iTunes goes DRM-free at last

iTunes Store
iTunes Plus will offer over 10 million DRM-free songs by March 2009

Apple used its Macworld 2009 keynote speech to confirm that will be offering over 10 million DRM-free songs on the iTunes Store - that's 100 per cent of the total.

Beginning today, all four major music labels - Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels, are offering their music in 'iTunes Plus', Apple's DRM-free format with higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings.

Eight million songs will be available from today, with that number rising to exceed 10 million by the end of March, Apple says.

New pricing structure

Dropping DRM had been expected, as had a revamped pricing structure for the iTunes store. There are now three pricing tiers to satisfy the music industry - 59p, 79p and 99p, with albums priced at £7.99. The changes will come into effect from April 1st.

Similarly, we'd predicted that Apple had cut a deal to allow music downloads over cellular connections. Sure enough, iPhone 3G owners can now browse the full contents of the iTunes Store without needing a Wi-Fi connection. The iTunes store seems to work over an EDGE connection too, which is good news for anybody with an original iPhone.

"We are thrilled to be able to offer our iTunes customers DRM-free iTunes Plus songs in high quality audio and our iPhone 3G customers the ability to download music from iTunes anytime, anywhere over their 3G network at the same price as downloading to your computer or via Wi-Fi," said the hormonally-imbalanced Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO.