Thursday, August 09, 2007

Universal to sell DRM-free music. According to this article, Universal's "test" of DRM-free music downloads begins August 21st, and Amazon will be among the vendors selling the files; I guess this means the Amazon music store launches this month.

The one merchant excluded from this new DRM-free product is iTunes. Which seems silly to me. People will go to Amazon or the Universal website if they're looking to buy music by a major artist (advertising will let people know that 50 Cent, for instance, is available DRM-free at Universal's website), but for back-catalog stuff, I don't see people flocking to a new online merchant to buy songs. If something pops into my head, and I want to buy some music, I first check eMusic, then I check iTunes; if I knew the artist recorded on Universal, I would check the Universal site, but who knows on what label an artist records? Thanks to eMusic, I'm more aware of indie labels, but except for a few huge acts, I don't know one major label from another. If people don't find it DRM-free on iTunes (or at all; if I was Apple, I'd consider pulling Universal's catalog, to make them rethink their stance), they'll download it illegally (or, if they're like me, hit up their local library).

To be fair, though, I should thank Universal for keeping the price at 99 cents. Which is actually an odd decision; iTunes Plus has given the labels the variable pricing they've been begging for, sort of, and now the largest label is throwing the gesture right back in Apple's face.

No comments: