Music industry executives are frustrated that Microsoft and Apple can't create compatible digital rights management systems.

While both companies are clearly competing to secure strong slices of the digital music market, with Apple presently the convincing market leader, record label executives think incompatibility between the two systems is "holding the online music market back", Reuters reports.

"It's unquestionably holding the market back," said David Pakman, managing director of Dimensional Associates and head of digital music retailer eMusic. "If everything was interoperable, then certainly sales would be higher."

Death of the celestial jukebox

Many executives dream of making music available in secure formats so it can be accessed and heard "anywhere", but the DRM drama makes these dreams a mythology of music choice.

So-called copy-protected CDs that do not allow users to rip songs to iTunes are a case in point of this, the report states.

The situation may become more complex, as mobile phone companies develop their own digital rights systems.

The end result of such incompatibilities is that music consumers face problems in future as new services and devices that support different formats appear, potentially threatening them with an unacceptable level of obsolescence in their music purchases.

"Apple has been particularly resistant to shaking hands in the interest of compatibility," the report states.