Will The Music Industry Switch To Unencrypted MP3s To Compete With Apple?

Dec 6th, 2006 | By | Category: Digital Music, iPods & Portable Media Players

The mainstream music industry is experimenting with selling unencrypted MP3 files, a move it has long resisted because of concerns over piracy.

Blue Note Records is selling the latest single from jazz-pop singer Norah Jones, Thinking About You, through Yahoo as an MP3. Another EMI act, Christian rock band Relient K, also released two MP3s through Yahoo yesterday.

The move may be an experiment to see if the music industry can break Apple’s control over the digital music download market. The mainstream industry failed to make a dent in the market with services offering music encrypted with Microsoft’s PlaysForSure, a technology that now has an uncertain future. Microsoft’s latest digital music service for the Zune is a closed system, like Apple’s.

Unencrypted MP3s provide a way for the music industry to sell digital music downloads, without being locked into either Microsoft’s or Apple’s technology, and opens up their potential audience to anyone with a computer.

The move comes as some high-tech and music-industry executives are becoming concerned about Apples growing dominance in the digital music business. Currently, the majority of digital music downloads sold are via the iTunes music store, and iPod owners can’t easily use tracks downloaded from most other digital music services. By selling standard MP3 files, companies can sell tracks that will work on iPods.

Blue Note General Manager Zach Hochkeppel called the initiative “an experiment.” One risk of the move is that the tracks are likely to quickly make their way onto file sharing networks. Because of this probability, major labels are likely to limit this option to promotional singles for the near future.

While Apple’s iTunes store has been the first service to successfully sell major label music as digital downloads, it’s success has meant that Apple has been able to set download prices and control what music gets exposure.
via WSJ

No Responses to “Will The Music Industry Switch To Unencrypted MP3s To Compete With Apple?”

  1. Steve Dinn says:

    I’ve been doing a music podcast for an online music store, Zunior.com, since May 2006. Zunior was founded over two years ago on the principle that all music should be DRM-free, and all artists sold on the site share this belief. Since the site is Canadian, all albums on the site are priced in Canadian dollars (cheap for Americans!) and are priced at just $8.88. Most albums are available in both 192 kbps MP3 and FLAC formats.

    Check out the Zunior.com Manifesto, and of course, the Zunior.com Podcast.


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