Today Apple launches iTunes 7.2, which you may already have downloaded through the program’s Update feature. This wouldn’t be really any news if it weren’t for the main change included in this new version: “Support for iTunes Plus“.
Apparently this is how they’re going to call the new DRM-free tracks which Apple will be selling via the iTunes Store, after the deal they signed with EMI back in April. According to the terms of this agreement, the whole EMI music catalogue will be included in the iTunes store and sold without DRM, that is, without the limitations what prevent you from copying those tracks onto your portable MP3 player or recording them to a CD.
These DRM-free songs will be a little above the standard iTunes price ($1.29 each) but will also offer a higher sound quality, as they’re encoded at 256 kbps instead of the 128 kbps of current iTunes tracks.
The EMI-Apple agreement will turn the relationship between music and Internet upside down. While music companies seem to worry only about monetary profit and not so much about their clients –us music lovers, this deal will hopefully establish a precedent. In Steve Jobs’ words:
Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry
I think the industry needs to understand that, in the battle for music rights, sometimes resigning to your so-called enemy is the best and fastest way to victory. It’s not about imposing more and more legal limitations to music online distribution, which is actually hard –if not impossible to stop. It’s about finding a balance between company profits and consumer satisfaction. Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI group, summarizes it pretty well:
Apple has been a true pioneer in digital music, and we are delighted that they share our vision of an interoperable market that provides consumers with greater choice, quality, convenience and value for money.