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iTunes goes DRM Free

This isn’t new news to anyone, but its significant in that most everyone will be able to get DRM free music out of iTunes.  Ever since the dawn of iTunes, music has been tied to your Apple ID, and not playable on anything other than an authorized computer and a connected iPod (be it a Shuffle, Nano, iPod, Touch, iPhone, etc.)

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Recently, Apple has cut deals that will finally enable iTunes to offer DRM free songs from the three largest music labels, according to two sources close to the negotiations. In exchange, Apple has agreed bend on their pricing schemes.

Under the terms of the deal, song prices will be broken down into three categories:

older songs from the catalog,
midline songs (newer songs that aren’t big hits),
and current hits

Apple has offered songs free of digital rights management protections from EMI for more than a year; but EMI accounts for less than 10 percent of music sold in the U.S. This new deal will expand iTunes’ DRM-free library to include songs from Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner Music.

While DRM free music is going to make most everyone happy, it does come with a caveat – increased cost. While many have been happy with Apple’s ability and hard line against tiered pricing, it seems that they gave in to expand their catalog.  In a way, I can’t blame them.  Getting music from the other labels was an important win for them.

The upside to all of this that catalog music is falling from $.99 to $.79 per song. Hit singles will likely be priced above $.99, but they will eventually fall to $.79.  Before anyone gets upset at the price increases they have likely, already seen, we haven’t had a price increase in the iTunes Music Store for over 5 years.  Songs that were $.99 in 2002 would cost $1.71 today, following inflation, and other cost indicators.

One of the things that you may have noticed is a special offer to remove the DRM from all of your current music. The cost will differ depending on the type and amount of music you’ve purchased. I’m also not certain how long the offer will last.  If DRM free is something that’s important to you for your older music, you may want to jump on this offer while it lasts…

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