Blog Post

DRM Free Universal Music… Just Not On Apple's iTunes

[qi:029] Universal Music Group is conducting an experiment where it will offer a large part of its catalog DRM free for six months, except that it won’t be available on the largest digital download store of them all – Apple’s iTunes. The most-backward looking music company in business is still calling their decision “a test” and the fact that they are willing to forego sales from iTunes, tells us they are not exactly serious about offering DRM-free music. UMG recently made a decision not to sign a long term deal with Apple (AAPL).

Nevertheless, the cat fight between UMG and Apple is likely to give rivals such as Real (RNWK), WalMart and Amazon (AMZN) a boost. Real’s Rhapsody digital music service will soon start selling DRM-free albums and tracks as part of a six-month test with UMG, the world’s leading music company. Real plans to charge 89 cents per track for Rhapsody subscribers and 99 cents for non-subscribers.

6 Responses to “DRM Free Universal Music… Just Not On Apple's iTunes”

  1. We can’t say. If Universal decides to get serious about digital music it could be a very difficult situation for Apple. However, at this point we are still unable to see where they are going with this.

    Many major artists are releasing albums in the upcoming quarter, if UMG decides to heavily promote alternative channels to purchase music, it may very well end the “lack of awareness” and help level the playing field in terms on online entertainment purchases.

    Heck, all if really would take is hiring some key execs away from Apple to get the ball rolling.

  2. In his famous article “Marketing Myopia” Professor Ted Leavitt described the buggy whip industry and observed that no amount of product improvement could prevent the evaporation of the industry.

    The record industry is on its way to becoming a new buggy whip industry. Eliminating DRM is the kind of ineffective product improvement Leavitt described.

    The industry needs to reinvent itself is a free, ad-supported medium.

    Check out the Ad-Supported Music Central blog:

  3. By not including iTunes, the test is bogus. People turn to piracy when they can’t get what they want legitimately and cheaply. By not having these DRM-free tracks on iTunes, the bulk of the digital music buying public will be largely unaware that Universal has done anything. As sad and shortsighted as it is, it seems Universal are just looking for excuses to insist that ‘DRM is necessary’.