All majors plot path to iTunes Plus DRM-free – report

We know Apple already offers music DRM-free through iTunes Plus from EMI, and are convinced reports Sony BMG is already preparing its music for introduction through the service, now it seems the two remaining majors Warner and Universal, are in “discussions” to offer their music DRM-free through Apple’s service as well.

That’s over a year since EMI signed-up, and in the meantime the majors have left the majority of legitimate music consumers, who overwhelmingly use iTunes, consigned to purchasing a flawed, DRM-laden product.

We’re hoping they reach a customer-focused deal to upgrade existing purchase at a non-punitious price.

CNet last night revealed, “Apple is in discussions with the other three top recording companies about acquiring DRM-free songs, according to two music industry sources.”

This report says no deals have been finalised for this, no deals are yet on the table and talks have been ongoing for several months. And reports conflict, with some blaming Apple for dragging its feet on introducing DRM-free music from the reluctant majors, and others claiming the majors are trying to influence market development.

Consumers, of course, don’t care: as realisation at the inherent risk of DRM grows, they’ll surely feel frustrated at the lack of offering through iTunes, no matter whose fault it is.

These moves emerge as majors happily license DRM-free music to Apple-competing services, such as Amazon MP3 or 7 Digital. It is about time they extended this to all legal digital music consumers – the seed of the Music 2.0 legal market.

Despite Cnet’s reluctance to commit to any schedule for these deals, that no deal is yet on the table suggests we may not see DRM-free music until after Christmas, potentially as an aside during next January’s Macworld Expo keynote speech. (We’d rather see these DRM-free tracks made available in advance of the season, though, rather than watch incumbents attempt to squeeze a few more pennies from music fans for what is essentially a limited product.)

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