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Universal tests DRM-free music, snubs iTunes

updated 08:45 am EDT, Fri August 10, 2007

Universal Music DRM Free

Universal Music Group announced late yesterday that it will sell at least some of its music catalog online without copy protection over the course of the next few months. Considered an experiment by the major music label, the project will run between August and January and will gauge the effect that removing digital rights management (DRM) has on both sales and on piracy. There are no immediate conditions applied to the success of the test, but the company has implied that it will extend the test or make the DRM-free option permanent if the results prove worthwhile. The latter decision would likely make a significant impact on the music industry, as Universal is the largest global music label and could create a ripple effect for smaller labels.

The test will primarily offer music through companies that have readily adopted DRM, such as RealNetworks' Rhapsody and Wal-Mart, as well as artist pages and companies that have opted out of protected formats, such as Amazon's MP3-only store and an unknown project from Google.

Absent from the list, however, is the iTunes Store. Universal has not explained why it has omitted the Apple-run service from the trial run, but is widely believed to be retaliating against what it sees as unfair influence by Apple on Universal and on the music business as a whole through the former's status as the leading online store. Universal has continued to sell its catalog on iTunes but recently refused long-term contracts in part to allow it the flexibility of offering exclusives to other stores and therefore encourage competition.

The decision to try music without safeguards also casts doubts on claims that Universal's attitude was spurred by opposition to iTunes Plus, as the label appears to be shifting away from a pro-DRM stance in a manner similar to rival label EMI, which had previously insisted on copy protection but offered all of its catalog without protection at an elevated price beginning in April.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. FastAMX79

    Junior Member

    Joined: Sep 2000

    0

    i understand...

    They put DRM-Free music on the services with the fewest number of subscribers, and when the music doesn't sell, they will say 'See... people don't want DRM-Free music' even-though LOTS of people want DRM-Free music. god forbid the music labels give the people what they want...

    Unless this is the music companies way of trying to take out Apple. It must be the cool thing to do...bash Apple. Apple is like the kick-me doll of the electronics world, and it's not right.

  1. jcatma61

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2006

    0

    First it was Sony...

    generating Mac-hating CDs and DVDs. Jobs should have bought and sold these idiots when he had the chance.

    Can't tell you when the last time was that I bought a CD in the store.

    Get with it, Universal. Fast.

  1. godrifle

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    0

    I for one...

    ...won't buy another Universal product until they stop f*cking Mac and iTunes users.

  1. mgpalma

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2000

    0

    Snubbing iTunes

    As I posted on playlists site... It's very simple. I either buy CD's or AAC files from iTunes. If it's not offered through iTunes I won't be buying them. A lot of times I buy used CD's if I am going to buy one at all, so they won't be seeing any additional revenue from me. Their loss.

  1. Deal

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Apr 2001

    0

    Wouldn't it be funny

    If Apple dropped Universal from iTunes?

    They are just universally stupid!

  1. zdezyne

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2001

    0

    Too bad for Universal

    I guess they won't be getting my business. I'm not about to sign up for a new service just to get their DRM-free music. I enjoy the iTunes ecosystem and the convenience it offers even if the music has DRM. I only purchase CDs in very special cases like collections that include a DVD or something so if Universal is going to snub iTunes and eventually start reducing the number of artists they release on it I guess I will have to resort to having my friends rip me a copy of a Universal artists' CD 'cause they won't be getting my business anymore. Universal just wants to charge more and increase prices for singles and albums and reduce Apple's leverage in the music industry. That's the bottom line.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Huh?

    They put DRM-Free music on the services with the fewest number of subscribers, and when the music doesn't sell, they will say 'See... people don't want DRM-Free music' even-though LOTS of people want DRM-Free music. god forbid the music labels give the people what they want...

    Well, if they did that, they would just show the idiocy of themselves, because it doesn't matter the physical number they sell, its about the percentage. But what's the point in doing it at all if they are trying to say "It won't sell". They've been doing quite well with the "We're not going no-DRM, so STFU!" line up til now.

    Unless this is the music companies way of trying to take out Apple. It must be the cool thing to do...bash Apple. Apple is like the kick-me doll of the electronics world, and it's not right.

    Oh, poor Apple! Maybe they're taking it out on Apple because Apple has used its power to demand the prices and options they want. Maybe if Apple wasn't so damned stubborn, they wouldn't be getting kicked around so much.

    I for one... ...won't buy another Universal product until they stop f*cking Mac and iTunes users.

    How do we know this won't work for iTunes/iPod/Mac users? I found no mention of the format to be used (MP3 or AAC or WMAA or what?) So its just as likely will work with iTunes. Or are you just pissed because you'd have to buy it through some other way, not through iTunes?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: too bad for universal

    I guess they won't be getting my business. I'm not about to sign up for a new service just to get their DRM-free music. I enjoy the iTunes ecosystem and the convenience it offers even if the music has DRM. I only purchase CDs in very special cases like collections that include a DVD or something...

    So, when you buy CDs in 'special cases', do you also get these from one vendor (say, you just buy your CDs from Amazon.com)? How come people have no problem getting a CD from wherever its cheapest or offers the best deal, be it Amazon.com, Best Buy, eBay, whatever, but then when it comes to digital music, its now "If it ain't on iTunes, I don't want to be bothered".

    And maybe Universal is right. At least one person here is OK with DRM.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007

    0

    testing

    "If Apple wasn't so damned stubborn..." they'd have folded shortly after Gil Amilio left. ;)

  1. sgirard

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2005

    0

    Who cares?

    Nothing stops us from buying DRM-free songs and dropping them into our iPods. Sure it might not be as convenient as iTunes, but if you really want the DRM-free stuff, buy it wherever it's sold and put it in your iTunes Library. Or am I missing something here?

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