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May 22, 2007

EMI to be sold – DRM-free music downloads in jeopardy?

I just got finished gushing over Amazon’s forthcoming DRM free music store which features tunes from big publisher EMI and many independent labels and now comes news that puts the whole DRM free music download movement in doubt:

EMI — the music group behind Apple’s DRM (digital rights management) free iTunes — has agreed to be bought by private equity firm Terra Firma for £3.2 billion (US$6.4 billion). EMI has been the subject of bid speculation for the past year as its business has struggled. In early April EMI and Apple announced the sale DRM-free versions of EMI artists’ songs through Apple’s online iTunes store.

I had also mentioned the EMI-iTunes deal back in April.

EMI previously rejected a takeover bid from rival Warner Music. Warner has come out against DRM-free music. But, speaking a few weeks ago, EMI wouldn’t comment on what might happen to the DRM-free music if the company was bought.

EMI’s artists include some of the biggest names in music both past and present: The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Janet Jackson, Robbie Williams, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, The Rolling Stones, Al Green, Moby and Queen.

Analysts said the move was likely to bring other bidders into the fray, potentially including Warner Music. EMI has seen sales decline dramatically in recent months and said last week that it had a £260 million loss in the past year. News of the Terra Firma bid sent EMI’s shares up 9 percent.

You’ll note that the losses started long before the DRM free initiatives which were an attempt to reverse EMI’s sagging fortunes.

Posted at 10:50 pm. Filed under Amazon, Apple, Brands, Companies, EMI, Internet, iPod, iTunes, MP3 Player, Music downloads, Portable Audio

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