DRM Tracks Outsold 4:1 By DRM-free

...says latest research from 7digital.

Resisting the urge to write yet another iPhone related story before tomorrow’s big UK launch, perhaps more interesting in the long term is latest research on the take up of DRM-free music…

According to everyone’s favourite non-iTunes-English-online-music-store 7digital, its DRM-free downloads are now outselling their locked down equivalents by an incredible 4 to 1. Not only this, but the venerable MP3 remains the dominant format of choice with 320Kbps DRM-free MP3 files maintaining this ratio against DRM-free tracks in WMA and AAC ”combined”.

Looking at 7digital specifically, this – perhaps predictably – bodes well since the online store now has more than 60 per cent of its 3m+ track catalogue available in the DRM-free 320Kbps MP3 format. In addition, it has seen bundled album sales account for 70 per cent of total MP3 downloads by value, compared to just 46 per cent in WMA. As the company notes: this is something of a fillip for the music industry which has seen physical album sales drop by close to 20 per cent so far in 2007.

“Consumers are a lot savvier than some people think and overwhelmingly choose MP3 over any other format when given the choice,” said Ben Drury, 7digital MD. “MP3 is the only truly interoperable format that works with the iPod, most mobile phones (including the iPhone) and all MP3 players.”

Of course the great irony here is – despite building unquestionably beautiful devices – Apple’s iTunes store only sells music in AAC and its DRM-free tracks come at a lower bitrate (256Kbps) while typically costing no less per album (£7.99). So the most popular store doesn’t sell the most popular format or the best quality…

We should be confused but haven’t we learnt by now that as a species we are a wholly stupid bunch whose collective decisions continue to baffle us as individuals… *ho, hum*


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