Monday, April 02, 2007

New Apple-EMI deal boon for jazz and classical lovers

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the last few hours, you have heard about EMI's plan to offer DRM-free music on Apple's iTunes Store starting sometime in May. Essentially, EMI tracks on iTunes will be offered in two formats: the old DRMed version at 128 kbps for 99 cents and the new un-DRMed version at 256 kbps for $1.29. So iTunes Store patrons will have the choice of paying a premium for better quality audio and interoperability. From what I have read, the general opinion has been mixed.

One little detail that is not mentioned often is that the price for an album will remain the same, whether it is DRMed or not. Now if you're primarily a consumer of pop music, this will likely not change your buying habits. However, for classical and jazz lovers--who usually buy whole albums (actually, I am just assuming this; I have no empirical knowledge)--this is a wonderful development. Essentially, you can buy the same jazz and classical albums you would have purchased anyway, but now you get better quality (apparently, virtually indistinguishable from CD quality), no DRM--and the price is absolutely the same. Any hesitations I have previously had about buying classical and jazz CDs from the iTS have pretty much disappeared.

Assuming the artist is on EMI, that is.

At the very least, however, this should give an even further boost to on-line classical record sales, which saw a significant increase in 2006. Let's hope the other labels jump on the bandwagon soon.

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