Apple’s recent announcement that the iTunes Music Store is going DRM-free has enjoyed mixed reactions from the public. Most people are happy that all iTunes music purchased will be DRM-free from the end of Q1 2009, with about 80% being DRM-free now. Many people (myself included) bought iTunes music prior to (or despite) the availability of Amazon’s MP3 store that has been DRM-free since launch (although only available to US customers).
Techcrunch notes that going DRM-free may net Apple and the record companies a cool $1.8 billion dollars thanks to the 30c upgrade fee.
Anyone who wants to upgrade their entire existing iTunes Library to DRM-free versions of the same songs, can conveniently do so with one click. But it is going to cost you 30 cents a track to do so. That’s right, you have to pay again for songs you already bought. Let’s see, 6 billion songs X 30 cents = $1.8 billion in potential upgrade fees. That’s a music tax, plain and simple. No wonder the music companies finally relented.
Of course there have always been options available for converting iTunes DRM-protected music to DRM-free simply by using the “burn and rip method” or use a program like TuneClone which creates a virtual CD burner for converting music to DRM-free MP3 files.
The advantage of paying the 30c upgrade fee is you receive a higher bit rate version of the song compared to a “burn and rip” conversion. For people who notice the difference and enjoy high quality audio this may be worth the cost. Then again these people probably already ripped higher bit rate songs from CDs they purchased, or bought most of their music from Amazon instead.
I own maybe 10 or 20 purchased songs so paying the few dollars to upgrade might just be easier.