It has been a long time coming, but Apple has finally announced that iTunes is going DRM-free. As in, all songs on the iTunes site will ditch DRM. That's everything from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI along with thousands of indie labels. All with their musical offerings now available in the iTunes Plus DRM-free format.
According to Apple the iTunes Store will begin offering eight million songs in the DRM-free format immediately, with the remaining two million songs offered in iTunes Plus by the end of March.
But at what cost? Apple might have ditched DRM, but it has also ditched flat-rate pricing which means you could end up paying less, or more, for your tracks come April when the new pricing structure is introduced.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirms this, telling us "in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points — 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29 — with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29." This despite earlier claims that Apple would rather close iTunes than charge higher prices.
If you want your existing library of previously purchased iTunes songs upgraded to DRM-free status complete with higher quality encoding, no problem. Apple says that this is a simple one-click process. It also says it will 'only' charge you 30 cents per song, or 30 percent of the album price if you purchased them as an entire album. Gee, thanks for being so kind Apple. Not. But then things are never easy for the DRM-free fan.
Also new is the ability for iTunes customers to download their songs directly onto their Apple Console Experience or iPhone 3G as the rest of us call it, over the mobile network, for the same price as downloading to their computer. Songs purchased on an iPhone will automatically sync to a user’s computer the next time they sync their iPhone.