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iTunes DRM-Free Tracks Now Same Price As DRM Tracks

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the that's-called-competition dept.

Music 250

jawtheshark writes "Apple has made the decision to revise the pricing of Plus songs on the iTunes Music store. Whereas previously the DRM-less tracks were more expensive than the 'normal' option (at $1.29 vs. $0.99), DRM-less tracks bought via ITMS will now be priced on the same level as DRM'd tracks. 'Apple plans to expand iTunes Plus to include certain indie music labels starting Wednesday, October 17 (or sometime this week, at least) ... This expansion won't include all independent music labels just yet, although we're optimistic that more will be included in the future. While we have no information on whether the iTunes Plus songs are selling well, we assume that the decision to drop the price is a response to the Amazon MP3 store. Amazon sells individual tracks for between 89 and 99 apiece, all without any DRM restrictions. With that in mind, it's kind of hard for Apple to compete at $1.29.'"

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Nice (1, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994347)

Competition is good. [amazon.com]

Re:Nice (3, Insightful)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994441)

Yes competition is good. I has caused apple to lower it's price to keep a few of it's customers. It also has caused some music labels to rethink how they sell music. (I know one of them is selling music online with non-DRM).

Hard, but not impossible (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994365)

With that in mind, it's kind of hard for Apple to compete at $1.29
Most iPod owners aren't going to bother downloading from Amazon and importing into iTunes. So Apple still could compete, but only by relying on users who don't know or care enough to switch to the alternative. Even so, this is still a good move.

Now I have to figure out how to tell the DRM-tunes from the non-DRM tunes. It was easy when there was a price difference.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (4, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994439)

The Non-DRM songs are called "iTunes Plus", they show up in your play list with a "+" next to them. I've upgraded a few of my songs from the DRM to non-DRM versions for $.30, I wonder if they will be offering free upgrades for those who haven't upgraded already?

Re:Hard, but not impossible (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994543)

Shouldn't the naming be the other way around? Normally companies brags about how the device supports extra security features as if that was a good thing ;D

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994561)

Excuse my ignorance of iTunes, but are the DRM free versions in a widely-used format, like MP3 or still essentially tied to the iPod by using an obscure codec?

Re:Hard, but not impossible (4, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994651)

As I understand it, they're 256kbps AAC files. Which is good, because it's a much better codec than mp3. It's also something of a myth that only iPods play them; lots of other machines, from PSPs via Zunes and Zens to Nokia mobile phones can handle the format.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994761)

also they can be batch converted to other formats (when the drm is removed)

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994807)

Conversion of lossy formats is rarely desirable.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20995055)

Playing of lossy formats is rarely desirable.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995099)

It is desirable when you have to convert it to something the target device understands. Everything is relative.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994717)

As always, they are in the most widely-used format that isn't MP3 -- the very standard AAC.

There are some players out there that won't play AAC, but they are hard to find these days.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (5, Informative)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994753)

i would hardly call AAC [wikipedia.org] obscure. it has more device market penetration than WMA [wikipedia.org] , that real defecation [wikipedia.org] and OGG [wikipedia.org] combined. even the zune plays AACs! ;)

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995095)

I can even plug my iPod into my Xbox 360 and play AAC files (the non-DRM ones of course).

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994829)

Tunes Plus [apple.com] and normal iTunes files are AAC [wikipedia.org] encoded.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1, Funny)

tiananmen tank man (979067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994525)

Yea man, its too hard to import mp3s into itunes</sarcasm>

Re:Hard, but not impossible (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995071)

You forgot the opening sarcasm tag, so the slashdot crowd missed your joke. What is this drag-and-drop business of importing mp3s into iTunes anyway?

Re:Hard, but not impossible (2, Informative)

Galaga88 (148206) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994527)

It doesn't even take effort to import the tracks into iTunes. The Amazon downloader automagically opens up and handles all the importing for you (at least on Windows.)

Re:Hard, but not impossible (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994609)

Yep but it makes a big hole in the Apple/iPod ecosystem.
Amazon has now made using a none iPod as easy or easier then an IPod.
No DRM hoops to jump through. It just works. And it costs no more than iTunes. Add in that you can use them with you iPod it now gives Amazon a bigger potental market than Apple. Amazon can now sell to everybody that has a Music player.
Now if the Networks will just jump on the no DRM bandwagon.

Hardly easier (1, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995037)

Amazon has now made using a none iPod as easy or easier then an IPod.
Unless, of course, your musical tastes include: Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Gov't Mule, The White Stripes, Jet, Pantera, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Dixie Chicks, Green Day... How is it easier to put songs on your non-iPod from the Amazon store when they DON'T CARRY THE SONGS???

Just for an unscientifc experiment, I randomized my iTunes playlist by artist and got the above sample. Not until "Fall Out Boy" in the 11th spot did I get an artist of my liking that is available from Amazon's mp3 stores. One or two songs would be ok, but 10 out 11 is simply not acceptable. Unless they sign more labels, this model is DOA.

Re:Hardly easier (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20995371)

>How is it easier to put songs on your non-iPod from the Amazon store when they DON'T CARRY THE SONGS???

Funny, people griped about iTunes for the same reason when it started... but it got better. Amazon's service is relatively new. It might just get better with time, too. Imagine that.

Stop whining, please? It's tiresome.

Re:Hard, but not impossible (0, Redundant)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994839)

I'm not going ot be downloading from Amazon, because their catalogue sucks. I couldn't find one artist that I currently have in my iTunes playlist after 10 minutes of trying. And I'm talking about major recording artists too, like Foo Fighters and Paul Simon. Maybe it's different now, but no catalogue equals no sale in my book. I want to jump online at a whim and buy that one track that popped into my head. 98% of the time it is on iTunes and 100% of that time it takes about 10 seconds to locate, purchase and download.

I realize all of this will continue to evolve... (2, Interesting)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994371)

...but for now, I'm not terribly impressed. Apple:

- still has only EMI (and the independents) at this new rate (compared to Amazon, which also has Universal)
- still embeds buyer information inside the files
- is still more expensive (ten cents, granted, but still...), and
- chose to react rather than innovate

It's the fourth bullet point that dismays me the most.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (1)

Vokkyt (739289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994467)

...but for now, I'm not terribly impressed. Apple:

- still has only EMI (and the independents) at this new rate (compared to Amazon, which also has Universal)
... - chose to react rather than innovate

It's the fourth bullet point that dismays me the most.

I'm not sure that's entirely a fair analysis of the situation. Many labels appear to be either hesitant to sign or left Apple because they would not give them the pricing or the DRM they wanted. [nytimes.com]
As I see it, Apple did innovate in pushing the digital market a heck of a lot harder than anyone else, and by pushing the price to a fairly reasonable level that people are actually buying songs at. Because they were first, they're getting shat on for it, or so it seems.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994481)

- chose to react rather than innovate

It's the fourth bullet point that dismays me the most.
You must have a short memory then. Apple was offering DRM free songs well before Amazon's DRM free songs. Offering the songs for only $.30 more at twice the bit rate quality wasn't innovative, but they were doing it before Amazon.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (5, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994675)

- still has only EMI (and the independents) at this new rate (compared to Amazon, which also has Universal)

Maybe I'm a bit naive but I thought it usually took time, work, and negotiation to reverse the practices of an entire industry. Apple did it first with EMI. EMI is sticking to their strategy hoping that they will survive and has started to offer it to Amazon. Universal is not happy with Apple right now so this is a bit of revenge on their part. Other than that, what is the major complaint here?

- still embeds buyer information inside the files

Information that is not hidden and can easily be removed. Information that reveals nothing more than the owner of the file. Information that has been embedded in every track Apple has sold (DRM or not) since the begining of iTunes. It's Apple's way of trying to track if someone buys a DRM free track and puts it on a P2P. When you buy anything (especially with a loyalty card), don't you think more information is gathered about you and sold to third parties?

- chose to react rather than innovate
It's the fourth bullet point that dismays me the most.

Company 1 offers new product or service.
Company 2 offers more or better features than Company 1 months later.
Company 1 matches Company 2's offer a few months later.

In your scenario, you've called out Company 1 for failure to innovate. Wasn't Apple the first of the two to offer DRM free tracks? Didn't Apple convince EMI to do so? In my world, the two are just competing.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (2, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994787)

Apple invented this juggernaut knows as online music stores. A billion or more song sales don't happen due to lack of innovation.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (1)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994995)

"Maybe I'm a bit naive..."

Certainly not, but I don't think you've understood my point. Of course Apple has set in motion a great thing: the re-invention of an industry whose practices and ethics have always been suspect. But is what I said, at face value, not true?

"Information that is not hidden and can easily be removed..."

That's beside the point. Amazon doesn't do it. While this was to be expected in files containing DRM, why can't Apple now do the same?

"Wasn't Apple the first of the two to offer DRM free tracks?"

