Free Music Downloads From EMI, Apple

MusicEMI Group and Apple Inc. takes a significant step by releasing higher-fidelity tunes specifically designed to play on any music player or computer. EMI Group & Apple is making its entire digital collection available without the anti-privacy software. Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Inc, and EMI Group Executives, on Monday, announced that EMI music will become available on Apple’s iTunes store without digital rights management (DRM) from May, 2007. This deal will also pressurize the other record labels to open up and offer DRM-free music.
This announcement could very well begin a new era for consumers as EMI’s entire catalog of digital music is available without electronic locks, DRM, at all online distributors and Apple will be the first online store to offer this service. At present, Apple is the dominant music retailer by selling two billion iTunes tracks, and the maker of the iPods selling 90 million iPod players.
The new premium downloads will be available at a higher quality and without DRM at a cost of $1.29 whereas piracy-protected & lower fidelity songs costs 99 cents. Songs by the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and Norah Jones etc. will soon be in offer for iTunes customers as well at new price.
According to the sources, the number of tracks available will be variable depending on the countries i.e. approximately 150,000 tracks will be offered to American consumers and more than 300,000 tracks may be offered to some selected markets. EMI Chief Executive, Eric Niroli, said, “The Beatles music catalog is excluded from the deal but company was working on it.” Eric ruled out any setting of time period for negotiations over the catalog. EMI has decided to offer its music in both formats. Consumers, already with lower-fidelity songs, have the option to upgrade their versions for 30 cents each.
The entertainment industry uses DRM software to prevent illegal copying or distribution of digital media files like Fairplay protection technology from Apple and Windows Media-based protection technology from Microsoft Corp. Now customers can easily make free copies for friends and relatives, or post the music on Internet file-swapping services.
Niroli said, “The best defense against music piracy is giving the customers a square deal. We’ve always argued that the best way to combat illegal traffic is to make legal content available.” We have to trust customers, he added.
“Doing the right thing for the customer going forward is to tear down the walls that impede interoperability,” said Steve Jobs. Referring to Content Scramble System that prevent user from copying the videos, Jobs said, “Video is pretty different from music right now because the video industry does not distribute 90 percent of their content DRM free. Never has. So I think they are in a pretty different situation and I wouldn’t hold it to a parallel at all.”
There is almost no reaction or comments from EMI competitors regarding EMI’s new policy. Digital music analyst, James McQuivey, with Forrester Research in Cambridge said, “EMI’s rival will be in no hurry to follow its lead. They will wait to see if consumers are willing to pay extra to embrace EMI’s new music format.”