7digital could lead DRM-free sales in EU

UK-based music download shop 7digital announced yesterday that it inked a deal with Warner Music. Its site now offers DRM-free content from two of the "Big Four" major labels.

7digital vends to the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, and Spain, and claims to be in negotiations with with Sony BMG and Universal. If deals with these labels come through soon, 7digital could beat Amazon to the punch, becoming the first DRM-free music store in the EU offering all major labels.


The process can be expedited, no doubt, by a recent capital investment of $8.5 million dollars from Sutton Place Managers and Balderton Capital (formerly Benchmark Capital, the group that owns eBay.)

7digital CEO Ben Drury earlier this year issued a statement entitled "2008: The Year of Digital Music," in which he said, "2008 is set to be the year DRM is gone for good. We've already seen all four majors make efforts to offer DRM-free downloads, and by summer, DRM will likely be resigned to the history books."

Since it began offering DRM-free downloads in December, the UK site has witnessed a 188% increase in sales.

Amazon.com has deals with all four majors, though it has yet to open its doors outside of the US. In January, the retailer announced it would begin selling DRM-free MP3s overseas this year, but provided no launch timeline. Tracks sold on 7Digital are encoded at 320 Kbps, Amazon's are 256 Kbps.

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