Apple’s dominance of the music download market is facing a fresh challenge after Warner Music signed a deal to sell its tracks in the UK without copy protection.
The deal with 7digital.com will allow it to sell Warner Music tracks from the likes of James Blunt, Madonna and REM in the MP3 format.
MP3s can be played on virtually any digital music device including the Apple iPod.
In contrast, Apple’s iTunes store sells many songs in a format that can be played only on its own devices.
In a further blow to iTunes, selected Warner Music albums on7digital.com will cost just £5 – almost £3 less than an album from iTunes.
John Reid, of Warner Music Europe, said: ‘We believe that providing consumers with this assurance of interoperability will encourage sales of music downloads and ultimately help the development of new digital music experiences.
‘This agreement will not only enhance 7digital.com’s service and expand our digital footprint but also benefit artists and music fans alike.’
Which? technology editor Matthew Bath said that the news will be welcomed by music fans.
He said: ‘The deal between Warner Music and 7digital.com adds yet another place where consumers can download big-name music without the need to jump through the hoops that digital rights management restrictions impose.
‘It also sees the price of music being driven down so that European consumers can purchase albums for a similar price to those on sale in the US.’