Early sales indications are showing that DRM-free music, available from EMI on the Apple iTunes Store, is proving very popular and giving download figures a further boost.

EMI's senior vice-president, Lauren Berkowitz, announced impressive figures highlighting increased sales since the release of files free of any rights protection on Apple's iTunes Store.

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, a perennial top-seller, saw downloads increase by 350 per cent in the first week of the new format. Sales have steadied since, but the album has still seen an overall increase of 272 per cent since its release in DRM-free form.

Other EMI artists saw similar spikes in sales after the record company became the first to take off copy protection. This had previously restricted both the type of device and the number of computers that purchased digital music could be played on.

Also adding to the new format's appeal was the increased quality of Apple Plus music - available in 256kbps quality rather than the standard 128kpbs - and the ability to upgrade a previously purchased EMI track to the new DRM-free format for just 20 pence.

The evidence seems to suggest that people are buying into the new format. Norah Jones' Come Away With Me was another album that saw downloads increase since the release of the DRM-free format - sales went up 24 per cent compared, while the CD version dropped by 33 per cent over the same period.

Could it be just a matter of time until other record labels follow suit? Let's hope so - better quality, more usable files have to be a good thing, don't they? Let us know what you think by posting a comment or starting a thread on our forums.

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