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With the release of iTunes Plus (Geez, Apple, could you have waited much later in May?) iTunes users can now decide whether they’re interested in DRM-free single tracks for an additional 30¢. But it’s DRM-free albums that are far more interesting to me.
When the iTunes Music Store debuted, it was the first place to purchase individual tracks — the concept that made the original Napster so popular (other than the no-cost factor, of course). So I loved the iTunes Music Store for giving me the ability to buy individual songs for only 99¢.
But I found myself rarely purchasing albums, despite their (usually) $9.99 price tag. The lack of the CD booklet and the DRM restrictions (can’t convert files to play on other systems like TiVo, MP3CDs) were drawbacks compared to just picking up an album at a local retailer or via Amazon.com. In addition, the quality of the downloads wasn’t as high as a CD. So I generally only downloaded an album if I couldn’t find it nearby at a reasonable price, needed it immediately or didn’t care too much about the quality.
Now that albums from EMI and its subsidiary labels are available without DRM, at twice the quality and at reasonable prices, I have almost no qualms about buying entire albums from iTunes.
Take, for instance, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I previously would never have considered purchasing this album via iTunes. But now I can purchase it for only $7.99 and get high quality files without DRM restrictions. Meanwhile, at Amazon.com, the physical CD is selling for $9.99 and I’d have to pay shipping and wait for it to show up. No wonder it’s currently the top-selling iTunes Plus album.
So while music labels may fret that removing DRM from digital music sales is going to result in increased piracy, that action is actually going to increase album sales greatly, at least to me. So get on board, Universal, Sony BMG and Warner (and Disney).