So who is an EMI artist after all?

First, European states look at (or are) taking action against Apple because of the tight integration between iTunes and iPod (especially the Digital Rights Management for the music sold online), then Steve Jobs posts an open letter to the music industry on February 6, 2007, and now I am hoping that my favorite artists are all signed by EMI and not the other majors… and it’s not because of DRM :-)

I’ve never been a big fan of purchasing music online. Yes, DRM has always been a key element playing against purchasing songs online, but more importantly, the sound quality was just not good enough. I was ready to continue purchasing CDs and encode them at 192-256 kbps AAC myself, to then pile the new physical media somewhere and never touch it again. The only things I’ve purchased online are those I wasn’t able to find in the physical world (there are quite a few exclusives on the iTunes Store). But now, with the recent Apple / EMI announcement, looks like I won’t need to purchase (certain) CDs anymore.

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OK, there has been an announced extra charge of $0.3 for the DRM-free, double-the-bitrate songs, but from what I’ve heard, the album pricing won’t change… and that’s perfect for me. At CA$ 9.99 per album (Canada must be the cheapest place to buy music on iTunes based on current exchange rates), I don’t see any reason for me to continue purchasing physical CDs, outside the fact that the music I might want won’t be from an EMI artist :-(

Starting May, Apple / EMI will start selling DRM-free 256kbps songs. No timelines regarding when the entire EMI collection will be available, but they stated that the global EMI catalogue will be on iTunes at a high-bit-rate DRM-free one day… does this also mean that I will be able to purchase French, German or Swiss artists who are under contract with EMI from Canada? I’m looking forward to it. To bad Stefan Eicher is under contract with UniversalMusic as he just released a new album in Europe that isn’t available in Canada. I just can’t stop thinking that the open letter from Steve Jobs was part of a very clever marketing campaign and EMI has jumped on it to get their name to the front page of the news, instead of focusing on the actual artists.

Having subscribed to eMusic for a while, I can only hope that Apple will open this arrangement to Independent music labels. The iTunes interface works well for me (even if with version 7.0, it is slowly becoming a very complex application). Steve, please think about the world outside of EMI: and I’m not talking about all the other majors. Quite a few independent artists have been selling DRM free music for a while, and I can only hope to find it in a DRM-free version shortly on iTunes.

Until the artists I like start to appear in this “new” way, I’ll continue purchasing CDs and convert them myself… Apple, next step: DRM-free 1080p Movies and TV Shows!