Apple officially launches iTunes Plus – DRM-free for the masses

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We hinted about this morning, but Apple has now gone official and launched its DRM-free content, under the name iTunes Plus.

The DRM-free service is worldwide and retails for 99p in the UK, which gets you 256 kbps AAC encoding – virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings says Apple. The first batch of tunes is, as expected, via EMI and includes singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane and as previously reported, more than a dozen of Paul McCartney’s albums.

This is alongside, not instead of DRM tracks, which are still available at 128 kbps AAC encoding for 79p. When you try to buy a track, you’re given an option to buy – there’s no hard sell at work thankfully. And if you have previously bought any of the EMI tunes, you can upgrade for 20p per track or £2 per album.

“Our customers are very excited about the freedom and amazing sound quality of iTunes Plus,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year.

iTunes website

Dave Walker