An article in the New York Times today notes that Apple is set to drop DRM (digital rights management) on music purchased through the iTunes music store from (initially, via the story) 3 of the 4 major record labels, Sony, Universal and Warner (EMI has already been selling DRM-free music). Apple will also remove the set price of $.99 for singles, varying pricing anywhere from $.69 up to $1.29.
I see this as a positive step for a few reasons… One; the arcane DRM used makes it quite difficult to move one’s music around to different machines, or to be used on non-Apple music players (that’s you, Mr. Zune). I for one have several computers and I’m currently down to 1 remaining authorization to play music I legally bought from the store. As a result; I actually have stopped buying all music from the iTunes music store, and I imagine, that there are people out there like me who have stopped buying music online for the exact same reason. Yes, I’m aware of the fact that there are other online options (Amazon, to name one) but honestly; I (like a lot of people) use iTunes to manage my music library since frankly; its a pretty damn good program. Plus, the store is organized very well and the search feature is great. I’m also excited that Apple is offering to strip music already purchased of its embedded DRM.
Secondly, I see a variable pricing structure to work in everyone’s favor, and hopefully; that might give smaller/independent artists the ability to create worth from the music, but still have it inexpensive enough that (maybe??) more fans and casual listeners would be interested in purchasing it. (Seriously, $.69 for a song that you can bring everywhere? You could buy half a record for less than the cost of a medium soy latte!).
I’ll be curious to see how/if this impacts the industry.
Political blogger Matt Yglesias has a few words on overly priced intellectual property
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