Feeds

Legal, major label DRM-free MP3s hit UK (at last)

Play.com gets the mainstream jump on Apple and Amazon

High performance access to file storage

Play.com, the Jersey-based entertainment retailer, has beaten Apple and Amazon to the punch today by opening the UK's first mainstream* legal digital rights management-free music download store with major label backing.

Amazon has yet to replicate its US digital store on this side of the Atlantic, and a spokesman for the firm refused to say if it ever intends to do so. Apple iTunes Plus in the UK offers DRM-free tracks, but only in the company's favoured AAC format.

So far, EMI is the only major label to sign up to Play.com's digital store. Wendy Snowdon, head of PlayDigital, said: "It is only a matter of time before the other labels embrace this." In the US, Amazon Digital has become the first to convince all four majors, in a collective two fingers to Apple, to drop DRM.

EMI tracks will be sold at 320Kbit/s on Play.com. Music from dozens of smaller independent outfits will be encoded at 192Kbit/s, although a spokesman said that all will be bumped to 320Kbit/s. iTunes Plus and Amazon Digital encode at 256Kbit/s.

Play.com's new store is also priced aggressively. Top-selling tracks will cost 65p, compared to 79p at iTunes. Amazon charges 99 cents per track in the US, although transatlantic currency conversion rates rarely bear any relation to the value of the dollar against the pound.

Play.com said the average price per track will be 70 pence. Album bundles are charged at £6.99.

I want my MP3s

Earlier this week, Reg reader Stuart Henderson wrote in to say: "Every other week I seem to read about companies striking deals with the big labels to to sell non-DRM'ed MP3s to the masses. Which is odd, because I can't find any."

"My wallet is open, my ears pricked up and I'm itching to jump on the soulless-train that is mainstream popular music. Will anyone take my money?" he asked.

Well, Stu, your prayers have been at least partly answered by Play.com.

Amazon's silence on entering the UK market is an entirely pointless attempt at managing its PR. It would be insane if it didn't set up its download stall here, and it has already confirmed its broad international ambitions for the site. The launch timing is merely a question of how nimble its digital licence negotiating skills have become.

There'll still be no way to download the Beatles catalogue DRM-free legally, of course. ®

Update</3>

*Edit: The UK-based digital music retail startup 7digital got in touch to say they've been offering EMI's catalogue DRM-free for a year. Other services offer specialist genres.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.