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iTunes variable pricing at work
Prices for some digital tracks increase 30%

Apple is making a big change to its pricing structure for iTunes music downloads. The company today announced a variable pricing structure on songs that will see many new tracks moving to a cost of $1.29 per track in a move that is sure to have been spurred by the records companies desire to reap more profits and control pricing on iTunes.

CNBC reports that Apple is basically pushing a 30% price increase on consumers at one of the worst economic times in decades. The rub is that many Apple fanatics won’t balk at the newly increased prices according to CNBC.

As of today, there are now three price points for digital tracks on iTunes with songs selling for 69 cents, 99 cents, and $1.29. Prices for individual songs will be based on the title’s popularity. The vast majority of the music will likely have a 99 cent price tag, and Apple claims that for every one track that had a price increase, ten songs will be cheaper.

CNBC says that it was unable to find a track on the iTunes store with a 69 cent price tag.

Ten cheaper tracks from unpopular bands will not offset the increase in price of the majority of new music that music fans are looking for on a regular basis. However, other digital music stores like Amazon MP3 Store still sell tracks for 99 cents which offers bargain shoppers an easy alternative.

The price changes don't appear to affect movies on iTunes including the new HD offerings.

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Kinda makes sense
By Moishe on 4/7/2009 11:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a big fan of Apple, but having a tiered structure makes sense. At the very least it's worth a try. I don't buy DRMed stuff anyways, so it won't affect me.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By dubldwn on 4/7/2009 12:07:29 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't Apple switch to 256kbps DRM-free?

RE: Kinda makes sense
By Bateluer on 4/7/2009 12:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
Apple switched to 256 AAC tracks for iTunes Plus. These are likely the tracks that'll cost 1.29. Regular, DRM'd iTunes music is still 128 AAC.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By AmbroseAthan on 4/7/2009 1:33:12 PM , Rating: 1
iTunes Plus is basically the entire catalogue now, and the songs are the same price as a 128 DRM counterpart. Apple is moving the entire library to 256 DRM-Free and the DRM-free tracks are the norm now in iTunes, with the DRM tracks being rare.

With regards to the pricing, it is pretty smiple. If it is in the Top 100, expect it to cost $1.29; otherwise it will likely be $.99.

I don't understand why people still think iTunes is basically all DRM; it changed a while ago.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By Master Kenobi on 4/8/2009 7:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it still has DRM, just in the form of digital watermarking now.

Best bet is to remove the watermark.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By on 4/8/2009 12:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
What about the tracks they are supposedly going to offer for less than 99 cents? Do the artists get to choose at all? If not, the talented small indie bands are going to end up losing profits to the Lady GaGa's of the world.

Matthew Freeman

RE: Kinda makes sense
By Moishe on 4/7/2009 12:53:22 PM , Rating: 3
The difference is:
Apple's AAC format != mp3
DRM-free costs more
Not all tracks are DRM-free

I only buy non-DRM mp3 format 256k or higher. does a great job and I buy from other stores (like Fixt) or directly from the band, if they have what I want.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By dubldwn on 4/7/09, Rating: 0
RE: Kinda makes sense
By walk2k on 4/7/2009 1:13:25 PM , Rating: 5
I only buy music in DRM-free 1400k bit rate uncompressed PCM format, with a free hard copy backup, printed artwork and convienent carrying case.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By ZmaxDP on 4/7/09, Rating: -1
RE: Kinda makes sense
By flips on 4/7/2009 1:48:35 PM , Rating: 5
You idiot. He was referring to an "old fashion" CD. I thought it was pretty funny. I'm in the same boat.

RE: Kinda makes sense
By sprockkets on 4/8/2009 6:04:04 AM , Rating: 3
And paying what it is really worth on ebay is even better!

For that reason, the RIAA wants to charge you twice on the sale. Too bad for them!

RE: Kinda makes sense
By michael2k on 4/7/2009 3:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
At this time last year over 30% of their catalog was DRM free for $0.99

Today I think the point is over 90% of their catalog is now DRM free for a range from $1.29 to $0.69

Your contention that DRM-free costs more is moot; that isn't true. And your point that not all tracks are DRM-free is also moot when most tracks are DRM-free.

By Bateluer on 4/7/2009 12:03:52 PM , Rating: 4
I've bought my last few albums off Amazon for their higher quality, cheaper price, and higher quality.

