Macworld: iTunes Goes DRM FREE!

Phil Schiller, during his Macworld Keynote (see our MASSIVE live blog!) today, announced -- as rumored -- that iTunes is going DRM-Free (opens in new tab)! 8 million songs will be available in higher-quality 256-bit, DRM-free iTunes Plus format immediately, the remaining 2 million or so songs following by the end of the quarter.

In order to wrestle this concession from Big Music, however, Apple had to give them a concession of their own: variable pricing. Apple had long resisted this policy, preferring the unified $0.99 model (a brief flirtation with $1.29 iTunes Plus pricing not withstanding). Today, however, Schiller announced a 3 tiered structure:

  • $0.79 for older, catalog songs
  • $0.99 for mid-tier
  • $1.29 for premium (hot new singles?)

Upgrading will cost $0.30 per song, $060 per music videos, and whole albums for 30% of the album price.

So, is it working for you yet? And are you upgrading? Or just buying new song?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • That is a fantastic development, I never thought I'd see the day when Apple went so far with DRM, thanks guys.
  • Great for Blackberry owners. Can now sync all their content without having to buy an ipod/touch/phone.
  • It hasn't been hard to strip DRM from iTunes music.
    I won't be upgrading.
  • I still get my music from or, because I get the music at 256 for 89/99 cents, why pay $1.29 for a song that you can get for 99 cents for the same bit rate?...... well I'll see what happends
  • oh and I almost forgot they are DRM-Free music ;)
  • meh...
  • I dont buy music but cool for those who do!
  • It would seem it will be $0.40 per song and $0.80 per video (albums still -30%) in the Canadian iTunes Music Store... even though the songs have always been $0.99 in Canada as well as the US. Lame.
  • I never thought this day would come! I have had an iPod since the third generation and have always resisted iTunes for the simple reason of DRM through all these years, 4 iPods, and 2 iPhones.
    I started purchasing online from AmazonMP3 last year when they launched and loved it. Over the years I only ever bought a total of 11 songs from iTunes, which I just upgraded. Now I can shop and buy from iTunes and not just shop then go to Amazon. This is freaking sweet!
  • Anyone that says "meh" anywhere needs a b*tch-slap.
    Here's one for you, virtually.
  • Of all the announcements, this was the weakest.
    MEH!!! :lol:
  • Wohoo! No DRM. But variable pricing? WTF. That is a turn off I think.
  • Thanks for the update. But for the price of older song, is it selling at $0.69, instead of $0.79? Probably it's a typo.
  • Is it really free?
  • I still have an issue with paying another .30 per song to upgrade just to get DRM free music...Kinda makes me angry...Itunes wants another 300.00 from me to do this. also you can't seem to pick and choose what albums you want to upgrade, it's all or nothing....
  • Higher bit rate? DRM-free? Not bad. So, now it's a case of MP3 vs. AAC and pricing.
  • Great little feature, still using this today even though it was released in 2009.
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