1. archie's Avatar
    WELL, OVER 1 BILLION SONGS WITH DRM have been sold so far. So that seems to be at least 1 "who", whom may or may not be in their right mind.

    The point is, you have yet another choice now through the iTunes Store. Before you could only purchase music without DRM through digital retailers like eMusic or Puretracks or Zunior, OR purchase through outlets to get CDs or records or tapes or DVDs to then RIP and place on an iPod.

    They have not increased the price of anything! They are offering another service of better quality at a marginally higher price and that is it — contrary to YOUR SPIN!
    04-02-2007 11:54 AM
  2. MarkY's Avatar
    Any content that might be pirated is of a small enough quantity as to be offset by the price increase.

    How are we being tricked into just believing this is good when it really isn't? This question is rhetorical of course because there really is no tricking involved; or "spinning" for that matter.
    I didn't mean to imply that any spin was directed to us (customers). IMO this is a good deal for customers and, as you mention, they are not changing the current pricing structure, just adding another option. I think we win either way.

    The "spin" (maybe I used the wrong term) is directed towards the record companies. Assuming you are correct and they believe any pirated content is offset by the price increase, then we are all in good shape. However, I imagine that some record executives still view this as giving the keys to the inmates and will resist participating. Jobs isn't trying to sell us, he's trying to sell the other record companies.
    04-02-2007 12:02 PM
  3. marcol's Avatar
    The trick is simple, and many reporters alluded to this. Who in their right mind would pay for a DRM'd track when they could buy a DRM-free one? What has happened is that Itunes basically increased prices.
    You'll be able to buy what you've been able to buy for the last three years at exactly the same price. Alongside that they've introduced a new product that is:

    1) better (higher bit rate no DRM);

    2) $0.30 more per track ($1.29 vs $0.99) if you don't buy complete albums;

    3) the same price per track if buy complete albums - album price for both 128 kbps DRMed and 256 kbps non-DRMed: $9.99.

    This is good news!
    04-02-2007 12:20 PM
  4. surur's Avatar
    Sorry, drm free music is not a premium product. Its what every sensible person will buy as standard. Talking about $1.30 as a price which few will pay is not consistent with reality. Basically most people will pay more, and some will pay less for a crippled product. For most people that is not a real choice.

    Surur
    04-02-2007 12:42 PM
  5. vinman's Avatar
    Sorry, drm free music is not a premium product. Its what every sensible person will buy as standard. Talking about $1.30 as a price which few will pay is not consistent with reality. Basically most people will pay more, and some will pay less for a crippled product. For most people that is not a real choice.

    Surur

    You're right - DRM free music (in and of itself) is not a premium product. Having the music available at double the bit rate IS a premium product. Though still a long ways from an actual cd quality bit rate, I'd gladly pay .30 more per track (keep in mind the price of an entire album remains unchanged) for better quality sound.
    04-02-2007 01:17 PM
  6. surur's Avatar
    You're right - DRM free music (in and of itself) is not a premium product. Having the music available at double the bit rate IS a premium product. Though still a long ways from an actual cd quality bit rate, I'd gladly pay .30 more per track (keep in mind the price of an entire album remains unchanged) for better quality sound.
    So basically they bundled a premium product with a must-have feature, and are forcing you to pay more to get it. As Archie said above, the prices at Itunes have now been raised. If I go to Sarah McLachlan's website I can buy a full album in mp3 for $9.99, and uncompressed audio in FLAC for $10.99. Now that is a real service to the audiophile, not Apple's half-measure.
    http://www.werkshop.com/store/artist...&subcat_id=999

    Surur
    04-02-2007 01:40 PM
  7. vinman's Avatar
    So basically they bundled a premium product with a must-have feature, and are forcing you to pay more to get it. As Archie said above, the prices at Itunes have now been raised. If I go to Sarah McLachlan's website I can buy a full album in mp3 for $9.99, and uncompressed audio in FLAC for $10.99. Now that is a real service to the audiophile, not Apple's half-measure.
    http://www.werkshop.com/store/artist...&subcat_id=999

    Surur
    Yep. If all artists made their music available on their personal sites in different formats, we'd all be better off - and they could make more money, to boot. Maybe someday. Meanwhile, I'll still pay a little more for a less compressed audio file - especially if (eventually) I can use it on more than one device.
    04-02-2007 02:04 PM
  8. surur's Avatar
    Its actually the website for her label, Nettwerk music. Anyway, congratulations for EMI and Apple. I dont mind the small increase in price, although I wish it was mp3 (which you can use in near ANYTHING without conversion, e.g. my Wii), and I hope it spreads to the other labels soon, and to the other providers like Rhapsody, which I use. In Rhapsody the subscription music will stay DRM'd I'm sure, but I hope when you buy from them the standard will be to get the music in a free and open non-DRM format.