Yes, as you and another poster pointed out. That, however, was yesterday. Yes, I admit I'm a fanboy, and as such, I want to see Apple always on the leading edge.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. For some others, I guess it's easier to negatively moderate than to reply.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (2, Informative)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995173)

...but for now, I'm not terribly impressed. Apple ... still embeds buyer information inside the files

What precisely is the problem here? It's not as though you're sharing those files around is it? And it's only your name, in an easily removable tag. I'm yet to hear a serious reason why this is so bad that uses actual logic. At the absolute worst and most cynical, it could be described only as a "minor inconvenience."

Apple ... still has only EMI (and the independents) at this new rate (compared to Amazon, which also has Universal)

And that's because Apple clearly don't want Universal to go DRM-free, is it? And you know this how, exactly? Could it be because EMI were willing, but other companies wanted different rules or wanted to break Apple's dominance? Will I end every sentence with a question mark? No, I have other punctuation waiting in the wings!

Apple ... chose to react rather than innovate

Other people have reminded you that Apple were doing this before Amazon. Not first in the online world (it's not hard to find other labels like eMusic) but they were the first really big, unquestionably legal player to offer DRM-free tracks.

Apple ... is still more expensive (ten cents, granted, but still...)

Good point. Apple picked the 99 cent price point early on and stuck with it. There have been many accounts of pressure applied to Apple to raise the price, and they've resisted. Hopefully Amazon's lower price will force Apple to compete at that level (really, I mean force the labels to realise this level is the price people are willing to pay).

I think you've tried hard to criticise Apple here, but failed to come up with a compellingly damning criticism. Better points could have revolved around the poor support for indie DRM-free tracks (improving now though) and purchase of lossless media (256kbit versus lossless is hard to hear though). Sadly you didn't grasp the nettle of opportunity when you could've.

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995257)

How is the first one Apples fault? Except pricing or something.

Yeah, Apple is just copying amazons music store! Without drm and all! Bad Apple bad! ...

Re:I realize all of this will continue to evolve.. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995295)

Btw, exactly WHAT do you want them to "innovate" in the music area? Or where have they copied someone? What's your point really?

Competition is good (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994375)

Maybe Amazon had something to do with it, but Amazon was only trying to compete with iTunes Store. Personally I think consumers win there is competition like this.

How long til we're DRM free? (1)

p00n0s (1117823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994377)

It'd be nice to see how well DRM-free music is selling compared to DRM'd music now the the prices are the same on iTunes. More curiously, how long until the other labels remove the DRM restrictions? Will this price reduction prompt people to favor the DRM-free option? I hope so...

All tracks to be 99 (4, Informative)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994403)

I know it's nothing novel to complain about the quality of Slashdot summaries, but it really would have been nice to mention that the new price for all songs is 99. The last line in the current summary gives the impression that they were all going to be $1.29...

Re:All tracks to be 99 (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994571)

And now I see that /. doesn't like the cent symbol. That's supposed to be 99c.

3... 2... 1... (1)

nystagman (603173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994405)

... Time! For the "First bruise on the Apple" stories to swamp the intertubes.

Somehow a bunch of "journalists" are going to find a way to spin this as a negative.

Everybody put on your pundit hat. How would _you_ do it?

Re:3... 2... 1... (4, Funny)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994523)

I might say something like "Apple has been forced to reduce pricing to compete with other online music stores after losing a major contract with Universal. Combined with the relatively closed nature of the iPod, and negative publicity about the iPhone, Apple looks like it will have to do some major adjusting in order to continue to remain dominant in a market that they helped create."

But I'm not a pundit.

Re:3... 2... 1... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994739)

just check wvmarle's post about 5 posts up. Somehow Apple's monopoly on the mp3 player market has forced the inclusion of DRM on songs, or some nonesense.

Huh (4, Funny)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994411)

Why are they selling DRM and non-DRM for the same price? Is that sort of like:

"If you want to ride the roller coster you have to get corn holed first, or you can just get on the ride."

Re:Huh (2, Interesting)

Vokkyt (739289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994505)

Leverage really. If they talk to a label and say that DRM doesn't sell while the label says DRM is necessary and consumers don't care, Apple can pull out comparison charts of new releases that had both DRM and DRM-free copies, and show [what I'm hoping will be] the staggering difference between the two.

Re:Huh (4, Insightful)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994551)

Yes but this does not make up for the STUPID user. Most people on Slashdot know what DRM is. The 15 year old girl who wants her hip-hop for her pink ipod will not. I think itunes needs a big ass message that pops up explaining what DRM is and have a "Yes I Want This" button and a "No Thanks" button and let people pick that way.

Re:Huh (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994867)

Ah, but people are learning.... In the last few months, I have had serveral people ask me about DRMed music and why it wouldn't play on their $PLAYER or that it didn't work on a specific computer, etc, etc...

