EMI To Go DRM-Free

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that EMI, a Big Four music label and RIAA member, will release “significant amounts of its catalogue” unencumbered by DRM. The announcement from EMI is expected at an 8 a.m. EST press conference in London, featuring Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Privately most labels rejected the idea out of hand, but EMI, the world’s third-largest music company by sales, was already quietly exploring the idea of dropping DRM. EMI has struggled to overcome poor results and a laggard digital strategy, potentially contributing to its willingness to take a bold stance on DRM.

EMI will make the DRM-free portions of its catalogue available for download via iTunes. We wonder how the RIAA will react. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

EMI to Sell Much of its Music Without Antipiracy Software [WSJ] (Subscription req’d)
PREVIOUSLY: EMI May Unshackle Catalogue, Usher In Second Dawn Of DRM-Free Music


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlexPDL says:

    OK this has GOT to be an April fool’s joke right?

  2. ahwannabe says:

    Wow! People may actually *buy* their product now. Imagine that.

  3. apeguero says:

    Is that pig really flying? Home? Or April Fools?

  4. letoofdune says:

    I just wish once and for all the RIAA and the music industry would decide if we’re buying the right to license their music, or if we’re buying their music.

    I figure that if I purchase a song over the internet, I should be allowed to burn it as many times to as many CDs as I’d like, excepting the fact that I’m not making profit off of them.

  5. Firstborn Dragon says:

    That’s what I’m wondering. Seems a bit too good to be true in light of the resent complaints about DRM free music.

  6. TPK says:

    Ironic that this would break on April Fool’s Day, but unless they fooled a LOT of people, it appears to be so:


  7. asherchang says:

    flying piggie! ^-^

  8. fadedsignal says:

    “…featuring Apple CEO Steve Jobs”

    Upon his arrival, and after stepping off from his highest of horses; someone should pose the following question:

    Why is it, if you are so against DRM and the RIAA; that Apple and Itunes slaps DRM on music from unsigned and independent bands?

  9. Morton Fox says:

    I thought *this* was the April Fool’s joke too, at first.

  10. williamryall says:

    I have got to stop reading news stories on April 1st, I can never work out what’s real and what’s not.

    If this is true, it’s nice to see what DRM is going to be abolished for EMI. Way to do something which isn’t reactive!

  11. HawkWolf says:

    I think sometimes, people either forget about April Fool’s Day (perhaps because their business is so rushed that they just picked a day using some ‘time estimating algorithm’ and stuck with what the day was) or knowingly schedule real news that people will not believe at first.

    Remember Google Mail? “Ha ha free email with like a gigabyte of storage, that’s an awesome april fool’s prank!…….. wait, you mean it’s not a prank!?”

  12. Lars says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t everything you buy at the iTunes store come with DRM attached to it? So either this is just one layer of DRM removed with Apple still slapping on their own DRM, or is iTunes going to actually have a DRM free section of their store? I find it highly unlikely that the music will truly be DRM free.

  13. Mr. Gunn says:

    Even if this is real, they’ll find a way to make it suck so that they can say, “See, we tried going DRM-free and look what happened!”

    /yea pigs!

  14. mac-phisto says:
  15. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music.


  16. chemman says:

    Has any one seen a price yet on these new DRM free songs? I noticed they state they are offering a premium song service that will come without DRM so I am curious what the non-DRM songs will cost versus the DRM’d ones? I think this is a great step forward but I don’t know if I’d be willing to pay $2 or more per song to not have DRM, I’d rather just by the CD at that point and rip them myself.

  17. This is great news, but the price?

    $1.29 a song.


  18. formergr says:

    I’m not so familiar with how the DRM works. If as stated in the PC Mag article linked above they will still be in AAC-encoded format, will you still lose sound quality by converting to mp3? And will you still need to burn the AAC file to a CD to then convert to mp3?

    If so, I’m not clear on how this is different/better…

  19. formergr says:

    I’m not so familiar with how the DRM works. If as stated in the PC Mag article linked above they will still be in AAC-encoded format, will you still lose sound quality by converting to mp3? And will you still need to burn the AAC file to a CD to then convert to mp3?

    If so, I’m not clear on how this is different/better.

  20. @formergr: The files will be in a higher quality and will be able to play on other devices, not just iPods. They’re also saying there will be no “usage restrictions”.

    I haven’t been able to find these tracks in the iTunes store though.

  21. rekoil says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: According to the press release they won’t be available until May. Re-encoding that many songs takes time…

  22. formergr says:

    How will they be able to play on devices other than iPods if they are still AAC-encoded as stated in the articles? This is the missing information (for which there is likely a very simple explanation I’m just not familiar with) that’s confusing me…

  23. JuliusJefferson says:

    There are some other digital music players that can play AAC files. And also, unless they have DRM, you can convert AAC files to high bitrate mp3 right in iTunes (or many other programs) with little to no quality reduction.

  24. mac-phisto says:

    @formergr: a lot of other players already play unprotected AAC files – zune, any sony player (including psp), sandisk, & i think even creative labs. after all, AAC is just another mpeg-4 audio file. it’s a common misconception that AAC means apple-only – it’s actually a widely used file type.

  25. lihtox says:

    @mac-phisto: Also, newer players will probably start adding AAC to their list of supported formats, if this gets off the ground–which is a win for Apple versus Microsoft’s WMA format.

  26. lihtox says:

    @loquaciousmusic: The files are purportedly of higher quality, partly justifying the higher price. Plus, I’m thinking that might be the carrot to get other studios to follow suit; they’ve been trying to get Apple to raise their prices for ages now.

    I’ve also read (in a comments section somewhere) that album prices will not go up.

  27. formergr says:

    Got it, thanks for the explanations everyone!

  28. lhutz34 says:

    Engadget has also reported that album prices will not go up – this is great news. I have no problem with paying an extra quarter for a single, and probably wouldn’t squawk too much if albums went from $10 to $13 (the average CD passed $13 a long time ago), but keeping most albums at $10 is a masterstroke, and encourages more album sales (wasn’t itunes supposed to kill the album as a format?). The upgrade fee is kind of a pain, but an extra $3-4/album to double the quality and ditch the DRM sounds good to me. If you compare it to fifteen years ago when we all upgraded our tapes to CDs, its a pretty good deal. As long as they don’t go overboard with incremental upgrades (the next upgrade should be full CD quality or better), this is a winning move.

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    Higher rez and DRM-free for $0.30 more. It’s fair.

    I think every freaken whiner that was saying Apple is the devil b/c it was in favor of DRM – not the labels – should now beat their forehead against their monitor until rivelets of blood are running down their face, screaming in abject remorse, “I’m sorry, I’m SORRY!”

    Then post here in hair-cringing detail the experience.

    JEEZUS what a buncha whining, blame-shifting, reality-impaired nimrods.

    You owe Jobs an apology and us one too, for steadfastedly sticking to your nonsensical yammering. I want the time you wasted from my life back.

    (then afters, all is forgiven. Kumbaya!!)

  30. joopiter says:

    I did a quick search to see if there was a response from the RIAA on one of their member labels breaking ranks and couldn’t find anything. Anybody see a response yet?

    I also went to the RIAA website looking for their response. And now I feel dirty. :(

  31. jitrobug says:

    Now that there’s this great movement to hold the individual labels responsible for doing things like suing children and elderly cripples.. how does EMI stand with regard to RIAA’s greatest hits of abusive lawsuits?

  32. biledemon says:

    This is by far an outlandish lie. It’s past April’s fools day.