The Good, The Bad, and The DRM-Free

First 'naked' album from EMI.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy

On Monday, the face of digital music was potentially changed forever when record label EMI Group announced that it would be offering premium versions of its albums available for download, with better audio quality and no digital rights management (DRM) restrictions attached. Even more surprisingly, EMI's first partner in the endeavor is Apple's iTunes Store, which many would argue is the poster child for DRM's shortcomings.

EMI's DRM-free offerings won't be available on the iTunes Store until next month, but the label has announced that the first premium album, the self-titled LP from The Good, The Bad, and the Queen is available for purchase on the band's Web site. It's in MP3 form--the iTunes Store's version will be in Apple's preferred AAC audio format.

The Good, The Bad, and the Queen, as you may recall, gave a live performance prior to EMI and Apple's joint announcement on Monday. It's the latest project from British rocker Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame.

P.S.: Just to clarify, EMI has offered several DRM-free downloads in the past. This, however, is the first "premium" one to come with the enhanced audio quality, as part of EMI's new DRM-free initiative.