Outside of EMI, major labels continue to refuse DRM-free licensing on the iTunes Store.
The holdout mostly amounts to gamesmanship, and many executives expect a DRM-free licensing nod after a period of months. In the meantime, Apple has been quietly licensing DRM-free content from various independents and digital distributors, and beefing the protection-free iTunes Plus in the process.
It’s not hard to convince independents to go DRM-free. That’s been their digital language for years, and iTunes simply represents a bigger venue. Already, independent labels and distributors like Sub Pop, Nettwerk, IODA, and The Orchard have licensed iTunes, part of two-million strong iTunes Plus catalog.
And just this weekend, Brussels-based PIAS Entertainment Group licensed roughly 44,000 DRM-free tracks from its roster of 200 labels. PIAS, which offers a range of services to its member labels, will offer its content as unprotected AACs at 99-cents each – just like the other labels. Value-added offerings involving Ticketmaster and iTunes ringtones are also being bundled.