Live from the EMI/Apple event

[intro]Beatles downloads? The end of DRM? Be the first to find out with our live report from the Apple/EMI announcement in London.[/intro]2pm That's

2pm That's it, it's all over. So, will you be upgrading your DRMd trackes to copyright-free, better quality ones if it'll cost 20p a track? Will you buy more EMI music? Or do you think this is a rip off? Let's get a debate started over at the forums.

1.47 Jobs has said that movie downloads will remain copy protected (funny that, as he's a major shareholder in Disney and therefore a movie content owner, while he's just a music retailer). EMI videos, however, will be available DRM free.  

1.43 I think this is a great day for digital music. It's a shame that songs will cost more, but to improve the quality of audio files and get rid of DRM is brilliant - lets hope the other majors follow suit. it's hard to think they won't - surely this has got to help EMI grow sales against its rivals. Now you'll be able to buy songs on the iTunes music store that will play on Sony Walkmans, PS3s and any other player that supports AAC - and it's likely that all players that don't currently support AAC soon will. Rival download services will follow suit, too, so you should be able to buy MP3, WMA and ATRAC files that don't have copy-protection. Which perhaps means the best-sounding format will win out. And the best sounding format? It could be that dark horse ATRAC. Time to don my headphones and find out.  

1.39 Is 256kbps good enough? Shouldn't we be offered lossless files? Or maybe that's fill our hard drives too quickly. Someone has asked about non-EMI records - Jobs has confirmed that other labels will be offering DRM-free content - but those might be indies who already do.

1.37 Now we're into Q&A. Someone has asked about The Beatles, to be rebuffed. No news there then.

1.35 Steve reckons half of the iTunes catalogue will be available DRM free by the end of the year, suggesting this isn't just an EMI initiative.It's great news, of course, but it's also the way that EMI has finally persuaded iTunes to charge above its standard price. £1 a song is a lot of money. 

1.31 Consumers don't want to be locked into iPod, says Steve. Also, the quality of iTunes' 128kbps AAC files isn't good enough for some. So what will the price be, hmmm? The new tracks will be 256kbps AAC files £1.29 per song or 99p each. And obviously, they'll be unencumbered by DRM. Your entire library can be upgraded for 30c a song(no UK price). Album pricing will remain the same as it currently is. Current DRMd songs from EMI will still be available at the old price. 

1.30 Steve Jobs is now onstage, having had a rather glowing intro. "Today EMI and Apple are announcing the next big step forward in the digital music revolution. EMI's entire catalogue will be available DRM free on iTunes in May." 

1.28 Premium albums won't be more expensive, just tracks. Also, you'll be able to upgrade your low-res offerings to premium quality. The Good The Bad and The Queen will offer hi-res MP3 today. "Our entire catalogue will be available in standard and premium versions'. Apple the first to support this with iTunes. 

1.27 Higher price, higher quality tracks are going to be available - premium downloads will have two key features - free from DRM and vastly improved sound qaulity. YEY! but they will be more expensive. Boo! 

1.25 A guy who I can only assume is EMI cheif Eric Nicoli is up on stage. EMI are committed to 'embracing change' to 'provide consumers with a compelling experience'. Value for money, choice, ease of use are the principles of the label's digital strategy. New product embodies these.

1.24pm The video shows a huge range of EMI artists - this definitely isn't just an announcement about the Beatles catalogue. 

1.23pm After two brooding songs, The Good, The Bad and The Queen leave the stage, with their string quartet in tow, and a short Chemical Brothers clip is shown ast the stage is cleared.  

1.13pm Damon Albarn and his band are now on stage. Apparently, on learning of EMI's plans, Damon Albarn's reaction was "f***ing brilliant!". Does that sound like a reaction to The Beatles catalogue going on sale? And even if it is, why is he standing up and singing at a Beatles launch? Doesn't seem right... so maybe it IS a DRM announcement.  

1.10pm The invitation was sent yesterday but it was no April fool. But before finding out what it's all about we're being treated to two songs from The Good, The Bad and The Queen. Result!

1.08pm it's started. We're sitting in the staff canteen with a group of expectant journos and -as always at apple events these days - broadcast media. 


It was only yesterday - Sunday - that an invite to today's Apple/EMI event dropped into my mailbox. EMI's CEO Eric Nicoli is due to reveal all about "an exciting new digital offering", with a special guest slot from Apple boss Steve Jobs.

EMI are rumoured to have responded positively to Jobs' comments that major labels should ditch copy protection on music downloads, leading some to suggest this announcement will be the beginning of the end for DRM. I'd like to agree, but I think it's more likely that EMI are about to launch the Beatles' catalogue online. And if there's one thing they'll want to DRM, it'll be the Beatles.

I'll be blogging live - networks permitting - on this blog from 1pm BST.