iTunes has expanded its library of DRM-free music with the addition of 8 million songs devoid of any copyright protection. The move that was announced today at Macworld comes after Apple reached an understanding with the three largest music labels, Sony BMG, Warner Music, and Universal. It already has a similar agreement with EMI and has been providing music belonging to that label sans any DRM for around a year.
Apple is also going to allow people the luxury of ridding their iTunes music library of its copyright protection. But for that users will have to shelve out an extra 30 cents for every song they want to convert. Another 2 million DRM-free tracks are going to become available on iTunes in April.
As digital music stores become more common and convenient, the age of the compact disc as the preferred medium is coming to a close. In fact, according to year-end sales figures released by The Nielsen Co., sales of CDs are down a whopping 20 percent.
The sales of physical discs have dropped from 450.5 million in 2007 to only 362.6 million in 2008. And during this time, digital album sales made a gigantic jump of 32 percent over their previous year’s sales.
Apple’s iTunes music store has been particularly successful, having broken the 1 billion song mark with 1.07 billion sold. Along with this, their sales went up 27 percent over the previous year.
This week, we recorded a mostly zombie-free edition of the No BS podcast. While there was a little undead chat, we also talked about CUDA vs. OpenCL vs. DirectX 11 and using iTunes the Gordon Mah Ung way. This week, we're pretty certain that we even managed to post the right pocast (if you missed last week's, just redownload it. It's linking to the right one now). Join the podcast gang as we answer your tech questions, take a trip to the Lab, and get a chock-full-o'-rage edition of Gordon Mah Ung's Rant of the Week!
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by. For the love of all that's holy people, if you guys don't start asking tech questions, we're going to change the name to the Nothing But Undead podcast...
Newsflash - consumers hate DRM! Could it be that Apple finally got the message? Apparently so, according to a rumor at AppleInsider. Apple has yet to make an announcement, but AppleInsider claims iTunes may be dropping DRM completely starting tomorrow.
"A report from last week brought to AppleInsider's attention by French technology site ElectronLibre asserts that it's now 'clear' Apple will spark new interest in its music store by removing DRM from tracks published by Sony, Universal and Warner on December 9th,"AppleInsider writes.
Apple's iTunes Store, which claims 70 percent of the online digital music market, already offers DRM-free tracks from EMI and indie content. If all tracks moved to the same format, it could deal a blow to the competition, such as Amazon and Walmart, both of which offer DRM-free tracks from all major studios.
Throwing a wet blanket on the rumor is Cnet, who says that come tomorrow, don't expect any big changes. Cnet acknowledges that Apple is in negotiations with Universal, Sony, and Warner, but warned that none of the deals are final, with at least one source saying "it's unlikely Apple will have anything to announce regarding DRM-free music from the top labels before the end of the year."
In other words, cross your fingers but remain skeptical.
The day that digital music outsells their time-tested physical counterparts is finally upon us. Just this week Atlantic Records announced that more than half of its music sold within the United States was digital, thanks mostly to iTunes and cell phone ringtones.
But sadly, with the lowered amount of in-store copies being bought, there’s ultimately a smaller pie to get a digital piece from. Analysts at Forrester Research are estimating that music sales in the United Sates will go down to $9.2 billion in 2013, from $10.1 billion this year. Compare that to the $14.6 billion in 1999, and there’s a disturbing trend for record execs.
It’s expected that piracy has a good deal to do with the lowering numbers, but the ailing economy could very well be a large factor. The real question though, is how long until an overwhelming majority of music sold is digitally? It can’t be too far off.
Are you sick of using iTunes? We don't blame you. The program eats up resources and makes us scratch our heads with its "Genius" recommendations, and we're ready to throw out display through the wall every time the Apple Software Updater tells us that there's a new version of Safari out. Arrgh!
Before our inner Hulk gets both mad and strong, we've taken a look at alternatives to the popular music library software. As luck would have it, we stumbled across an open-source solution that's every bit as good (and functional!) as iTunes. Better still, it comes without all of the clutter! You might have heard of the application before--it's called Songbird, an open-source music library application straight from Mozilla itself. But what you might not be aware of is the sheer depth of functionality (and dare we say it, iTunes replication) inherent in the program itself. And we're going to show you the top nine ways to tweak this application to bits and make it do exactly what you want, including features you'll never find in iTunes!
Throw on your headphones and check our out big list behind the jump!
