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Universal to sell DRM free songs, but not on iTunes

Scott McNulty

It is safe to say that most folks aren't big fans of DRM, though Apple's flavor of DRM (FairPlay) is flexible enough that most will never run afoul of it. You might remember Steve's letter to the music industry in which he extolled the virtues of DRM free music. EMI has been the only major record label to adopt this DRM free stance, and much of its catalog is available via iTunes Plus for $1.29 a song (you can still get the DRMed versions for $.99). EMI is about to have some company in the DRM free music biz, pretty soon.

The New York Times is reporting that the Universal Music Group is going to be selling part of its catalog sans DRM for the next few months to gauge consumer interest. This is great, but the only catch is that these DRM free songs won't be available via iTunes. Universal, in an effort to lessen Apple's dominance of the digital music market, will be offering up the DRM free music via Amazon, Google, RealNetworks, and Wal-Mart for $.99 a song (a price many accredit Apple to pioneering).

You might recall that Universal recently decided not to renew their contract with Apple to sell music in iTunes, and switched their commitment to a month by month basis. What does all this mean? I am betting that this experiment will succeed, and that Universal will reverse their decision and sell DRM free tracks via iTunes, why not sell your wares on the top online music store?

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