The exciting news over the holiday period was that Warner Music Group (WMG) became the third of the four major music groups to offer downloads without Digital Rights Management (DRM). Warner have signed a deal with Amazon that adds another half a million songs to Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 service. Take a look at the press release on the Amazon and WMG sites. That leaves the mean folks at Sony BMG as the only major holding out against DRM-free music. It also puts Amazon comfortably ahead of the competition in terms of having the largest collection on offer. Warner have snubbed Apple, the company that originally forced the issue of DRM-free downloads, by only doing a deal with Amazon. Early in 2007, Apple’s Steve Jobs called on the music industry to sell DRM-free tracks via iTunes. Soon after EMI did a deal with Apple and became the first major to sell DRM-free downloads. You can read my blog about that here. Doubtless the WMG Chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is still a bit embarrassed that he was dismissive of Jobs for proposing music be sold free of DRM. He may also be calculating that Apple is too influential and probably wants Amazon or some other service to become a significant competitor to iTunes in order to diminish Apple’s bargaining power.
DRM is dead, or ded, if you spell like some rocking guys who call themselves Led Zeppelin. Led Zep are signed to a Warner subsidiary, Atlantic, so their music can now be bought DRM-free. Buying individual Led Zep tracks over the internet is ironic; the band started a trend in their own era by refusing to sell singles and intentionally composing for complete albums instead of individual songs. However, after the media frenzy caused by the recent Led Zep reunion gig, where people were buying tickets for thousands of dollars, I expect Led Zep downloads to be amongst the popular on Amazon’s site. So here is a bit of gratuitous advertising for Led Zep, as my way of a thank you to Edgar Bronfmann for seeing sense and selling DRM-free music. This should also help fire up some of you struggling to get back to work after the holidays. Enjoy!