In a recent public announcement Steve Jobs discussed DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the fact that Apple would welcome the labels getting rid of DRM all together. Apple has been recently criticized, particularly in Europe because of the proprietary nature of their DRM technology called "Fair Play" which allows music sold on iTunes to only be played on an iPod player.
No matter what your music player preference - consumers are wanting DRM free music downloads. It was obvious to me that when attending some music industry conferences recently that the labels aren't any closer to understanding that opening up DRM might actually help increase music sales. In the heyday of the original Napster when digital music files were being freely swapped, the music industry was booming - since shutting it down, music sales have been declining.
EMI stands out as one of the forward-thinking labels - in December they experimented with selling some Nora Jones tracks DRM free on the Yahoo Music Store. EMI has been rumored in the WSJ to announce that they will sell a substantial portion of their music catalog as DRM-free music files - so the results must have been encouraging! If they do in fact start to publish all of their music DRM free, I for one will applaud and support that as a consumer with my wallet!