I feel like my eyes have just been opened for the very first time. This iTunes store junkie has finally seen the true light when it comes to buying music online, and it comes in the form of Lala.com.
When buying a song on iTunes I find myself searching around the very easy to navigate store, buying music at a reasonably priced 99 cents per song, and downloading a file with attached DRM. I’d always accepted it, it didn’t seem unaccommodating. Now that I’ve had a chance to check out the eminence that is Lala.com, I can’t ever see myself going back to iTunes again. Not to say that iTunes is bad, but Lala is just that good.
Why is Lala good? First of all, they sell MP3’s for 89 cents without any attached DRM (seriously!), or you can buy a streaming only version for just 10 cents (which will go towards the purchase of the full version). Albums themselves come at the price of $7.49, less than both iTunes and the legendary price-slashing Amazon.
Lala also allows you to listen to a song completely before you decide to buy it – and there’s plenty to listen to. Lala offers tunes from the four major record labels and 170,000 independents. New members are also allowed to pick up their first 50 streaming songs for free, no strings attached – no credit card, no nothing.
Say you’re like me, you’re packing a hefty amount of songs on your computer. You’ve purchased some from iTunes with that nasty DRM attached and MP3s that you’ve ripped straight of CDs. What do you do? You use Lala’s safe to use uploader! It scans the music on your computer’s hard drive, identifies the songs you’ve got and tosses them onto your library so that you can listen to them anywhere. Users accustomed with MP3.com’s MyMP3 service will already be familiar with this concept.
I could quite literally go on and on about how great this service really is, but if you use it for even just a little bit you’ll realize its potential on your own. Be sure to drive your browser over to Lala’s web site, and sign up straight away (and keep your eyes glued to your iPhone’s app store, they’ve got an app on the horizon). And remember, cash in those 50 free songs!
While there’s no doubt that Apple’s insanely popular iTunes store would hit this milestone, they felt it necessary to announce that they’ve finally hit 200 million sales of TV episodes, with more than one million of those being HD episodes sold just last month.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services, said in a statement this past Thursday, “We've got an incredible Fall 2008 TV lineup with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas, including many of the most popular shows on TV in stunning HD. With over 200 million episodes sold, iTunes customers have proven they love watching television on their computer, iPod, iPhone and TV with Apple TV.”
Thanks to the partnership of major television networks such as Bravo, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, Sci Fi, Showtime and USA, these sales don’t look they’re going to slow down anytime in the near future.
For those keeping track, the iTunes store now offers over eight million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films. Almost makes a man never want to leave his house.
It’s no secret that YouTube has yet to turn a profit. Despite steadily growing advertising revenue, the massive bandwidth costs required to stream a bazillion videos a day has kept the video giant out of the black. However, the company has announced an ambitious plan to monetize all those page-views by embedding their watch pages with “click-to-buy” links to retailers offering products related to the video.
YouTube is starting small, with iTunes and Amazon links on videos posted by certain record labels and trailers from Electronic Arts, but it plans to “slowly but surely expand the program to additional content and product partners.” They also plan to allow their advertising partners the opportunity to attach retail links to copyright-infringing videos posted by users, as long as they allow the video to remain on the site.
The program will initially only effect viewers in the United States, but if you live elsewhere and feel like you’re not seeing enough advertising in your daily life, don’t worry; YouTube plans to expand to other markets soon.
A collective sigh of relief was let out Thursday, as a panel of federal judges who determine royalty rates for recordings ruled to renew the current royalty rate until 2012. The ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of three judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress, applied directly to mechanical royalties (which as we mentioned before, are the fees paid directly to songwriters and publishers of music, not the performers).
The currently royalty rate of 9.1 cents was lobbied to receive a 66 percent increase by music publishers, concerned about losing income as music sales decline. Labels and retailers pushed to judges to adopt a new model that would determine royalty payments as a percentage of wholesale revenue, however neither of these suggestions made the ruling.
One document in the hearing, submitted by an Apple executive, had threatened that a significant inflation in royalty rates could potentially force them to shut down the massively popular iTunes music store, which has sold over 5 billion songs to date. While Apple sees substantial sales, they operate with very thin margins.
There are still some in the music industry that have claimed that new rulings such as these might not be enough to satisfy the insatiable rise of illegal file sharing. “Whether these developments will be sufficient to return the music industry to health is not clear,” said Jonathan Feinstien, a music lawyer at the Krasilovsky & Gross firm in New York.