My most hated music publisher, EMI, purveyor of the CD scourge that is Copy Control, has just announced DRM-Free music. It was a joint announcement involving Apple who will be providing the distribution channel with the iTunes Store.
DRM “protected” music, where you are limited in how you can copy or play your music, has been an absolute disaster for everyone involved, especially consumers. While removing DRM (and having to trust consumers not to pirate) is a terrific step in the right direction there are some details that could also make this effort a failure too. It appears that it’s going to be expensive; US$1.30 per track. You cannot purchase lossless tracks; 256bit AAC tracks is it and, while that is excellent quality, it is still worse than CD. Did you notice that for an album CD’s will generally be cheaper? Better quality and cheaper, hmm…
I almost want to commend EMI for taking what appears to be a fairly bold step but the reality is that this is something they had to do and should have done earlier. CD sales have been in decline for years and online sales, while increasing, are a small share of the market – probably because the product is inferior and expensive. Unfortunate this announcement doesn’t really change the situation. I look forward to v2.0 of DRM-Free music from EMI/Apple where the price is lowered and lossless is a (no extra cost) option.
I can’t see myself buying anything but (non copy-controlled) CD’s in the foreseeable future.