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August 13, 2007

UMG Snubs iTunes in DRM-free Sales

Universal Music is set to sell DRM-free tracks on several music stores with one notable exception: iTunes.  The "experiment" starts on August 21 of this year for a limited amount of time.  Universal will be looking to see if there is an up-tick in piracy before they make the program permanent.  The snub of iTunes comes sharply on the heels of Universal's refusal to sign another contract with Apple.  The iTunes store continues to sell Universal tracks, though Universal can pull them at any time.  None of the other music stores out there are serious competition to Apple. That lack of leverage with the market leader in getting its own sale terms has the two companies on frosty terms.

The move looks to take Steve Job's idea of DRM free music stores and put it everywhere but Apple.  Universal will sell through Real Network's Rhapsody, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon.  There will also be ad supported links in Google to Universal music tracks, speculating that Google may open a store at some point.  Google is about the only major force on the Internet that isn't selling music.  Whether this experiment to sell more music or create more competition for Apple is successful remains to be seen.  It's good for consumers, if no one else.

Stories are in the E-Commerce Times, Wired News, PC World, and the Washington Post.

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August 13, 2007 | Permalink

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