Apple and EMI have finally taken the next step in making online music sales a more powerful threat to the physical CD by offering DRM-free versions of their entire catalog. DRM, or digital rights management, has made it less than appealing for some music fans to purchase albums online with such limitations. The other great part of this EMI deal is that the DRM-free versions will be of higher quality, moving up from 128 kbps AAC to 256 kbps AAC.
With the shackles of DRM being removed and the sound quality improving, of course there must be a catch. For these new and improved tunes from EMI, you will now pay $1.29 per song. The 99 cent versions will still be available, but will remain in their current DRM/lower quality form.
To celebrate the deal, The Good, The Bad And The Queen performed "Herculean" and "Green Fields" at the EMI headquarters in London. Their debut album is the first to get the DRM-free treatment, which will be followed by the rest of the company's catalog. So which mega music conglomerate will be next to ditch digital rights management encoding on their online catalogs? Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expecting more than half of the entire iTunes library to be available DRM-free, which we think is a step in the right direction.