    Surur
    04-02-2007 02:16 PM
  9. archie's Avatar
    So basically they bundled a premium product with a must-have feature, and are forcing you to pay more to get it. As Archie said above, the prices at Itunes have now been raised. If I go to Sarah McLachlan's website I can buy a full album in mp3 for $9.99, and uncompressed audio in FLAC for $10.99. Now that is a real service to the audiophile, not Apple's half-measure.
    http://www.werkshop.com/store/artist...&subcat_id=999

    Surur
    I NEVER said Apple raised the prices at the iTunes Store. Please do not misquote me.

    Thank you.

    PS: In terms of audio fidelity, there is no loss of data if the compressed audio is properly encoded using AAC.

    PPS: Did you know the iTunes Store sells albums at $9.99 at 256 kbps, just like Sarah McLachlan's website in your example?
    04-02-2007 02:40 PM
  10. surur's Avatar
    I NEVER said Apple raised the prices at the iTunes Store. Please do not misquote me.
    Really?

    For example, 10 months ago, when the 5 year contract was up between Apple and the record labels, every single big name label wanted to charge $1.29 per song at the iTunes Store. Steve Jobs was able to maintain the 99 price point in the contract renegotiations. But now he has an option for the record labels to get their $1.29 pricing that they want.

    Steve looked at the problem differently and was able to provide a solution that would give the labels (the greedy bastards that they are) the money they want while also providing the consumers a perceived value, and an obvious benefit, in this price increase. This benefit being DRM free music AND also audio quality tha t is greatly increased, which is not a sacrifice on the part of the labels. The labels only sacrifice is providing content that is DRM free and this is greatly justified with the price increase and the numbers will show that the quantity of purchased songs from the iTS is small enough as to not be a concern of piracy and such.

    Any content that might be pirated is of a small enough quantity as to be offset by the price increase.

    PS: In terms of audio fidelity, there is no loss of data if the compressed audio is properly encoded using AAC.
    You do know what lossy and loss-less encoding means, dont you? Especially if you are going to be forced to transcode from AAC to MP3, the higher quality the source file the better. Nothing beats lossless for this. AAC as used by Apple at present is LOSSY.

    PPS: Did you know the iTunes Store sells albums at $9.99 at 256 kbps, just like Sarah McLachlan's website in your example?
    Itunes sell albums at $9.99 at 128 kb/sec AT PRESENT. This was always considered to be pretty low. Most other services used 192 kb/sec. They of course do not sell albums at 1411.2 kbit/sec, which is what real lossless encoding means.

    Surur
    04-02-2007 03:02 PM
  11. archie's Avatar
    Your wording had me saying that there was no choice because "the iTunes prices have now been raised", when in fact my wording when taken in context, refers to a "price increase" in a second option as compared to the first option.

    The same option is still there at the same price. Apple did not raise these prices.
    04-02-2007 03:31 PM
  12. archie's Avatar
    You do know what lossy and loss-less encoding means, dont you? Especially if you are going to be forced to transcode from AAC to MP3, the higher quality the source file the better. Nothing beats lossless for this. AAC as used by Apple at present is LOSSY.



    Itunes sell albums at $9.99 at 128 kb/sec AT PRESENT. This was always considered to be pretty low. Most other services used 192 kb/sec. They of course do not sell albums at 1411.2 kbit/sec, which is what real lossless encoding means.

    Surur
    Are you aware of the techniques used in AAC compression and the strategies behind them?

    Apparently not; otherwise, you would not consider it low in comparison to the 192 kbps used in other formats.
    04-02-2007 03:34 PM
  13. surur's Avatar
    Are you aware of the techniques used in AAC compression and the strategies behind them?

