It was only a couple of months ago that iTunes Plus.EMI was going to offer its music DRM-free, meaning you can play it on whatever device you like. The announcement wasn't a total surprise, and it was greeted by the tech world -- well, us anyway -- with ecstatic praise. Yesterday morning, an updated version of the iTunes software was made available but there was no immediate sign of any updates to the iTunes Store. A few hours later however, EMI's entire back catalogue of music went live on iTunes under the name
iTunes Plus is the name given by Apple to the DRM-free, super high-quality versions of the songs available in the store (256kbps AAC, up from 128kbps AAC, for those interested). Currently that's just EMI's catalogue, but Steve Jobs -- the Daddy of Apple -- said yesterday that there are a huge number of indie labels wanting to get their stuff on iTunes without DRM and at a higher quality.
The new tracks cost 20p more (99p rather than 79p) to buy individually, though single album sales remain at the same price. Users who have already purchased songs from iTunes can upgrade their files to the new higher-quality versions for about £2 per album. This is a lovely geek touch -- press a button and your music levels up. We tried to upgrade a mere 50 tracks yesterday, however, and it took hours, so either there are technical issues or initial demand was astronomical.
If you support the DRM-free movement -- and you should -- then maybe show your support by dropping a few quid on a couple of DRM-free albums from iTunes. Alternatively, you could try emusic, which offers a huge selection of DRM-free indie tracks.
Jobs plans on having half of the entire store DRM-free by the end of the year. It's truly a red-letter day for music fans everywhere. -Nate Lanxon