Steve Jobs posted his thoughts on digital music sales and DRM earlier today.

It's a well-written piece that mentions some of the problems with closed DRM models, including Apple's own FairPlay. Jobs also proposes a few alternatives that could be used to address these problems in the future, and his third suggestion is especially interesting:

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store.

This is what consumers have been asking for all along. As Steve later points out, DRM really hasn't worked out for anybody, including the music industry. Most people simply find it too restrictive, and have opted for alternatives like ripping CDs and downloading music from P2P networks like BitTorrent.

Skeptics have posted various conjectures regarding the true intent behind Jobs' letter (check Techmeme if you're interested), especially related to the recent lawsuits in Europe against FairPlay. And some of them might even be right. Nevertheless, the fact that this was posted out in public for everyone to see tells me that Apple is at least thinking in the right direction. If the industry giants joined forces on this one, I'm confident that they could put enough pressure on the music companies to make them eventually give in and be more reasonable. After all, the digital music revolution would have never come about without companies like Apple and Microsoft, and I'm sure the music companies are fully aware of that fact.

Anyway, you should read the complete article. I have to commend Jobs for at least getting the ball rolling. Now let's see where things go from here...