I think Big Music is finally starting to gain a shred of sense on how to do business in the digital age, as one of the big labels, EMI, is going to offer DRM-free downloads at iTunes in May. Neowin:
EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.
Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said, “By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music.”
The tracks will be priced at $1.29 a song, so about 30 cents more than your traditional DRM-laden iTunes track. The price increase is definitely fair when you consider they double the quality (256 kbps is very, very close to CD quality) and, more importantly, give people the freedom to play the songs on whatever player they choose.
No matter which way you look at it, this is at the very least a minor victory. It’s nice to see a major label FINALLY get the picture and retool itself to the market. Let’s hope the other RIAA labels follow suit and see that DRM slows, not grows, their digital business.