Perhaps signalling another nail in the coffin of DRM, Universal Music Group has announced that it will begin a test program of DRM-free music sales, starting August 21st and lasting through January 31st of next year. Surprisingly, the songs will not be available through iTunes, which has already been selling DRM-free music from EMI, though for a higher price than normal ($1.29 vs. 99¢).
Universal, the world’s biggest music conglomerate, said it would offer
albums and songs without the software, known as digital rights
management, through existing digital music retail services like RealNetworks and Wal-Mart, nascent services from Amazon.com and Google, and some artists’ Web sites.
The offer of Universal’s music under the new terms is being framed as a
test, to run into January, allowing executives to study consumer demand
and any effect on online piracy.
The decision to bypass iTunes is an interesting one, as is the decision to sell the songs for the "industry-standard"
99¢. Although framed as a test, it could very well continue past January if successful (or so we would all hope).