People need to get burned to be informed... That's happening more everyday.... That's a good thing, even though you get a bunch of unsatisfied customers.

Re:Huh (1)

p00n0s (1117823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994567)

You can't really have different prices for them. You can't charge more for DRM'd songs that you can do less with, and you can't charge more for DRM-free songs because you can get them cheaper at Amazon. Hopefully people will choose DRM-free over DRM'd songs and the choice will be noticeable enough to cause all labels to scrap DRM to sell the songs.

Re:Huh (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994847)

Because not all of their music is DRM free. I'd assume that now they only sell the + versions of the songs that have the option.

Re:Huh (Here is why) (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994965)

Pricing is probably in the contract with the music labels. While I agree its kinda stupid to sell the DRMed and non-DRMed music at the same price, they probably don't have a choice in the long term.

Ignoring the DRM for a moment, I think 128Bit music should cost less than $0.50 a song anyway. Full CD quality costs about $1.50 a track when you buy a CD; depending on tracks of course.

Back to DRM, I think this is great for the user. It give Apple more leverage to push down prices for DRM'ed music simply because people are going to say why pay $0.99 for this crap when I can get DRMless, higher bit rate music for the same price.

Re:Huh (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995223)

Positives are negatives!
Up is down!
In is out!
Left is right!
Black is white!

I love the variety of Slashdot, where you'll always get someone popping up to describe how a new and beneficial development is actually a bad thing.

Choice is bad!
Options are wrong!
Change is evil!
Better is worse!

More important (to me at least) (3, Insightful)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994419)

Amazon and Magnatune work on Linux. Or just about any OS, for that matter. And they work with any MP3 player ('cause they're, you know, MP3s).

Re:More important (to me at least) (2, Informative)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994529)

Amazon does not work well on Linux, though they do promise that a linux version of there MP3 downloader is coming. At the moment, linux users can only get single tracks, which is more costly than the whole album. I am struggling to understand the need for a specific piece of software for albums. Why not just sell albums as an archive (Zip perhaps, to be Windows friendly) of all the MP3 files? That's what Radiohead did. Also, the Amazon service is still (at least nominally) available to people with US addresses.

Re:More important (to me at least) (2, Insightful)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994767)

At the moment, linux users can only get single tracks, which is more costly than the whole album.

Good point. I'd not realized the price discrepancy.

Also, apparently you cannot re-download without the magic software. (can't find my source for this anymore. It was either Ars Technica or a Planet that I read.)

Regardless, at least it works to some degree, in contrast to iTunes. And Magnatune Just Works Better. :)

Regarding US-only: I did find this [venturecake.com] .

Re:More important (to me at least) (4, Interesting)

allcar (1111567) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995187)

I just tried a new purchase on Amazon and was rejected with the following message:

We are sorry...
We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
This, in spite of the fact that I have previously made purchases with a false address in CA 90210! They've obviously tightened up the rules. How depressing! No doubt, downloads will cost 1GBP, rather than 1USD, when they finally make it to the UK.

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995229)

Stupid Amazon. :(

Re:More important (to me at least) (0, Redundant)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994585)

iTunes plus songs work on any AAC player! ('cause they're, you know, AACs).

Atleast I guess they do =P

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994853)

iTunes plus songs work on any AAC player! ('cause they're, you know, AACs).
The songs do, but you have to have Windows or a Mac to download them.

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994905)

The songs do, but you have to have Windows or a Mac to download them.
...just like Amazon, if you want to be able to buy albums.

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994907)

I'd be interested to see how you buy your iTunes Plus songs without iTunes ;)

DRM is a pain. My, erm, brother's sister's nephew's uncle's wife bought some old iTunes MP3s back when they were all DRMed. She now doesn't have an MP3 player and my brother's sister's nephew's uncle is having to play them through iTunes, record them through Goldwave and save them as MP3s. Not perfect, but it works for those who aren't audiophiles. It does mean that she realises buying from iTunes with DRM was a bad idea, though.

Re:More important (to me at least) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20994777)

Amazon and Magnatune work on Linux.

Yes, too bad everything on Magnatute sucks.

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994951)

Heh. Good to know that Anonymous Cowards still have no taste in music. :)

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994833)

Is there any OS, software, or music player left that can't handle DRM-free AACs? Anywhere? DRM-free AACs are what iTunes Plus is selling.

It amazes me after all this time that people still think AAC is a proprietary format, or that iTunes somehow contaminates DRM-free files with DRM. Sometimes I think it's willful ignorance.

