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Reactions to the Apple / EMI Announcement

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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Yesterday's joint announcement from Apple and EMI remains the big news. To recap:

- EMI's Music will be sold without Digital Rights Management restrictions through iTunes
- These new songs will be higher quality (256kbps) and sell for $1.29/song individually
- DRM-Restricted songs at the lower quality settings (128kbps) will still be sold for $.99
- Albums will be in the new higher quality/DRM-less format but remain at the same price.

A full transcript of the Q&A session from the announcement is now available.

Microsoft-Watch notes that the deal greatly impacts Microsoft in that they bet big on Digital Rights Manangement.

With the release of Windows Media 9, Microsoft made a huge bet on DRM. No question, Windows Media 9 delivered highly flexible rights management that could be used for lots of interesting marketing purposes, such as a label releasing a new album with, say, three free plays. But Microsoft's bet hasn't paid off in the market, even with so many music stores using Windows Media DRM.

PC Mag cites the response from the Norwegian Consumer Council, who had previously declared Apple's DRM restrictions to be illegal and tried to pass legistation to force open standards:

"No matter how the digital music market develops, today will always stand out [as] a very important date, the day when two of the really big market players finally took responsibility that follows from the position and made an interoperable solution available to consumers," said Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor to the Norwegian Consumer Council, in an email. "I applaud their move, and encourage all the other contenders in the digital music business to make the same important move."
 

Naimfan

Suspended
Jan 15, 2003
4,669
2,013
Yes it is! On the one hand I'm surprised to see EMI do it, on the other, it makes perfect sense.....

B
 
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jbembe

macrumors 6502a
Jun 2, 2003
765
0
Baltimore, MD
let's hope other companies get on board quick, I am quite eager to upgrade all my iTMS tracks to 256kbps for 30cents each!!
 
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Nilonym

macrumors member
Jan 14, 2007
41
24
Seattle, WA
Upgrading full albums

I usually purchase full albums from ITMS. Does anyone know how we will be able to upgrade our previously purchased albums to the DRM-free equivalient?

I suspect that even though the full album price is not changing, upgrading a previously purchased album will require that we pay the per-song difference of $.30 for each song in the album, resulting in a roughly $3-$5 upgrade fee.
 
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pagansoul

macrumors 65816
Aug 10, 2006
1,041
40
Earth
There is a reason for EMI to do DRM free...

They are loosing business, big time and have to try something new. This way while offering both versions on iTunes they can see true results of DRM @ .99 and DRM free @ 1.30 (and higher rate) using a store that carries over 50% of the download market. Whatever the outcome, the data will be priceless. Everyone in the music business will be waiting for the early results.
 
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Mgkwho

macrumors 6502a
Mar 2, 2005
582
6
Yay Apple. Boo Microsoft.

Is the DRM- WM9 really that big of a deal? There next release will probably copy Apple and so what?

-=|Mgkwho
 
Comment

Avatar74

macrumors 65816
Feb 5, 2007
1,389
67
They are loosing business, big time and have to try something new. This way while offering both versions on iTunes they can see true results of DRM @ .99 and DRM free @ 1.30 (and higher rate) using a store that carries over 50% of the download market. Whatever the outcome, the data will be priceless. Everyone in the music business will be waiting for the early results.

This is exactly what I was saying in another instance where a poster thought Apple doesn't do any market research. That's precisely what this is... They put out a "feeler" product, gather data, and determine the potential for going wide with that and similar products they may have in the pipeline. In the case of iTunes, they also use the data as a negotiating point with other labels.

In this case, Jobs is putting his money where his mouth is with a willingness to prove that there is a considerable market for non-DRM files. The outcome of this could be the end of DRM.
 
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chrisgeleven

macrumors 6502
Apr 28, 2002
468
49
Manchester, NH
I know for one thing. As bands I listen to get their music upgraded to DRM free at 256kbps on iTunes, I will never buy another CD from them. I will instead buy albums directly from iTunes.

The instant gratification factor (no trip to the store) and the price are huge points.

Plus there is one key element. The sound quality will be higher on the store then what I currently rip CD's at (150-170kbps MP3 VBR thanks to LAME). I never actually listen to a CD itself anymore: after buying a CD I instantly run to the computer and rip it, then store the CD someplace out of the way. So I never need to rerip the CD again...my ears aren't getting better and even on the best speakers I can find, I don't notice a sound quality difference.

So I can just ditch having to store CD's and go 100% iTunes bought music. I get a sound quality improvement without worrying about storing the physical CD's.

It is a win/win for me. I am sure to buy more albums now.
 
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bryanc

macrumors 6502
Feb 12, 2003
335
0
Fredericton, NB Canada
Checkmate

I don't know if this was Steve's plan (it would be very interesting to know what stage the negotiations with EMI were at when Job's posted his open letter on DRM), but this is a stroke of genius: the removal of DRM from music purchased through iTunes solves the legal problems in Europe, drives a nail into the coffin of competing download services, shuts the anti-DRM detractors up, pulls the rug out from under WMA, and further enhances Apple's image as a consumer-friendly good-guy.

I think we'll look back on this event as the beginning of the end for WMA, and the masterstroke that cemented Apple's dominance of the digital music distribution market.

Cheers
 
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alansky

macrumors member
Jan 17, 2007
43
0
Marin County, CA
Brilliant!