    Apparently not; otherwise, you would not consider it low in comparison to the 192 kbps used in other formats.
    Archie, dont make me laugh (again). Do you actually know what "no loss of data" means?

    And you do know WMA at 192 (which is what Yahoo, Napster and Rhapsody uses) has better audio quality than 128 kb AAC, dont you?

    Surur
    04-02-2007 04:12 PM
  14. marcol's Avatar
    Sorry, drm free music is not a premium product. Its what every sensible person will buy as standard. Talking about $1.30 as a price which few will pay is not consistent with reality. Basically most people will pay more, and some will pay less for a crippled product. For most people that is not a real choice.
    Call the product crippled if you want (I'd agree), but it's same product as was there yesterday and it's the same price. There has been no price increase for that product, which was my point. They've introduced a new and different product that, under some circumstances but not others, is more expensive than the old product. It's also better. That's all I was trying to say. These are facts!
    04-02-2007 04:19 PM
  15. marcol's Avatar
    And you do know WMA at 192 (which is what Yahoo, Napster and Rhapsody uses) has better audio quality than 128 kb AAC, dont you?
    Hmmm... 128 kbps DRMed AAC, 192 kbps DRMed WMA, or 256 kbps DRM-free AAC. I know which I'd choose. In fact, there's only one I'd even consider parting with cash for. I hope other distribution channels go the same way as Apple, but at this point iTunes looks much, much better than Napster, Rhapsody or Zune Marketplace, to me at least.
    04-02-2007 04:24 PM
  16. surur's Avatar
    Hmmm... 128 kbps DRMed AAC, 192 kbps DRMed WMA, or 256 kbps DRM-free AAC. I know which I'd choose. In fact, there's only one I'd even consider parting with cash for. I hope other distribution channels go the same way as Apple, but at this point iTunes looks much, much better than Napster, Rhapsody or Zune Marketplace, to me at least.
    So basically for you, and 90% of people (from the EMI tests) the new price at Itunes is $1.30? The lower price might as well not exist, as there's "only one I'd even consider parting with cash for"?

    Surur
    04-02-2007 04:38 PM
  17. surur's Avatar
    Hmmm... 128 kbps DRMed AAC, 192 kbps DRMed WMA, or 256 kbps DRM-free AAC. I know which I'd choose. In fact, there's only one I'd even consider parting with cash for. I hope other distribution channels go the same way as Apple, but at this point iTunes looks much, much better than Napster, Rhapsody or Zune Marketplace, to me at least.
    Dont you think its a bit early to make your judgment, considering you will have to wait till May at least before the first DRM-free tracks can be purchased, and that yahoo has been doing DRM-free track experiments for a while now. I expect them to announce similar deals quite soon.

    Surur
    04-02-2007 04:44 PM
  18. surur's Avatar
    This Engadget article represents most of my views:

    Last night the lot of us Engadget editors went to bed with sweet dreams of a DRM-free world dancing through our little heads. Lo and behold, this morning we woke up and to our pleasant surprise, EMI announced that in conjunction with Apple, it would make its entire digital catalogue available on iTunes completely DRM-free. The watershed moment we've all been waiting for -- the first of the Big Four music businesses makes one of the most pro-consumer moves we've seen in years. Or did they? Was today's announcement a real commitment dedicated to consumers' digital rights? Or was it a play for disenfranchised music lovers' hearts? We have a feeling the answer lies somewhere in the middle -- although we can't help but feel the whole thing is gestural at best, and subterfuge at worst. Here's why.

    For years Apple has said that given the choice between DRMed and DRM-free media ecosystems, it would always choose the former. Thankfully things seemed to be looking up when Jobs apparently had a change of heart after last year's crippling European pressures wrought havoc on the public perception of the iMonopoly. But we're still nowhere near there yet -- and we don't just mean that the other big labels, Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner, haven't switched over to DRM-free. What we're seeing here is a rabbit being pulled from a hat; it's wonderful, but what does it mean?

