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MP3 Players

DRM-free music downloads outselling DRM by four to one

Online music store 7digital claims that DRM-free music sales are vastly outselling their protected alternatives, and that full album sales account for a massive percentage of downloads by value

For all you DRM-free supporters out there, we've been given exciting word of just how well unprotected content is selling on 7digital's online store. DRM-free tracks are outselling DRM'd versions at a rate of four to one. See? We told you so.

Not only that, but sales of complete albums account for 70 per cent of downloads by value -- an interesting contrast to the opinion that ad hoc downloading lets customers just pick their favourite tracks from albums.

In other interesting news, when given the choice, customers are plumping for the MP3 format instead of the AAC alternative, despite AAC technically being a more efficient codec, and the one used by the iTunes Store. The ubiquity of the term 'MP3' is almost certainly the reason for this. For one thing, we never hear portable music players referred to as 'AAC players', do we? It's always an 'MP3 player' -- even our own reviews section is called that, because that's what people look for.

7digital excited us back in June by offering EMI's entire catalogue in DRM-free format, including albums by Paul McCartney, with prices for albums starting at a fiver. The company told us over 60 per cent of its 3 million-track library is now available in DRM-free format, with the other 40 per cent to be available by summer of next year.

While we don't yet know how these sales figures compare to other stores, it's certainly a positive sign that DRM-free downloads are proving to be as popular as we all expected. But the real power and support for digital downloads won't truly take off until all four of the major labels get on board, or everyone realises mass-produced pop is crap and moves to support independent artists and labels. -Nate Lanxon