Big music labels experiment with DRM-free tracks

— 2:08 PM on December 7, 2006

Major record labels including Sony BMG, EMI, and Hollywood Records are testing the waters of unprotected online music downloads, according to USA Today. The labels have offered individual songs—or, in the case of Hollywood Records, a whole album—in MP3 format with no digital rights management protection on Yahoo's Yahoo! Music service. The move is an experiment to see if unprotected MP3 music sells better, since it can be played back on Apple's highly-popular iPod players. Protected Windows Media Audio songs normally sold through the Yahoo! Music store, on the other hand, can't.

As USA Today points out, the move may have been inspired by the popularity of eMusic, which offers all its music in unprotected MP3 format. Despite the fact that eMusic's catalogue is mostly made up of music from small bands and indie labels, the service's popularity is second only to Apple's iTunes Store.

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