SEATTLE (Hypebot) –
1. Amazon – All DRM free – all the
time. 2.3 million mp3's from EMI and Universal and a ton of
indies at variable prices from $.89 to $.99 with most albums
from $4.99 to $9.99. Blame selection problems on the labels;
2. eMusic – Until Amazon, these guys were #1, but
with some labels leaving and competitors expanding, how long
will eMusic stay #2? For now, you have to subscribe and won't
find any major labels; but if you like indie music you can't
beat $.33 per song or less …which of course is why some
labels are leaving.
3. WalMart – Yup, WalMart.com. There's no
indie product available (and they can't blame shelf space), but
lots of tracks from both EMI and Universal and most of them are
priced at a low $.88.
4. Real/Rhapsody – These guys do music
subscriptions and streaming better than anyone. On the DRM-free
front, however, you'll only find limited major label mp3's. But
their CEO was brave enough to be the first to publicaly call
for DRM free and with the recent partnership with MTV, you can
expect interesting changes ahead. Next time Hypebot publishes
this list Rhapsody could be #3 or even #2.
5. 7Digital –
I'd rank this innovative UK digital retailer in the Top 2 or 3
if they would just add purchases in US dollars and perhaps
euros. But more than half of their extensive catalog is in
mp3's with lots of unique offerings. Worth a look even if you
get slammed by your credit card company for the conversion.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS –
Way back in February Steve Jobs railed against DRM and called
on record labels to drop it. Now 8 months later iTunes has
made virtually no indie product available DRM-free and the
major label label it does sell without copy protection is in
the less than universal AAC format.
Napster – No DRM free product at all. When
asked why ,they said they'd change when enough was available so
that multiple formats didn't confuse the customer. But Amazon
and eMusic each found than 2 million+ DRM-free tracks, and
WalMart and Rhapsody found ways to inform consumers.
Can you add any honorable or dishonorable mentions? What
are your favorite places to purchase DRM free downloads?