Will music industry dance again to Apple’s tune?

CNET recently posted an article looking at Apple’s deal with EMI to sell music without software restrictions (Digital Rights Management). Last wednesday they launched the new service with an update of iTunes to version 7.2 and hope that this will bring the rest of the music industry with them. However, some are worried that the new service was not heavily promoted enough and might be on shaky ground.

Greg Scholl, president and CEO of The Orchard, a New York-based music distribution and marketing company shares some of his thoughts:

I would think that if you’re a major label and you don’t want something to work, the best plan would be to hide it… The only way we’re going to discover the right way to grow the market is by experimenting. I think the price Apple is charging is still too high and will probably inhibit (sales). But right now there isn’t enough data to know what the right pricing is or how to market digital music. At least Apple is trying something new.

This move by Apple has many reasons behind it. They have had some trouble with European regulators, who want the company to open up iTunes to third-party hardware makers. By removing the copy restrictions, this allows users to put the music on mp3 players other than iPods.

Many other e-music distributors are beginning to follow Apple’s suit in making un-DRM’d songs available for purchase. Microsoft did an about-face in April and announced plans to offer DRM-free music from EMI and others. Amazon is anther player trying this out, with a new digital music store due to open soon which woul also feature unprotected music.

The big question here is what if this becomes extremely popular? Many more players would certainly throw all their weight into the ring, and perhaps even a few of the big record labels would follow suit.

In this situation, the record companies can only benefit, said Scholl.

EDIT: This article by the BBC is of some related interest.

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