Apple has begun its push to persuade more labels and artists to join EMI in making their songs available through iTunes without digital rights management (DRM) applied to legally-purchased tracks.

At the end of last week, the company distributed an email to labels already using iTunes to let them know it will soon be possible for them to upload songs for sale in a DRM-free format.

“Many of you have reached out to iTunes to find out how you can make your songs available higher quality and DRM-free,” Apple wrote. “Starting next month, iTunes will begin offering higher-quality, DRM-free music and DRM-free music videos to all customers.”

EMI artist The Good, The Bad and The Queen (featuring Damon Albarn, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, former Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen) was the first EMI act to release music legally online in DRM-free format under the new DRM Glasnost. These tracks are already available on the act's website.

A more wholesale distribution begins within weeks: major label EMI will begin selling music through iTunes in DRM-free format at higher quality (256K) starting next month. Songs will cost 99p.

Music fans will also be able to upgrade their existing iTunes EMI purchases for an additional one-off charge of 20p.

Announcing the move at the beginning of April, EMI CEO Eric Nicoli said: “EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favourite artists”.