Warner Music Group Embraces Amazon's DRM-Free Music Store

Warner Music Group (WMG) is following Universal and EMI in offering DRM-free music through Amazon’s MP3 digital music store, the companies announced in a news release Thursday. WMG SVP Michael Nash said allowing consumers to buy songs in MP3 format “will only encourage the sale of more music.”

Amazon now claims 2.9 million tracks for sale at its Amazon MP3 store, which opened in September. Terms were not disclosed but Amazon is undercutting Apple (APPL) on pricing for most of its songs, selling them for $0.89 (rather than $0.99) per track. Of the 6 million songs offered by Apple’s iTunes, 2 million are offered DRM-free through iTunes Plus.

With the deal, WMG becomes the third major label to do a deal with Amazon in hopes of breaking Apple’s death-grip on digital music sales. The deal comes a day after reports surfaced that Apple (APPL) is set to announce a movie rental deal with News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox.

WMG’s deal with Amazon leaves only Sony-BMG holding the line against DRM-free music. Yet reports indicate even Sony-BMG is planning to capitulate to the anti-DRM crowd, though details remain sketchy. Billboard reports Sony-BMG will offer “artist-specific digital download album cards” in MP3 format in mid-January.

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