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995013)

I dunno about what proportion of MP3 players play AAC (I'm guessing that it's less than the number that play MP3), but I think you miss the point: iTMS requires, erm, iT.

Re:More important (to me at least) (1)

nick.ian.k (987094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995439)

It amazes me after all this time that people still think AAC is a proprietary format, or that iTunes somehow contaminates DRM-free files with DRM. Sometimes I think it's willful ignorance.

No, it's not. AAC *is* a proprietary, patented technology. While there is no requirement to have a license for distribution of AAC content, but a license *is* required fo anyone making hardware or developing software that encodes/decodes to/from AAC. Don't confuse "possible to be free of DRM" with "non-proprietary". They're not the same thing.

Boiling RIAA (3, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994433)

Brilliant.

Announce the "intermediate" step of "no DRM, we'll pacify you by raising the price. X months later we'll do what we really wanted to."

Radiohead album a factor as well? (3, Insightful)

dj42 (765300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994451)

I'm curious if Radiohead's Name-Your-Price album prompted the announcement, Apple thinking they could catch a bit of positive press while the anti-RIAA/DRM sentiments are flowing.

Who knows.

Now I'm really upset (4, Funny)

FieroEtnl (773481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994493)

They're dropping the prices of DRM-free music? But what about us early adopters who've already bought music from them? Are they going to give us a refund since they clearly scammed us of our hard-earned money? Maybe I'll just sue Apple...

Re:Now I'm really upset (0, Redundant)

BZWingZero (1119881) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994623)

Well, they might just give store credit for 50% of the difference...

Re:Now I'm really upset (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994687)

This will come out harshly but, 'So what?'. I bought some as well. This is how competition and markets should work. Come out with something 'new' that people want and you can charge more for it. Then later on you can bring the price down as competition demands. This is good for us in the future when we go to buy more DRM-less music. All prices come down eventually, so there's no reason to complain, or act surprised about it.

It's like the whole iPhone thing. People went out and bought it at a known, advertised, given price. They sell so many that they can drop the price (or whatever their reasoning), and suddenly people freak out as it they've been wronged for buying one at the higher price. It's not like it happened in that first weekend, or that they attempted some bait-and-switch. It's not even a monopoly where you needed a phone/music/product and HAD to buy that one, you had many choices and chose that one.

Your sarcasm detector must be broken (1)

Pap22 (1054324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994881)

You can learn how to get it fixed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm [wikipedia.org]

Re:Now I'm really upset (1, Funny)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994721)

Sue for that? For paying more for music? Ok, that's a good case!

I'll sue my grossery store next time the lowers the price on apples, damn morons! How can they do that when I bought apples the other day!?

Bad luck for you thought, but I guess the companies which went DRM-free wanted more money, or Apple thought they needed more money to convince them, but once Amazon used the lower price they had something to tell companies to convince them that a lower price was necessary.

Bad luck and sad for you but clearly not something you can sue them for. I hope you where joking against those morons deciding that sueing Apple for lowering the price of the iPhone was a good thing to do..

suddenoutbreakofcommonsense tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20994513)

think it applies here

DRM digging it's own grave (5, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994535)

It seems to me that DRM is digging it's own grave, thanks to the immense popularity of the iPod (I heard in the US like 80% market share).

The iPod uses DRM, but only Apple's DRM. And it can of course play unprotected songs.

Apple does not license it's DRM to other vendor: in effect becoming the only vendor selling DRM'ed songs to 80% of the market of digital music players. The rest of the players can fight of the left-overs.

Apple gets a lot of market power: the labels want to sell music, but only music with DRM. To reach the majority of the market, they must play together with Apple. And Apple has proven not to be very easy a business partner.

Thus the only way the music labels can tap into that 80% of the market, without going through Apple, is by selling non-DRM'ed songs. And there is a good reason for a music label to have multiple resellers for your product: then the resellers have to compete with each other to buy their music. Which likely gives rise to higher prices for the labels.

This way I see DRM having dug it's own grave: one DRM scheme became very popular, giving one player a very powerful virtual monopoly over online music sales. The label-mandated DRM now locks everyone in to that one player: Apple with their iTunes Music Store. And the only way to break this monopoly is to drop DRM, and that is exactly what is happening now.

And already we see the fruits of this development: iTunes forced to lower their prices, other stores offering flexible pricing options ('priced between 89 and 99 cents' - not much of a difference but there is flexibility), and certainly this will start opening the market for more online music resellers. This can not be a bad thing.

