If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
News reports out of Midem, the music industry’s annual trade fair in Cannes, show the major labels moving in a new direction: downloaded music in unrestricted, non-digital-rights-management-controlled formats. The industry is facing slower growth in online music sales and at least some industry insiders have “a new appreciation” for music sold online in unrestricted formats, according to this New York Times article. EMI group may be leading the pack, announcing last week that it will stream music for free on Chinese Web site Baidu.com. RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaster predicted the shift to unrestricted formats “will happen between next year and fives years from now, but it is more likely to be in one to two years.”