Starting today, 7digital customers in the UK, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany can purchase tracks from Warner in the MP3 format, playable on virtually any digital audio player including iPods. To promote the Warner coup, 7digital is making select albums from Warner Music’s catalog available for a limited period at the price of £5/€6.99.
In contrast, the only Warner tracks available on iTunes – in Europe or the U.S. – employ Apple’s FairPlay copyprotection technology, meaning that they are limited to playback on Apple-sanctioned devices such as the iPod, iPhone and AppleTV. And although Amazon’s download store sells music from Warner DRM-free, it’s currently only open to U.S. residents.
As we reported in June last year, 7digital has been busy transitioning its music catalog away from offering tracks with copy-protection to become completely DRM-free. With the addition of Warner alongside other labels including EMI, 80% of 7digital’s catalog is now offered as MP3s. In 2007, the company reported year-on-year sales had grown 188%, with DRM-free downloads out-selling copy-protected tracks – when offered side-by-side – by almost four to one.
John Reid, President of Warner Music Europe, said in a written statement “We believe that providing consumers with this assurance of interoperability will encourage sales of music downloads and ultimately help the development of new digital music experiences. This agreement will not only enhance 7digital.com’s service and expand our digital footprint but also benefit artists and music fans alike.”
7digital CEO Ben Drury adds “7digital.com is committed to becoming the destination for MP3s and we plan to make our entire music catalogue available in DRM-free, high-quality MP3 format by summer 2008.”
Drury is also Deputy Chairman of the Entertainment Retailers Association, a UK trade organization that has routinely called for the music industry to end its use of DRM.
Also see: Digital music: 2007 year in review