It has taken longer than I had hoped, but finally some more movement from the other majors on the DRMless front...
Universal To Set Its Music Free - Forbes.com: "During its trial run, the Vivendi (other-otc: VIVEF - news - people ) subsidiary said it will make 'thousands' of its albums and songs available for download without so-called digital rights management, or DRM, restrictions, to observe consumer demand, price sensitivity and the impact on piracy. The songs will be sold in the MP3 format, which can be played on any handheld music player, including the market-leading iPod from Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ), as well as on any cell phone that can play music.
The test run will begin Aug. 21 and will run through the end of January. Universal's move is significant on a number of different levels. As home to a sprawling roster of leading recording artists including Amy Winehouse, 50 Cent, Fall Out Boy, Prince, Elvis Costello and others, its U.S. unit sales last year that were roughly three times that of EMI Group, which began offering its catalog without DRM restrictions in April.
n addition, Universal is shutting out Apple's iTunes Store from its trial run. Why? Because it wants to use iTunes as a control group against which to compare its sale of DRM-free downloads elsewhere.
Among the online vendors participating in Universal's test run will be Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Google, Best Buy, Rhapsody from RealNetworks, Trans World Entertainment, Passalong Networks and Puretracks.
A nice move all-around, the consumers get what they want (DRMless content that will still play on their iPod), Amazon can make their entrance into the market with a bang (something the labels desperately need is a strong iTunes competitor to give them more leverage with Apple) and Universal at least gets to *appear* like they are listening to their consumers.
The other piece of BIG news kind of slid into the story is the inclusion of Google as a partner that is going to sell these tracks. Is Google finally getting into the game to after years of rumors?! Check out some of my related thoughts on Google as the ultimate music mashup...
Time to fire up Winamp and wait from Amazon's or Google's store to go live - haven't we all been waiting long enough?