Yes! It is true. Apple announced today that the entire iTunes library will soon be DRM-free. Now, you can play any and all iTunes purchases on any device or computer you care to. All I can say is HALLE-friggin’-LUAH.
It appears that a combination of consumer complaining, Amazon and Wal-Mart’s move to DRM-free, and an agreement by “the big four” to lighten up on rights helped to force Apple’s hand in creating a stir at MacWorld that would garner enough attention to over shadow the speculation on Steve Job’s health.
If that’s not enough, Apple also announced that tracks will now be offered at different prices, with older catalogue items going for 69 cents, while newer releases going for $1.29. Some tracks will still be offered at 99 cents, but Apple assures that most of the catalogue will be at the lower price point, lowering overall iTunes costs. Supposedly, for 30 cents a track, you can “remove” DRM from existing iTune purchases in your library, but I don’t think that will last for long. Why am I paying an additional 30 cents for a song I already bought and they already paid licensing on? Um, no. However, all in all…great news.
So, why now? Well…..glad you asked. You see, part of the announcement also detailed how Apple will begin to offer iTunes via 3G technology to it’s fast-growing population of iPhone-aholics. That provides the labels with a captive audience of 5 million tech-savvy, heavy spenders. Oh, and by the way, the correlation between music listeners and iPhone users is extremely high.
Will opening iPhones to over-air, iTunes purchases at affordable prices keep the sinking music industry afloat? It will certainly provide a short-term spike in sales, however with music now DRM-free, sharing will be easier and may actually discourage purchases among those technophiles who can simply transfer music between devices.
One thing is sure — the music industry is morphing, changing. While it won’t go quietly into the dark night, it is becoming more conducive to the market…as it should be.
Apple Marketing SVP, Phillip Schiller, gives us the details