Millions of cheers were heard ‘round the world when Phil Schiller announced some of the changes coming to the iTunes Store in April. The main one: all DRM-free music, meaning that songs can be played and burned without restriction. The four major record companies (Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI) are all now on board with the change, which was crucial to feature songs without the DRM encoding.

Beginning today, over 8 million songs in the iTunes Store feature:

  • No DRM restrictions
  • Higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually unchanged from the original
  • Same price for song downloads onto iPhone 3G over their 3G network

The remaining 2 million songs in the 10 million+ iTunes library will be available without the DRM restrictions by the end of March. According to Apple, they will offer a “simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of previously purchased songs to the higher quality DRM-free iTunes Plus format” for 30 cents per song or 30 percent of the album price. Sounds intriguing, but it could get expensive… I say choose your favorites wisely!

In April, songs will be available at three price points: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. This will be dictated by what the music labels charge Apple for the above licensing.

Read Apple’s entire press release here.

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