Getting even more off-topic: here in Hong Kong recently retail chain HMV started to sell tracks through ATM-style kiosks. Digital sales, but not online. These kiosks are in their retail outlets, offering buyers a huge collection (about half a million tracks or so; that requires quite a large brick 'n mortar store to house), and instant downloads to their digital music player. Again they use DRM: in this case Microsoft's Plays For Sure scheme. Now without DRM I'm sure HMV would have a much bigger market. I have no idea on the market share of Plays For Sure devices, though it's for sure less than half. So DRM free can instantly double one's market. If PFS devices are only 20% of the market (just a guess), they could increase their market five times just by dropping the DRM.

I doubt the record labels will ever agree that DRM limits their sales; confirming the R in DRM stands for Restrictions. Not Rights. Restricting not only what the user can do, but restricting your own market even more in the process.

Wouter.

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994671)

one DRM scheme became very popular, giving one player a very powerful virtual monopoly over online music sales. The label-mandated DRM now locks everyone in to that one player: Apple with their iTunes Music Store. And the only way to break this monopoly is to drop DRM, and that is exactly what is happening now.


This is until a company takes apple to court saying Apple has a monopoly on the ipod's DRM. Apple may be required to open up its DRM. Kinda like how Microsoft has to open up its protocols in Europe.

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994887)

Kinda like how Microsoft has to open up its protocols in Europe.

Yeah, and that has worked so wel...*sigh*

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995007)

Never said it would work. Or that it worked with Microsoft.

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994693)

Wow, that is the most anti-apple skewed view of the issue I've ever seen. DRM exists because record labels insist it does. DRM is not going away because Apple has createad a monopoly of DRM files. DRM is going away because people don't like it, and Apple is smart enough to try and persuade as many studios as possible to get rid of it. People buy music IN SPITE of the iTunes DRM. Saying non-drm has forced Apple to lower their prices is stupid. APPLE has forced the industry to accept a set price of .99 cents, against the desires of EVERY recording industry person on the planet. This is a "good thing" and has nothing to do with the inclusion of DRM or the lack thereof.

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (1)

Ghubi (1102775) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995209)

Way to miss the point entirely. The point was that because Apple doesn't license their DRM the only way for other online sellers to compete with apple is to sell music without DRM. Otherwise they would not be able to reach ipod owners which is such a huge part of the market. I fail to see how any of this is anti-Apple skewed.

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20994843)

I have no idea on the market share of Plays For Sure devices, though it's for sure less than half.

Less than half of one percent?

Re:DRM digging it's own grave (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995421)

...the resellers have to compete with each other to buy their music. Which likely gives rise to higher prices for the labels.
This is based on the law of supply and demand. Of course, given the supply is infinite, demand will have little impact on its value. Which is why prices are going down with more locations to purchase from - the artificial restrictions on supply are being removed. If this keeps up digital music will soon be sold at a value close to what the consumer thinks it's worth, which is about the last thing the music cartel wants. Things they want less include people not paying anything for music and being in a stranglehold by a single supplier (a familiar feeling for music buyers).

Let's State the Blazingly Obvious (3, Insightful)

DannyO152 (544940) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994539)

So the dinosaurs bellow in the night, pull their tracks, and now look at the shelf space for the independents: smaller, hungrier people who see opportunity in the new distribution technologies. The dinosaurs seem to have forgetten the door they left open during the three years they didn't get MTV.

If I were Apple, I'd talk to the independents and help them start some internet radio channels and provide sponsorships so the new channels can afford the air talent and the short-term loan to Sound Exchange (who will be collecting all internet recording performance fees and then giving out to the record companies who hold the copyrights on the recordings.) People only buy what they hear and can find.

DRM-free, but what about 256kbps AAC? (1, Interesting)

kilonad (157396) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994557)

Does this mean that all iTunes Plus songs, which are currently DRM-free and 256kbps AAC, are now $0.99? Or just that DRM-free songs are now $0.99 but 256kbps are still $1.29?

mod 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20994587)

Awesome (1)

Trub68 (1140871) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994615)

Death to DRM!

Switch the naming around (1, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994625)

Seems like iTunes PLUS should now be called iTunes, and the remaining stupid studios that still demand DRM should be put in iTunes PLUS. Afterall, you are getting MORE with a DRM laden file. They should also charge $1.29 for the extra stuff (drm) you get in those songs.

