UMG Testing Out Anti-DRM Music Sales, Not On iTunes Though

Posted Aug 10, 2007

Universal Music Group represents some of the biggest names in various music genres.  Some of their top selling artists include Janet Jackson, The Killers, Bon Jovi, Elton John, 2Pac, Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Pussycat Dolls, Luciano Pavarotti, and Kanye West.  UMG is owned by French-company, Vivendi and made about �480 million ($660,576,000) in net income for the year of 2005.

Thousands of albums will be available DRM-free on artist websites, but the tracks on Apple iTunes will remain DRM.  What does this mean?  This essentially means that when a user purchases tracks on iTunes, the file format tends to be .MP4 rather than .MP3.  And .MP4’s are known to play primarily on the Apple iPod and many other music players are known to be incompatible with .MP4 files.

“Clearly the handwriting is on the wall for DRM-protected content,” said Michael Gartenberg, a Jupiter Research analyst. “We are seeing more of the players fall as they recognize that it’s just a hassle for the consumer and doesn’t really help the piracy problem.”

Apple had no comment about the new initiative.  Universal said that they are not including iTunes for now to test as a control group to see how piracy impact music sales.  “There’s no doubt these guys are poking a stick at Apple,” added Gartenberg.

Universal Music tracks will be DRM-free from August 21st to January 31st.  Will they see an increase in sales?  We’ll find out at the end of the month.