Digital Rights Management has been dealt another blow this week with the announcement that digital music outlet Rhapsody
would be switching to industry standard MP3 format for the majority of its music files.
According to an article on Wired
yesterday, the music store has opted to switch to MP3 format – which doesn't support the ailing digital rights management restrictions favoured by the big wheels of the music industry – in the interests of its music being able to “work on every basic digital music device that's ever been put out, including all the 'I' devices from Apple.
Nice to know it's because of customer demand, then.
Neil Smith, vice president at Rhapsody, chalks the change up to “the major [record] labels [becoming] more comfortable moving to MP3 formats for purchases
” in the last year. As well as making all five million files previously only accessible via the DRM enabled subscription service available for one-time purchasing in MP3 format, the company has also taken the interesting choice to offer free full-length samples for its members – although you are limited to twenty-five such 'freebies' in a given month and the service is only available to subscribers at the given time, with plans afoot to roll it out to all as soon as possible.
The pricing of the songs – currently set at the ever-popular 99¢ per track or $9.99 per album – is comparable to the popular iTunes store, with the added bonus that the lack of DRM means the songs are yours
to keep forever, not just until an authentication server somewhere goes offline.
In order to drum up interest in its DRM-free offerings, Rhapsody has also decided to offer a $10 credit to the first 100,000 accounts to be created. Although the accounts themselves are free, you will have to part with your credit card details – and the offer is only valid for residents of the United States.
Do you still rely on the purchase of physical media for your music, or is sensibly-priced digital distribution really the way forward? Share your thoughts over in the forums