Universal goes DRM-free with 7digital

UK-based online music service, 7digital, has today begun selling music from Universal Music as 320k DRM-free MP3 downloads – the first time music from that particular major label has been made available in this way.

There’s been no announcement made of the move, which is highly significant as it comes at a point at which Universal has still failed to agree permission for Apple to offer its content DRM-free through the iTunes Plus service.

It also comes as Universal continues to explore iTunes alternatives.

It’s not an entirely unexpected move – new links with ISPs, the upcoming launch of Amazon’s MP3 store in Europe and strong success for Warner Music when it made its tracks available in MP3 format through 7digital all lend strength to the move.

7digital recently announced booming sales since the introduction of DRM-free tracks from Warner Music – sales increased 300% in 2008 fuelled by the Warner Music DRM-free MP3 catalogue becoming available for the first time in the UK and Europe.

“High-quality, DRM-free MP3 downloads have really sparked a new wave of digital music take up,” said 7digital CEO Ben Drury. “This format makes the digital music proposition simple for consumers with one universal format for all devices. Music lovers are beginning to realise that owning an iPod doesn’t mean just buying tracks from iTunes and, in fact, MP3’s are far superior in terms of compatibility. Since the introduction of EMI and Warner Music’s DRM-free catalogues we’ve been attracting increased numbers of iPod and iPhone users, as well as those using Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry, Sony Walkman devices and mobile phones.”

Approximately 80 per cent of 7digital.com’s 4 million track catalogue is now available in the MP3 format.

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