After news broke last week that Play.com had launched PlayDigital, offering DRM free music to its customers in direct competition with iTunes, Warner has now increased pressure on Apple by striking a deal to sell its own catalogue DRM free to customers of 7digital.
7digital is one of the biggest online music retailers and has now started selling more than 150 of the most popular albums from Warner, £3 cheaper than iTunes offers the same music for. The deal will allow customers who do not own an iPod and don’t use iTunes to get access to Warner’s offerings.
The DRM protection Apple uses on tracks sold through its iTUnes service has been a frustration for many music lovers for a long time, as in essence it is meant to prevent customers transferring music to portable music devices that are not iPods.
By offering tracks in a DRM free format Warner’s albums are available to customers of 7digital in Britain, Spain, Ireland, France and Germany and playable on almost all digital music players. Material owned by Warner includes that from artists such as Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
With the deal 7 Digital becomes the first major European download sevice offering Warner Music and EMI tracks in the MP3 file format. PlayDigital itself is yet to strike a deal to sell the Warner music catalogue. 7digital are also said to be in talks with Sony BMG and Universal to sell DRM titles from the catalogues of these big industry players.
“The addition of Warner Music’s MP3 catalogue means that over 80 per cent of 7digital.com’s 3.5 million track catalogue is now DRM-free.” - Ben Drury, 7digital’s CEO
7digital hope to make their entire catalogue DRM free by 2008.
This deal is just one example of how, due to a decline in CD sales and increased illegal music downloads, the record industry is being forced to find new ways to appeal to music fans.
“Hopefully this will lead to a price war, as I think Apple have had things their own way for too long and are simply too expensive.” - Tim Wiggins of Stuff Magazine