Apple Launches iTunes Plus: DRM-Free Music

Dennis Faas's picture

Since last Wednesday, Apple's iTunes store is now selling DRM-free songs from the popular record company, EMI. Popular artists on the EMI label include Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, and John Coltrane. (Source:

The new iTunes 7.2 (available for download on the iTunes site) will allow music lovers to download an iTunes Plus DRM-free version of a song.

What is DRM?

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. DRM software prevents people from copying and freely utilizing a digital file across multiple devices. (Source:

Before this new version was launched, previous downloaded songs bought from the iTunes Store only worked with iPods, and with limited playback to five computers.

How Much Will iTunes Plus Cost?

The new DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks will be sold for a price slightly higher than the standard songs -- $1.29 US per song, instead of $0.99 US -- and will allow downloaders unlimited playback and copying capabilities. iTunes customers can upgrade their collection of earlier purchased EMI music to iTunes Plus tracks for just $0.30 US a song and $3.00 US per album. (Source: Apple CEO Steve Jobs expects that "more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year... Our customers are very excited about the freedom and amazing sound quality of iTunes Plus." (Source:

Big Deal for Music Industry

Apple's latest move is being touted as a big deal for the music industry. Even though some online stores, such as eMusic have been selling DRM-free music for some time, major labels have been resistant and hesitant to offer their music DRM-free.

Mat Honan of notes that "EMI's tentative embrace is a true watershed moment, although it was probably driven as much out of concern for an ever-lowering bottom line as it was customer satisfaction". (Source:

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI notes that "this is a tremendous milestone for digital music... Consumers are going to love listening to higher quality iTunes Plus tracks from their favourite EMI artists with no usage restrictions." (Source:

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