TechCrunch is reporting EMI CEO Eric Nicoli and Apple CEO Steve Jobs have announced that the two companies are now offering EMI’s music catalog DRM-free on iTunes.

EMI will offer all songs from its digital catalog without DRM. Testing earlier this year suggested people prefer non-DRM to DRM tracks 10:1. iTunes is first partner.

These songs will no longer be tied to iTunes and the iPod – any device that plays AAC format will play these songs.

Songs will be encoded at 256kbps AAC (current is 128kbps) and sold at $1.29 per song, $0.30 more per song than the current price. These will be offered along side the existing lower quality, DRM tracks, and consumers can choose.

Entire album purchases will stay at the same price, but have the higher audio quality and will be DRM free.

EMI music videos will be available DRM free with no change in price.

Customers who purchased tracks previously can upgrade to DRM free tracks for $0.30 per track.

Jobs says they are trying to do similar deals with other labels, and expects that 50% of all of their tracks sold will be DRM free by end of year.

About… Fracking… Time! Without Jobs pushing for this the music industry would have never woken up and started offering music online without DRM.

Though part of me hoped they’d never change so the Indy artists could have gained more traction and popularity as I think DRM is driving consumers to not hate, but loath the Music Industry, the RIAA and their associated artists. The Independents stood to possibly win this battle and now they’re just going to be pushed further away from all the action.

This win is a bit bittersweet don’t you think?

[EMI, Apple To Sell DRM-Free Music for $1.29/song]

[tags]DRM, Apple, iTunes, IMS, iTunes Music Store, Steve Jobs, EMI, iPod, AAC, Indy artists, independent musicians[/tags]