Set the music free

03Apr07

EMI announced that they will start selling their entire digital music catalogue without DRM. DRM for those who are not familiar with it means Digital Rights Management. DRM simply allows music labels to control how you use your music. A music file with DRM can be restricted to play in a specific type or number of devices only.

EMI’s DRM-free catalogue will be available to all resellers but they will start offering songs first on iTunes. Apple will start selling these songs from EMI starting May.

Apple also announced that they will offer EMI’s music at twice the current bit rate at 256kbps, that’s quality indistinguishable from CD-quality music. Price for a 256kbps, DRM-free music from EMI is at $1.29. For those who bought their music with DRM from the iTunes Store and would like to upsample their collection, they would just need to pay $0.30 per track. For those who feels that it’s ok to own music with DRM or listening to it at a lower bit rate, Apple is still keeping the $0.99 songs in the catalogue.

What this all means is that Apple is giving the consumer the power to choose. The power to choose in buying a song at cheaper cost, sacrificing quality and freedom or buy better sounding music with interoperability at an added $0.30 per song.

All this discussion about DRM and choice are lost on those who get their music from P2P networks. My music is mostly taken from CDs or from the iTunes music store. I am willing to pay $0.99 per song because I believe in supporting the performer or artist. I have almost purged my library of illegally downloaded songs. There are a few here and there because they are in some nook in my hard drive but as soon as I find them I delete them immediately.

Stripping DRM from music is about being given the power to choose. EMI and Apple has taken a huge leap forward to giving that power back to consumers. Still, there will be skeptics and naysayers. Let see how the event of today will pan out 5 years from now.

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