As others have pointed out in various forums, the deal puts pressure on EMI's competitors (the other big music publishers) to follow suit in order not to be perceived by the market as offering an inferior product (lower quality + DRM). This is brilliant!
 
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Rojo

macrumors 65816
Sep 26, 2006
1,328
241
Barcelona
Wow - I thought the album cost remaining the same was just wishful thinking for people around here. Glad they're actually doing it.

But yeah, I'd like to know if upgrading full albums means we still have to pay the upgrade per track, or if it's free (since full albums remain the same cost). Also -- I read something about a button is going to be available in iTunes that will convert all previously bought tracks at once -- but can people upgrade just SOME songs and not others? If we have to pay the upgrade fee per track, there's definitely a huge chunk of my music that I don't care if it's high-quality or not -- and I don't want to have to pay upgrades for all at once. I'm looking at about $600 if I do that.

Also, if upgrading full albums turns out to be free -- does that mean using the "complete my album" feature will apply? That would be a clever way for Apple to get people to buy more tracks, so they think they're saving money by not having to pay upgrade fees. But I wouldn't mind doing that.
 
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Whyren

macrumors 6502a
Here's a question. A majority of my songs from iTunes have been acquired free (Pepsi promotions, gift cards, single of the week, etc.). How does one upgrade those songs? I'd assume gift cards you'd still have to pay for it, but what about their promotional songs (especially say any single of the week). Not that this affects anything right now (how many SOW's are EMI anyway?) but it could eventually become an issue as/if more labels update in this way.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
I usually purchase full albums from ITMS. Does anyone know how we will be able to upgrade our previously purchased albums to the DRM-free equivalient?

I suspect that even though the full album price is not changing, upgrading a previously purchased album will require that we pay the per-song difference of $.30 for each song in the album, resulting in a roughly $3-$5 upgrade fee.

Good question. I'm guessing there will be SOME fee--hopefully not that high, but with album prices varying I do wonder what SIMPLE system they might work out.

The fact that albums are the same old price is the best part of this news. Singles were the big reason to use iTunes, but now albums just got more tempting.
 
Comment

studiomusic

macrumors regular
Oct 1, 2004
161
1
Round the world
Looks like CDBaby is going to be going DRM-free for all of it's tracks as well... Darek says "We're working on it".
I wonder if we'll be getting more per sale on those... (<plug>Check out: Kyria - Whispers In The Dark)
 
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grappler

macrumors regular
Oct 26, 2006
157
0
Great!

So when can we buy these tracks??

I haven't bought any songs from the iTunes store, but I will buy lots of songs under these terms. So when can I get started? Have they set a date?
 
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Avatar74

macrumors 65816
Feb 5, 2007
1,389
67
So when can we buy these tracks??

I haven't bought any songs from the iTunes store, but I will buy lots of songs under these terms. So when can I get started? Have they set a date?

As I understand it they were starting in May, but that doesn't necessarily mean May 1st.
 
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inkswamp

macrumors 68030
Jan 26, 2003
2,769
856
I'm not one to promote that tired old mythology about the ongoing Microsoft-Apple rivalry because, let's face it, they're both big companies with their own concerns and goals and they're definitely not sitting around plotting against each other like some Spy Vs. Spy strip.

But, you know damn well that this...

With the release of Windows Media 9, Microsoft made a huge bet on DRM.

... was in the back of Steve's mind when he started pushing this whole anti-DRM thing. :D

If anything, it's a brilliant business move, to fundamentally rearrange the playing field when the competition has so firmly staked their claim. I imagine MS isn't the only one scrambling today to rethink their strategies.
 
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inkswamp

macrumors 68030
Jan 26, 2003
2,769
856
Looks like CDBaby is going to be going DRM-free for all of it's tracks as well... Darek says "We're working on it".

Excellent news, and I'm sure there are more to follow! I hope iTunes incorporates a "search only non-DRM music" into their advanced search functions.
 
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pacohaas

macrumors 6502a
Jan 24, 2006
516
3
Has anybody thought about the size implications of this? You're essentially cutting the (albeit arbitrary) storage of a 80GB ipod from 20000 to 10000 songs. It becomes more apparent with shuffles and nano's where storage goes from 240 to 120 or 1000 to 500, etc.

Ideally, you'd be able to purchase the DRM free version and choose the quality that you want upon checkout(much like taking a CD and importing it via iTunes). To some people, having more songs is more important than having higher quality(DMR'd or not). If you're listening while jogging using the included earbuds, you're not likely to notice the difference between 96kbps AAC and 320kbps AAC, so why not store more songs at the lower level? But say you have your ipod hooked up to that fancy new iPod Hi-Fi, you're probably gonna want that 256kbps version, or at least 192, right?

Ultra-ideally, this $0.30 premium should get you an Apple Lossless copy to do with what you please, I mean, it's DRM-free so converting it to whatever format you want(even *gasp* wma for a zune) should be well within your rights as the buyer, and there's no reason you should suffer a loss of quality through re-encoding. This is exciting news to be sure, but I still don't see myself purchasing until it's equivalent to purchasing a CD(i.e. lossless and DRM free), consumers want flexibility(not just a choice between 2 options).

edit: my original thought when starting this reply was lost when I started the above rant, but here it is: by offering songs at twice the size, they'll be able to sell those higher-capacity(and higher cost) devices easier.
 
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