    We should be clear to start: we don't believe Jobs is leading by example here -- EMI is. Apple is providing the venue for EMI's great DRM-free music experiment, but Stevie J. is asking the labels do what he says -- not what he does. Now would be a good time to remind everyone that with last year's acquisition of Pixar, Steve Jobs became the single largest shareholder in the Walt Disney Company. With his $4 billion+ stake in the media megacorp and his seat on the board of directors, you'd think the largest single shareholder would be quick to encourage Disney-owned labels, like Hollywood Records, Lyric Street Records, Mammoth Records, and Walt Disney Records, to "embrace [DRM-free] sales wholeheartedly." Perhaps Jobs and Iger don't see as eye-to-eye as they previously postured, or perhaps Jobs is waiting to see whether this is actually the right move for the business, consumers be damned.

    The finer details of EMI and Jobs's announcement today were also dubious. Together they conflated DRM-free music with the discerning tastes of audiophiles. Steve mentioned that 128-bit AAC just isn't good enough for the sharp-eared, so uncrippled tracks are being bumped to 256Kbps. This gives Apple the ability to sell the music as a separate product and price point, while giving consumers the illusion of greater value. But we don't believe having free, usable, uncrippled media is a feature -- it's a right, and we demand it. You don't pay a premium for higher quality DRM-free physical media -- DVD Audio and SACD discs costs the same as CDs (in fact, often times they come as hybrids on the same media). Asking customers to pay 30% more for no DRM and a higher bitrate is a distraction, a parlor trick to take our attention away from the philosophical issue: EMI is still selling DRMed music. EMI CEO Eric Nicoli said, "Not everybody cares about interoperability or sound quality." Since when did the two become so intrinsically linked? Sure, not everyone cares to vote either, that doesn't mean it's a premium privilege. Nicoli also stated EMI has taken the view that it must "trust consumers." It's true, today's announcement shows more trust than they ever displayed before -- but it's still conditional trust.

    So why not make 99-cent 128-bit AAC tracks DRM free as well? We don't think there's an easy answer, but perhaps this is a move more tentative than people realize; this whole uncrippled music thing might just be an experiment. Assume it's a test to see how many people will buy DRM-free music, and possibly also a test to see how many copy it. If the experiment fails EMI and Apple can blame lack of consumer interest, or quickly inflated rates of piracy -- but they certainly wouldn't ever admit that the 30% price premium and inability to choose smaller file sizes and lower bitrates will have anything to do with lack of uptake. Meanwhile unwitting customers -- the type not to know of the crippling perils of DRM until it's too late -- will just go on buying the cheaper 99-cent tracks. So perhaps you can see why we don't fully believe that Jobs & Co. yet fully believe in a DRM-free ecosystem.

    Now take a look at Steve's response to the question of whether TV shows will be sold without DRM. (And keep that $4 billion dollar stake / board of directors seat in mind.) Jobs stated he believed that video is different, and that movies are not an appropriate analogue because they aren't distributed without DRM at the same frequency of sales as music. But why is media not media to the man that's made peddling this media the crux of his business? What is the real difference between music and TV shows and movies when it comes to end-user consumption? We suspect we don't need to answer, but we'd also like to point out that it's probably safe to estimate that nearly 100% of Americans are in range of terrestrial analogue broadcasts from all the "majors" of their particular industry -- and all these broadcasts of flagship, primetime shows are completely DRM-free in analog and often digital TV streams, with which people can record and do with as they please. Jobs's argument about TV, movies, and DRM makes even less sense from a protection point of view: what's easier for users to pirate, a 50MB album, or a 5GB movie?

    Lastly, we'd like to point out that, coincidentally, very, very few devices actually stand to benefit from Apple selling DRM-free AAC tracks. The iPod plays MP3s, but popular devices devices by all the big companies -- iRiver, Creative, Archos, most SanDisk devices, etc. (we forgetting any?) -- do not support AAC. In fact, the only other devices that we can think of that supports AAC are a handful of Sony players, the Sansa E200R, and the Zune -- and good luck getting that to work with your Mac or iTunes. We understand it may be a little much to ask that iTunes break its vertical integration and be made extensible for additional device support with this new DRM-free approach, but really, what's the point? Almost no devices play AAC, and Apple is deliberately not making these downloads available in MP3.

