, Redundant)

nweaver (113078) | about 7 years ago | (#18573221)

Very clever on Apple's part. Since it is still in the AAC format, it acts as a "soft lockin". Yes, savvy users (./ readers, for example) can convert the files to MP3, albeit at the loss of fidelity in the lossy-to-lossy conversion process. But most users won't, so they will still be locked into the Ipod ecology.

Clever.

Re:Clever, still a SOFT lockin... (1)

Afecks (899057) | about 7 years ago | (#18573299)

How dare you suggest Apple has anything other than the noblest intentions. Pistols at dawn sir!

interesting details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573243)

The Press Release gives a few more interesting details... saying they will have their worldwide launch by may, they will have "half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this
year" (probably stemming from the many independents) and "All EMI music videos
will also be available in DRM-free format with no change in price."
http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT= 104&STORY=/www/story/04-02-2007/0004557706&EDATE= [prnewswire.com]

"Consumers will pay a higher price for the premium singles, but the same price for albums either with or without the copy protection software."

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/internet/04/02/emi.ap ple.ap/ [cnn.com]

EMI and iTunes (1)

massysett (910130) | about 7 years ago | (#18573269)

Wow, I'm not surprised that EMI is offering DRM free downloads (it's about time!) but I'm surprised they're partnering with Apple. I thought they'd want to "stick it" to Apple. I guess EMI realizes Apple is the best bet for selling music online.

WaterMarking (5, Interesting)

tecker (793737) | about 7 years ago | (#18573291)

Another advantage of the higher bitrates is the ability to slip in watermarking. Thanks to perfect digital replication the instant this appeared on P2P they could trace the file back to the person that purchased the media.

Think about it. Apple has not released the details of the tracks other then "256kb aac" w/o DRM. They don't say that it will be delayed downloading (rather then the buy, download, listen now) could be "Thanks for purchasing. Your music will arrive shortly in you library and purchased media areas." Then about 5 minutes later the track downloads. And seeing how apple doesn't allow for a redownloading (i think) they simply add the watermarking into the database and delete the track.

EMI find a DRM free version of the music on the internet (Coldplay-Clocks.m4a) and downloads it from people. They compare the watermark, it comes back to you, you get sued like no other on the planet as an example.

(the old tired method of this but):
1) Announce DRM Free media
2) Release DRM free media w/ Watermarking
3) Download version from internet
4) Link watermarking to individual
5) SUE THE PANTS OFF OF THEM!!!
6) ??? (Repeat?)
7) Profit somehow.

Its a possibility. Don't just celebrate yet. I've got a feeling this wont be with out some strings

Fscking with my mix considered dangerous (0)

mixonic (186166) | about 7 years ago | (#18573293)

So Yay, DRM-free, goody gumdrops.

Ok, brass tacks. I track music, I mix music. I have worked at big mastering studios. I'm no platinum producer, but I have worked on things on iTunes. I've watched artists come into a mastering studio and listen for balance and tone, producers bring 8 versions of a song and stems to find the right sound. Basically, I've seen lots of people _care_ about how their art sounds.

No artist would ever want their fans to be tiered into those who get to hear their art how they intended, and those who get to hear it how they sort-of intend it. Sorry, but I think the DRM-free fanboys have forgotten where they put it. It's still insane that you become a second-class (or third now!) citizen of art if you cant afford it. If this music is now DRM-free, where's the argument for the lower bit-rates still being DRM encrusted? What's the argument for the lower bit-rates at all?

This is another way to get you to "upgrade" your music collection. This is business meant to screw you over (what portable players play non-DRM AAC the don't play DRM AAC anyway?). This is not a victory, or at least one not as large as the kiddies would have you think.

Paying for your consumer rights considered dangerous

-mix

Woof (0, Flamebait)

locokamil (850008) | about 7 years ago | (#18573297)

F*** you and your ilk, Steve Jobs. Why should I have to pay more for DRM free music? If we're getting *less* than what we would get with your DRM laden crap, we should be paying less too.

I'll be upstairs ripping my CDs, thanks.

About f****** time! (1)

plazman30 (531348) | about 7 years ago | (#18573303)

256K DRM free? I think I'm going to start buying music again!

Does anyone know if these songs will be watermarked with your AppleID?

It's a shame they don't give you a choice of AAC or MP3. My iPod plays AAC, but my Cowon does not.

New Artists? (1)

escay (923320) | about 7 years ago | (#18573305)

what would be more interesting is that if artists now decide to switch sides and sign new contracts with EMI - more people would be ready to buy non-DRMed music so this would be a good way for the artists to reach more audience, besides gathering some good cred along the way for supporting non-DRM.

It would also make the other big music companies sit up and take notice, when they suddenly start losing their golden-egg laying geese.

EMI (1)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | about 7 years ago | (#18573319)

Good for EMI. I'm really tempted to go out and buy a copy of Pink Floyd's 'More' (on EMI), since I don't have it on CD. It's like a missing tooth in my Pink Floyd collection. But I'm afraid they, and the rest of the big music companies, need to do more than that to restore my faith.

Still, for anyone who's using iTunes: if you're deciding between an EMI tune, and a non-EMI tune, I'd suggest picking the unencumbered EMI one. The music industry, like any industry, listens to our dollars more than our words.

Where are all those anti-Jobs people now? (5, Insightful)

SengirV (203400) | about 7 years ago | (#18573331)

After Jobs made his "get rid of DRM" speech a month or two ago, they were coming out of the woodwork blasting him for being a hypocrite. Maybe these know-nothings will now realize that he couldn't make these changes on his own, he needed the labels themselves to come along.

NOW that one of them is promoting anti-DRM versions, expect the indy stuff to follow suit. These same anti-Jobs people will lament the fact Jobs didn't do this with indy bands 1st. It's called negotiations people. Getting a major label to do this is 10 times better than having ONLY the indy bands DRM free. This is a major change in thinking for the big labels. And that made it well worth the wait.

Maybe if the anti-Jobs people would focus more on Microsoft and their disabling of the Zune wifi for a change, even more progress can be made in the DRM free world. But I'm guessing that the anti-Job reaction to his speech wasn't atually about his speech, it was more about being Microsoft lap dogs.

But mom! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18573387)

Some of these comments make me wonder if Slashdot has been overrun by spoiled, bratty teenagers. It's like they've been given a brand new car and they're accusing their parents of ruining their lives because it's not the right color.

Crap--I just accidentally made a car analogy.
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