Does the expression "DRM- Free Pricing" mean anything to you? Well, if it doesn't now, it may soon affect your pocketbook. DRM, digital rights management, is the copy protection software that has greatly influenced the cost of downloading music. According to two sources close to the negotiations, Apple has cut deals that will finally enable iTunes to offer songs free of this software from the three largest music labels. As the largest retailer of music today, that means something.
In exchange, Apple has agreed to become more flexible on pricing. One source explained that under the terms of the deal, song prices will be broken down into three categories--older songs from the catalog, midline songs (newer songs that aren't big hits), and current hits. The flat rate pricing that Apple has used for the last few years will be gone. Considering they haven't raised their prices in about 5 years, this should not be a shock to anyone. Basically, the new hits will cost more than the $.99 people have gotten used to paying. However, if you really don't want to pay the higher price, then you could wait for it to be passe and let the price drop. All things go on sale eventually.
In addition, Apple and the music labels have also apparently come to terms on over-the-air downloads. This part of the deal would allow iPhone owners to download songs to their mobile devices via cell networks and without the aid of Wi-Fi.
As always, it should be interesting to see how these negotiations and Apple's influence over the rest of the market is reflected when this deal becomes a reality.