updated 01:25 pm EDT, Tue October 2, 2007
Bell DRM-Free Music Store
Bell Canada today announced that its Sympatico/MSN Music Store was the latest to begin offering digital music without copy protection. The communications firm said that it would now begin offering tracks from EMI as well as several independent labels in MP3 format, allowing much of its previously Windows Media-only catalog to work with nearly any computer or portable device -- including the iPod and virtually all music phones, Bell noted. Unlike stores from Wal-Mart and some other websites, the service does not require a Windows-based computer and will let Mac users download songs through a web portal.
Pricing for the unrestricted tracks is different than with offerings from iTunes as well as Amazon MP3, Wal-Mart, and other stores, Bell notes. Although albums sell at the same price in MP3 form as Windows Media versions, individual songs vary between 99 cents and $1.29 Canadian each depending on label agreements. Windows Media music would continue to be sold side-by-side with the unprotected formats, according to the store operator. The changes to the store have already taken effect.
Sympatico/MSN is the second major label-independent store in Canada to have embraced unprotected music and follows Puretracks, which also began offering MP3s through an update in early August. Puretracks embraced a more consistent iTunes-like model and opened sales with a consistent $1.29 Canadian price per song.