It's official! EMI will make their entire catalog available on iTunes DRM-Free. In press converence last night in London EMI's CEO Eric Nicoli and Apple's Steve Jobs made the announcement and took questions. Here are the major details.
- The EMI Catalog will be available DRM-Free on iTunes in May
- The format is AAC 256kbps (twice the standard quality)
These Premium Tracks will be available for $1.29
- Entire albums will be sold DRM-free and higher quality at no additional cost
The Premium Tracks will be available alongside the standard versions that
include DRM for $0.99
- For $0.30 customers will be able to upgrade any existing EMI music they bought to the higher quality, DRM-free version
There seems to be some ambiguity on #4, according to EMI's Press Release:
Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price.
That would indicate that there would not be two options when buying an entire EMI album, customers would always get the premium version when they buy the album. However, Apple makes no reference to complete albums in their press release. Additionally, Steve Jobs said in the press conference:
We are going to address both these issues [DRM and sound quality] by introducing new version of our songs and albums that will be sold alongside our existing version. The new versions will be DRM-Free so they are completely interoperable and they will be encoded in 256 AAC...
Source - at about time 23:32
So next month we'll see if EMI albums automatically come in Premium format or if there's an option. Hopefully, the Premium album will be the same price as the standard album as was stated in the press release. Additionally, Steve Jobs predicts that half the iTunes catalog will be available DRM-Free by the end of the year by having more record labels agree to sell music DRM-Free. Also, EMI's CEO Eric Nicoli said that Premium Tracks would be available to other retailers including places like emusic.com.