Along with a new version of iTunes released today Apple has launched iTunes Plus, a premium service that offers music tracks free of copy protection, keeping its promise to offer EMI Group's digital catalog in May, including singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd and John Coltrane.
The new protection-free music tracks will be available as high quality 256 kbps AAC encoded audio and will sell for $1.29 per song, that's a $0.30 premium over DRM protected songs. The new DRM-free songs will drop the unfair restrictions on the way consumers can listen to songs they have legally purchased, allowing them to easily play their music files on any music player other than an Apple iPod.
The iTunes Store is the leading online music store with over 2.5 billion songs sold, a market Amazon is going after with its recently announced online music store that will sell only unprotected MP3 songs. Apart from selling music, Apple has also sold over 50 million TV shows and over two million movies, making it the leader in each of those markets too.