WSJ is reporting, and this report started echoing around the blogosphere like wildfire, that Apple CEO Steve Jobs and EMI CEO Eric Nicoli will be holding a forty minutes press conference in London to announce that EMI content will from now onwards sold online without DRM. Charades of press is invited to the press conference to “Hear about an exciting new digital offering”.
EMI is the third largest music label after Universal and SonyBMG. This move from EMI will definitely have rippling effects and I can easily foretell that Universal and SonyBMG would be more than eager to join in the party. Music Labels were addicted to DRM because it limits the ability of users to copy songs and share them with friends. This is the sole reasons users despise it, because it creates a lock in to devices as well as services.
This move by EMI is not shocking because earlier this year Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to Music labels asking them to drop DRM for the good of the Music Industry. He pointed out that iTunes accounts for only 3% of the songs being played on iPod, the rest are ripped off CD’s illegally. This clearly is a huge loss, but no one should be made to believe that the music industry is doing this eagerly. The fact of affairs is that the rapid downfall of CD sales last year bundled with the glut of illegal services, P2P networks etc have forced their hand to do so. In a related move SonyBMG has also partnered with Six Apart for A&R from Artists, which is yet another blow to the CD centered models.
Just a side thought, I cant help wondering how much powerful can one man become, Steve Jobs has now singlehandedly taken the Music industry and Hollywood to task, and when he talks the markets listen.