    The bottom line is this: we want to live in a DRM-free world, and while we're not necessarily convinced that Jobs, Apple, Disney, and EMI do too, at least some of the players in this ecosystem are willing to look at it from the consumer's point of view. That's some of the best news we've heard about the record industry in a long, long while, and we honestly do hope that it sparks an uptick in sales for an industry in turmoil. But we don't approve of misleading sales pitches, confusing conditions, and second guessing what should be a consumer right, and making it seem like some kind of privilege. If these companies are going to dump DRM, they need to really dump it, and never look back -- the buying public, Engadget included, certainly won't.
    http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/02/a...t-good-enough/

    Surur
    04-02-2007 05:07 PM
  19. marcol's Avatar
    So basically for you, and 90% of people (from the EMI tests) the new price at Itunes is $1.30? The lower price might as well not exist, as there's "only one I'd even consider parting with cash for"?
    For me personally the only price I'd consider paying is $1.29. My point, for the third time, was that the price of 128 kbps DRMed ACC files is exactly the same as it always was. The price of these tracks has not increased and they're still available.
    04-02-2007 05:37 PM
  20. marcol's Avatar
    Dont you think its a bit early to make your judgment, considering you will have to wait till May at least before the first DRM-free tracks can be purchased, and that yahoo has been doing DRM-free track experiments for a while now.
    Since you highlighted it I don't think you can have missed the 'at this point' in my statement.
    I expect them to announce similar deals quite soon.
    As I said, I hope that this is the case. At this point Apple is the bird in the bird in the hand though. I'm not privy to what other distributers will do, but as I speculated earlier, I wouldn't be surprised to see them go the DRM-free route too.
    04-02-2007 05:44 PM
  21. surur's Avatar
    And you are missing my point, which is that the other option might as well not exist. From the EMI presentation 90% of people chose the more expensive non-DRM music, and like most, you (and me) are one of them, and would never buy the crippled version given a choice. The reality is that the price is now higher at Itunes.

    Surur
    04-02-2007 05:48 PM
  22. marcol's Avatar
    This Engadget article represents most of my views:

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/02/a...t-good-enough/
    I agree with a lot of it too, although had I been writing it I think I'd have emphasised the positives rather more.

    I would take issue with 'In fact, the only other devices that we can think of that supports AAC are a handful of Sony players, the Sansa E200R, and the Zune' as it is a bit misleading. Treos* and Nokia smartphones also play AACs, as does my daughter's Sony Ericsson W810i (and presumably at least some other SE phones). Nokia sold only slightly fewer smartphones last year than Apple did iPods.

    *Only Palm OS with PocketTunes? WM AAC players?
    04-02-2007 06:08 PM
  23. archie's Avatar
    Archie, dont make me laugh (again). Do you actually know what "no loss of data" means?

    And you do know WMA at 192 (which is what Yahoo, Napster and Rhapsody uses) has better audio quality than 128 kb AAC, dont you?

    Surur
    Oh, mannnn...
    I can't possibly discuss this with you. There are too many issues like: you most probably and undoubtedly refusing to believe that AAC eliminates redundancies in the coded audio signal to achieve more compact file sizes while maintaining superiority.

    And the fact that I need to bring up bit rates not being equivalent is scary as well.

    I know what lossless means but it is apparent that it is you that does not have enough knowledge to bring to the table to have a reasonable discussion.
    04-02-2007 06:11 PM
  24. marcol's Avatar
    And you are missing my point, which is that the other option might as well not exist. From the EMI presentation 90% of people chose the more expensive non-DRM music, and like most, you (and me) are one of them, and would never buy the crippled version given a choice.
    Yeah, but we're not existing iTMS customers. Is the 90% 90% of people who used iTMS in the past or just 90% of people? Anyway, even if it's the former, there's still 10% of people who'd prefer the old option, and the cost of the product they'd be buying hasn't changed.
    The reality is that the price is now higher at Itunes.
    One price is higher and one is the same!

    I think we've done this one to death now!
    04-02-2007 06:20 PM
  25. archie's Avatar
    And you are missing my point, which is that the other option might as well not exist. From the EMI presentation 90% of people chose the more expensive non-DRM music, and like most, you (and me) are one of them, and would never buy the crippled version given a choice. The reality is that the price is now higher at Itunes.

    Surur
    Then why do they (and will continue to for the foreseeable future) still sell the 99 songs? This fact puts a whole in both of your arguements here.
    04-02-2007 06:23 PM
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