I’ll join the parade of excitement about this morning’s announcement that Apple will be selling EMI’s entire catalog DRM-free for $1.29/song for singles and the same price for albums. First, this would be a fantastic non-lame April Fool’s prank. I can just picture all the music execs laughing at the music geeks saying “I’m in ur iPod, locking ur tunes”.
Even better though, it appears real. Now I suspect EMI is making this move because music sales are down, DRM seems to have done little to stop piracy and more to solidify iTunes as the online distribution channel (despite the shaky iTunes songs per iPod numbers Jobs’ calculated). But who cares about their true motivation?
The new pricing scheme reminds me of a conversation on TalkCrunch with Yahoo Music Execs about DRM when they quoted similar numbers about consumers vastly preferring non-DRM to DRM. They stated that it is viewed as a tax, and estimated that there would need to be a 15-20% price difference to reach equilibrium between the two options. (They also had some good insights on how it is often not the labels themselves that want DRM, but their corporate parents.) Looks like EMI is starting higher on singles, but offering better encodings (at 256kbps) as well.
Now the interesting questions are whether this will actually increase sales and whether other major labels will follow suit. Of course, sites like emusic has been offering DRM-free music at lower prices for a while, but without the catalog of the major labels. And these kids today still don’t like to pay for music.