EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music, Universal Music and a number of other independent labels have now all signed with Online Etailer Play.com to offer their tracks without any Digital Rights Management "protection".
Although not the first one to offer DRM-free music, Play.com is certainly the best known having won the award for best e-tailer (from Which? Magazine) this year ahead of archrival Amazon.
More than three million music tracks will now be available following the launch of the Playdigital Store back in February 2008.
Play.com undercuts Tesco and Apple's prices both for the top 100 tracks and featured albums, which is good news for punters but Apple still comes ahead with a better iTunes integration.
Head of PlayDigital, Wendy said in a statement that “It was only a matter of time before the other three major labels came onboard and we now have an offer to rival that of iTunes, yet in a format that gives the consumer choice and at a more appealing price.”
Obviously, this piles pressure on Apple to be more lenient when it comes to Digital Rights Management and provides with more choice in an increasingly bi-polar configuration with pay per tracks on one side and eat-as-much-as you want on the other.
The next big music store to be formally launched will be Amazon's MP3 store, scheduled for release in the next few weeks; like Play.com, it will also come without DRM and is sure to drive down the price of albums and singles.