Re:Switch the naming around (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994849)

Seems like iTunes PLUS should now be called iTunes, and the remaining stupid studios that still demand DRM should be put in iTunes PLUS. Afterall, you are getting MORE with a DRM laden file. They should also charge $1.29 for the extra stuff (drm) you get in those songs.
Or maybe they could call the DRM laden songs "iTunes Minus" as in "iTunes minus the freedom to do what you want with your music" :-D Still, iTunes's DRM is not as bad as some making it out to be. In fact, it's quite silly when you consider that you can burn the tunes to a CD and then rip them back. Pain in the neck? Yeah. Waste of time and resources? Yeah. But these things were put in place to appease the record companies, not out of any innate desire by Apple to limit your enjoyment of your music.

Think of the Artists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20994639)

For the love of Christ would you think of the artists! How can they make any money without DRM? You are steeling food from their family's table!

The likely outcome (5, Interesting)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994751)

If we look at the situation, we can see that there is a major problem with Amazon's service:

Step 1 - Universal wants higher prices, but Apple refuses.

Step 2 - Universal dumps Apple and goes to Amazon, and Amazon starts selling songs at prices lower than the iTunes Store.

Step 3 - ?

In Step 3, Universal needs to achieve the goals it set out with contract re-negotiations with Apple. The goals were higher prices, with a larger percentage going to Universal for sending over a digital copy of an album four years ago. (The artists, are, as you might imagine, quite irrelevant in their calculations).

So why are they selling tracks at $0.89? To drive people away from the iTunes Store, knock it off its pedestal as the dominant online music retailer, and then jack up the prices once that has occurred and there is a new major player on the block who is more...accommodating...to the wants of the major labels.

Am I suggesting that people abandon Amazon and start paying more of their hard-earned money to Apple? No. What I am suggesting, and what I have done, is to put a moratorium on my online music purchases until things settle down a bit, as I strongly believe Amazon is going to end up screwing us in the end. We have to keep in mind the only reason Universal went with Amazon was because Apple refused to let them dictate terms that would end up raising the price of online music to a point higher than physical CDs themselves.

It's ridiculous to think that these prices are going to last, and that when the "correction" comes, that it will be anything but drastic. Giving Amazon a great deal of business, and thus, the big labels more leverage over operations that have fought for the end users, is detrimental to online music retailing as a whole.

Let me reiterate, the problem is not that the music is being sold by a company other than Apple, but WHY that music is being sold by a company other than Apple at the prices currently asked.

Re:The likely outcome (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995347)

Except in your step 2, Universal wins, because not all Amazon songs are .89 cents. I read that some of them can get up beyond $5 per track. This is EXACTLY what the record labels wanted, leading to Step 3 - Consumer loses, record labels get fatter. Step - 4, Record labels threaten to pull Amazon tracks unless Amazon starts selling them for $1.50 / track. Step - 5 Thousands of users go back to iTunes who still sell ALL tracks at .99 cents

Does it still block conversion to MP3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20994837)

He may have removed the DRM, but iTunes still refuses to convert these DRM free tracks into MP3, Jobs is determined to hang onto his stupid DRM regardless.

And yes I did say Jobs, it's Jobs that blocked that feature for AAC to MP3 conversion on DRM free tracks not the record companies. Rumour has it Amazons store is a raging success.

It's Still Lossless (-1, Offtopic)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20994963)

DRM or not, it's still lossless and therefore nothing that anyone should spend any money on. Admittedly, some of the newer lossy codecs are pretty good and you might say you would only hear a difference on audiophile equipment. I would argue that it's not so much about equipment as ear training, but if we allow that argument, then as technology progresses, what is audiophile now will be general and cheap in a decade (and you can even now buy audiophile level equipment for less than $1000 if you can stand inserting in ear canal musician-style headphones). Do you want to have to rebuy your entire collection then?

People need to start pushing for non-lossless as much as no DRM. Otherwise it's just an invitation to make you repurchase the same songs over and over again a la the latest super ultimate director's cut edition of x blockbuster.

Re:It's Still Lossless (1)

e1618978 (598967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995197)

Lossy compression => you lose information when you compress, so you don't have the same thing
back again after a compression/decompression cycle.

Lossless compression => you don't lose any information, this is ideal

non-lossless => double negative

Re:It's Still Lossless (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995263)

Ear-canal musician style headphones have nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with having personal control of monitoring the levels of all the other mics and instruments in the band. As a drummer, I can tell you that the added ear protection is a bonus, but I'd never use my in-ears for an audiophile experience at home.

But to keep this on topic, people aren't going to rebuy their songs if the come out with higher quality, because most people are happy with what they already bought. Some people will start buying higher quality songs, given the choice, but only if the price is right. Car analogy time: I bought a BMW 3 series recently, but feel no desire to rush out and by the 2008 model, even if it were vastly superior at a much lower price. Guess what, I liked what I purchased, and the fact a newer/better/cheaper one is available doesn't affect my original desire to drop $30k+ on the car I have now.

