Apple announced today that nearly all of the music sold on iTunes will be 100% DRM free. DRM, or Digital Rights Management, has been the bane of the music downloading world since its inception. DRM is a security method to prevent people from copying and distributing music illegally which sounds good on the surface but because of the complexity of our changing lives and music playing products only proved to hamper and anger consumers.
With all of the major record labels on board, this signals a significant change in the music industry and how consumers will view and use music playing devices as well. With so many players out there and with varying standards and competing DRM types creating chaos for users, it is a refreshing change to see the music industry putting aside its fears of rampant music theft putting them out of business which is what they feared most.
Last year, Steve Jobs had posted an open letter with his feelings about DRM and his desire to eliminate it from music on iTunes. Last year also saw the music industry try to change music pricing on iTunes to a tiered rate instead of the standard 99 cent per song offering that was a standard on iTunes. It's not too much of a leap to guess that some serious arm twisting went on between the two that led to concessions to allow this very welcome change to happen.
Starting this April, music on iTunes will range from 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, with most albums still priced at $9.99.In turn, most, if not all music will be DRM free and available at a higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for improved audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings.
Another announcement today includes the ability for iPhone 3G users to preview and purchase any and all music from iTunes and have the ability to download music over wireless 3G service. Before today, iPhone users were limited to and required to have a WiFi connection to download content and had a limited music catalog to choose from. This change does not include previous 2G iPhone models which still require a WiFi connection.