Apple announced today that they’ll start selling tracks on the iTunes Music Store without DRM. As an added bonus, those tracks will be 256kbps, rather than the 128kbps currently offered. This should make a big difference in quality. 128kbps AAC isn’t quite good enough, in my opinion, 256kbps is just about right.
Doing so also establishes 256kbps is the new quality standard. It’ll be interesting to see if the make 256kbps the default for ripping CDs with iTunes. If they do, it’ll speed up the growth in storage required by people’s music collections, which will mean it’ll be time for an iPod upgrade sooner.
Everyone in the world is already talking about it, but EMI and Apple have just announced that higher quality (256kbps AAC) DRM-free tracks of EMI’s catalog will be available for sale on the iTunes music store for a 30% premium.
This is huge news. As a consumer, I’m pretty happy about it. The existing iTMS offering has been sub-par (marginal bitrate, DRM encumbered) at a price that wasn’t quite attractive enough. As a result most of my music money has still been going for CDs. The improved product is much more attractive to me, at least when I’m only interested in one or two tracks.
I’ll be interested to see if the other labels follow suit on this. I imagine they’ll be happy at the chance to boost their average sales price for dowloadable music.
Update: The premium price only applies to single track purchases. Full album prices remain the same even without DRM and with a higher bit-rate. Sweet!