by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Hello EMI, Goodbye DRM
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & D & lt;/span & RM software is what Apple uses, at the behest of big record labels, to restrict your usage of iTunes-purchased songs to iTunes only. This is a huge pain in the ass. Last week, major label EMI allowed Apple (and, a day later, Microsoft) to begin selling that company's music without DRM. This is significant.
EMI's made a huge reversal in its business model, essentially taking the advice of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the European Union and everyone who's ever been pissed that you can only play iTunes downloads on five computers and your iPod. EMI's saying, "Okay, use the music however you want."
Don't expect this to snowball, though. Grand experiment started, the remaining three big record conglomerates will now sit back and watch to see how EMI fares. This isn't the smart move on their part. Big Music (EMI now excluded) hasn't made smart moves for a while. A decade of endless mergers has bred in Big Music conservatism, sloth and a tendency to grasp at dwindling revenue streams rather than seeking out new ones. So don't expect that new Young Buck joint to be restriction-free any time soon.
You might, though, want to start looking out for DRM-less files from indie labels (Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars, etc). Most of these companies are either ambivalent about DRM or openly hostile to it. They've been subject to DRM, though, because Apple and Microsoft didn't want to complicate their purchasing model by offering some files with restrictions and others without just to help a small Olympia-based label who sells like 1,000 songs a year. Now that a major player has opted in, and Apple and MS are changing their models, it should be easier for those smaller labels to follow suit.
If not Young Buck, then, at least maybe the Arcade Fire.