There’s a pretty exciting report coming from the Financial Times that Apple is negotiating with the major music record labels to build in access to their catalogs into the price of the device. Such a move would be consistent with rumors of an Apple DVR in that it would show that Apple is intent on keeping the value on its hardware products, the roots of the company. As many have speculated, while Apple has sold over four billion songs, the iTunes store hasn’t been a major profit center.
According to the FT, the labels want $100 per device, which would be prohibitive for where popular models such as the iPod nano are today. Also, I’m not thrilled with the idea of the license being tied to a device. That seems like a step backward from the trend of DRM-free music sales; even DRM tracks can be used on an unlimited number of iPods.. Nevertheless, if Apple (or any other company, for that matter) and the labels can pull it together, it would represent a digital music renaissance, taking us full-circle back to the early days of “free” digital music and the explosion in discovery that went along with it.