EMI is taking software locks off some of its digital music songs sold via download sites.
The "premium" versions of EMI tracks will lack the digital locks common to songs available via many online sites. The move is significant because most download sites currently try to limit piracy by restricting what people can do with music they buy. Apple's iTunes store will start selling the EMI tracks in the "premium" format in May.
EMI said every song in its catalogue will be available in the "premium" format. It said the tracks without locks will cost more and be of higher quality than those it offers now. The higher price will apply only to single tracks that customers download. On iTunes EMI tracks free of digital rights management (DRM) software will cost $1.29 (99p).
Itunes users will be able to upgrade previously purchased EMI songs and albums for 30 cents (15p) a track. The "premium" tracks will be twice the sound quality of currently available EMI tracks.
"Consumers tell us they would be prepared to pay a higher price for a piece of music they can play on any player," said EMI boss Eric Nicoli. By contrast albums free of DRM and those with it will be the same price.
EMI unveiled the "premium" content at a hastily arranged press conference held in London.
Apple boss Steve Jobs shared the platform with Mr Nicoli and said: "This is the next big step forward in the digital music revolution - the movement to completely interoperable DRM-free music."
He added: "The right thing to do is to tear down walls that precluded interoperability by going DRM-free and that starts here today." Other record companies would soon follow EMI's lead, predicted Mr Jobs.