Re:It's Still Lossless (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995491)

There is no lossless encoding possible in reality.

An audio waveform encoded to CD loses resolution. We can't usually hear the difference but it still loses information between the instrument or voice, and the CD.

The only useful argument is how much loss are you prepared to suffer?

I would argue that 128kbit/s is okay for outdoor listening and 256kbit/s is good for just about any form of audio indoors. Some music is improved by listening to the CD (as opposed to the 256kbit/s AAC) and some music can only be truly appreciated in the concert hall with the orchestra in front of you and the acoustic surfaces around you.

All recording or playback devices suffer losses either from A/D (or D/A) conversions or from components altering the information as it passes through. Even if we eliminate those losses, our senses degrade and by the time we're adults we're not hearing what we heard in our teens.

You want truly lossless? Well, no recording you can own now will satisify you and no amount of money will help. Instead, work out what you'll settle for and aim for that.

Amazon MP3 in Canada (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995047)

I wish that the Amazon MP3 store was available in Canada. Why do we always get left out? *sigh* I want to buy legal DRM free music too!

However, this can only be a good thing with Apple and Amazon competing. I'm sure it'll come to other countries eventually.

it proves DRM is worthless (3, Insightful)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995165)

Since DRM and DRM-free tracks cost the same, it proves that DRM is worthless!

song_value + DRM_value = song_value
              DRM_value = song_value - song_value
              DRM_value = 0

Does itunes sell to anyone or you gotta have ipod (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995207)

to buy from it ? and does the mp3 work in all devices ? whereas $0.99 is still a tad bit expensive, i might consider acquiring some niche songs from over there.

Answers (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995365)

You don't need an iPod. These are completely unprotected files.

The files are 256kbps MP4 files, somewhat better quality than comparable sized MP3s.

You will need to transcode them to MP3 for most media players, because pretty much all music players only support MP3 and WMA... things like MP4 (AAC - Advanced Audio Codec), OGG, etc are pretty rare.

Re:Does itunes sell to anyone or you gotta have ip (1)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995449)

No iPod required. The music store has, since its inception, allowed the burning of purchases to CDs (action restricted by DRM, but the final product is a real, DRM-free CD). You could also listen to the tracks using the iTunes on your computer, stream it to other authorized computers using iTunes, and stream it to your home entertainment system with Airport Express or Apple TV.

What's changed is that you now have even more flexibility. You can now stream it using anything that understands the (documented) AAC format. Play it on many more portable music players. Remix it using Audacity or other audio editing software.

You still don't need an iPod to use the iTunes music store. Now its just way more flexible, especially if you don't have an iPod.

Re:Does itunes sell to anyone or you gotta have ip (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20995487)

Yes, it uses a proprietary format called Apple Audio Codec, which is encrypted and works only on Apple players.
They also won't let you buy from them unless you can show a picture of your french painter hat, your ACLU card, and two recent receipts from Starbucks.

Do the tracks have phthalates in them? (2, Funny)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995281)

Oh my God Apple dropped another price! It's just like the iPhone all over again. SUE!! SUE!!

I demand compensation! (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995291)

I didn' buy any of the more expensive DRM-free tracks, but I think what Apple has done is reprehensible to potential early adopters like myself.

I demand that Apple pay me, and others like me, ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Or I'll send in the sharks.

Apple is so concerned about "lock in" (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995331)

That they won't offer anything other than AAC. Which means for those of us with "other" types of players, the iTunes Music Store is completely useless.

I have an iPod as well as a few other devices, and frankly, I will continue to buy CDs or go through Amazon that has MP3 format available. Yes, it's not Ogg but not all devices support that. Every device supports MP3, and so the popular format that Amazon releases is the one I'll by. I will usually save money anyway.

I do wish Amazon had a better front-end to search their MP3s though... this way I can re-download them incase I lose them.

AAC is not Apple's proprietary format (3, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20995471)

That they won't offer anything other than AAC.

AAC is just the MPEG 4 audio codec, it's a publicly defined standard, and somewhat better quality than MP3 for equivalent file sizes. There are a few other media players that support it... but most only support MP3 and Microsoft's proprietary WMA. It's ironic, too, when some company whines about Apple's "non-standard" formats when it's *their* decision, not Apple's, not to support MP4.

One wonders if Microsoft cuts them a deal on the license for WMA if they leave out MP4/AAC, OGG, etcetera...

You can transcode to MP3 if you need to, if you must buy a media player from a company that kowtows to Redmond.

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