Feeds

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

Play.com gets the mainstream jump on Apple and Amazon

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.