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7Digital Adds Universal, Has 3 of 'Big Four' DRM Free

Gordon Kelly


7Digital Adds Universal, Has Three of 'Big Four' DRM Free

When Amazon MP3 launched in the US and quickly secured all of the so-called big four record labels (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG) on DRM-free deals it seemed the company had the world - and possibly iTunes - at its knees. Almost 12 months on however there is still no sign of the mooted international launch and in true Hollywood underdog style one of the little guys could be set to beat it to the punch...

In the softest of soft releases 7Digital has begun suddenly selling DRM free music from the Universal catalogue in the UK. This also means it has now secured three of the big four (EMI and, since March, Warner are also aboard). Furthermore, rumour on the grape vine is a Sony BMG contract could be arriving sooner rather than later.

So what does Universal add? Well a monstrous list is available on its site but highlights (these are 'taste neutral') include 50 Cent (very taste neutral), Amy Winehouse, Black Eyed Peas, Elliott Smith, Eminem, Guns N Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey, N.E.R.D., Queens of the Stone Age, Razorlight, Sigur Ros, Snow Patrol, Sugababes, The Killers, The Who, Tom Petty, U2, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and - well, you get the picture...

This is particularly good news too since 7Digital sells at high bitrates and tends to undercut most online music stores, particularly iTunes.

Looks like this is one site going places...


7Digital (thanks to eagle eyed reader Philip for the tip-off)


September 8, 2008, 12:02 pm

the next logical step is to start selling drm free lossless tracks... anyone?

Ian Yates

September 8, 2008, 2:37 pm

I recently started using 7Digital purely because they offer MP3s (ergo DRM-free) at 320kbps.

I previously hadn't purchased any downloadable music because of the whole ownership thing.

They do mention FLAC as one of their supported standards, but I haven't seen any albums available yet.


September 8, 2008, 3:08 pm

I wonder if Apple will announce any movement on the DRM front at their iPod event tomorrow? It seems to have been a long time since the first few DRM-free tracks appeared, so it wouldn't surprise me if there were finally some other labels on board.

Personally, Apple's DRM doesn't affect me in any way shape or form. All my music streams to my other PCs/Macs from the Mac with the library on, my Apple TV has a copy of it all, I have it on iPod's in my cars and whenever I need to I can just burn a CD. It's all a long way from Microsoft DRM where I was forever 'renewing licences' (WTF) and entering passwords.

DRM is still evil, though :) We should be free to do whatever we want with our music. Just because I'm happy now doesn't mean I will be in 10 years time!


September 8, 2008, 7:15 pm

If a company ever releases a flat rate model I will sign up until then I dont see it happening.


September 8, 2008, 7:32 pm

The problem I find with 7digital is that a lot of the tracks sell for 0.99p, a premium of 20p over iTunes tracks. So because I own an iPod I stick with iTunes and its DRM (which, to be honest, isn't too bad if you own an iPod).

mr dog

September 8, 2008, 9:03 pm

For the ultimate DRM headache try an old Sony player, i tried once to add some more music to my father's player and because we had reinstalled Windows it wouldn't let me add anything, the only thing i could do was delete everything i had spent hours ripping and start again from a clean player. Now that he has an iMac I don't think the playlist has changed in the last year and a half.

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