updated 01:40 pm EST, Mon January 7, 2008
Sony DRM-free Music
Sony BMG earlier today made its first steps towards joining other labels in eliminating copy protection from music downloads. Rather than offer content through iTunes or other stores directly, Sony will buy cards at stores for the company's Platnium MusicPass service; redeemed cards will then be good for a certain number of tracks in MP3 format from the company's music catalog. Each card will cost about $13 each and should provide access to about 37 albums on launch with more on the way, Sony BMG says. It launches in North American retail chains starting from the 15th and should expand to other territories later on.
The music producer has not explained the reasoning behind the decision, which will make Sony BMG's music more expensive than other DRM-free music offered by competitors such as EMI, Universal, and Warner. The latter three all offer albums without copy protection to varying degrees through stores such as Amazon MP3 and iTunes and typically sell albums for $10 each, significantly less than Sony's offering.
The official news partly confirms claims that Sony BMG is gradually changing its approach to music and will offer its library through Amazon's store before April. No mention is made in the earlier report of the MultiPass cards, however, suggesting instead that direct Internet purchases would be the primary strategy instead of retail cards.