By MozeeToby on 4/7/2009 12:18:54 PM , Rating: 5
higher quality, cheaper price, and higher quality
This higher quality intrigues me. Also, the higher quality seems interesting too.

By BZDTemp on 4/7/2009 12:33:58 PM , Rating: 2
Make that less crappy quality!

By dms541 on 4/7/2009 12:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't laughed that hard at a post here in a while. I read it and was like "Holy Crap! I didn't know Zapp Brannigan read these forums"

By dubldwn on 4/7/2009 12:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
I think Amazon uses 256 mp3 vbr and Apple uses 256 aac.
I'm not sure if all Apple's music is 256. I would reach for aac over mp3 if it is though, as I think even microsoft and sony support aac now.

By noirsoft on 4/7/2009 4:52:39 PM , Rating: 2
Most players do play DRM-free AAC, but I would still prefer WMA, which sounds better to me (and from a few independent blind tests I've read about) than AAC.

By michael2k on 4/7/2009 7:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Huh? WMA and AAC are nearly the same, encoding wise.

The quality of individual encoders may be different, but that is akin to different speakers influencing the sound quality of any performance. Meaning if you use a high quality AAC encoder you will outperform a low quality WMA encoder (and vice versa).

Of course WMA is actually last generation since MS has since released WMA-Pro... and:

At [url=]128 kbit/s[/url], there was a four-way tie between aoTuV Vorbis, LAME MP3, WMA 9 Pro and AAC in a large scale test in January 2006, with each codec sounding close to the uncompressed music file for most listeners

So if you're comparing to AAC, you should probably be running WMA Pro...

By omnicronx on 4/8/2009 12:23:14 AM , Rating: 2
At [url=]128 kbit/s[/url], there was a four-way tie between aoTuV Vorbis, LAME MP3, WMA 9 Pro and AAC in a large scale test in January 2006, with each codec sounding close to the uncompressed music file for most listeners
Was the test done in a giant tin can? No codec encoded at 128kbit/s sounds even close to uncompressed music.

By MrCoyote on 4/8/2009 1:19:44 AM , Rating: 4
I'm glad I bought a Zune! Zune Marketplace monthly price makes more sense, and the Zune software has a very slick GUI compared to the iTunes cumbersome software.

For $45/3mth subscription, you can download and listen to almost any album. Makes it great for people that want to check out new artists, without having to pay for each song. I think subscription based music is the future, and if Apple were smart, they would do the same thing.

RE: Zune
By MrCoyote on 4/8/2009 1:22:11 AM , Rating: 3
Plus now you get to choose 10 songs each month to keep for free. Please tell me how iTunes is better?

Amazon so much more affordable
By cmsell on 4/7/2009 12:22:09 PM , Rating: 2
In today's economy, why would you risk losing your market shares by increasing your prices. Amazon is quickly gaining and this will only help. I think they are something like 15% of the market share already - this will push them up to 1/4 of the market. I only buy from amazon and usually just buy their deals, such as their MP3 album of the day, which is a complete album download for 'usually' under $3. I use the following page and google gadget to track the deal so I never miss it:

RE: Amazon so much more affordable
By Natfly on 4/7/2009 12:53:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah that is the only time I usually buy music. Under 3 or 4 bucks is what I consider reasonable.

RE: Amazon so much more affordable
By Smilin on 4/7/2009 1:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
It's not much a risk if you are already very close to a monopoly.

There are alternatives (rhapsody, amazon, zune, etc) but with iTunes and the iPod locked together it makes for a big change in 'convenience' to use one of the others.

Think of it like Microsoft except instead of abusing the monopoly by crushing competitors they abused it by crushing competitors AND raising the cost of Windows.

By DtTall on 4/7/2009 12:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
I know that it is not instant and all that, but at only $6.99 per CD w/ free shipping seems like a pretty good deal. They don't just ship you random CDs anymore.

For just under $7 you get all the tracks of the CD, the actual CD, the artwork/inserts, and can sell the CD if you no longer like the music.

I guess just don't understand why people pay so much for stuff from iTunes.

By jjmcubed on 4/7/2009 5:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for showing me that website. Might check out the service.

By mindless1 on 4/7/2009 11:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
It could partly be due to how crappy music is these days, @ 99 cents a track many people don't feel the whole CD has 7 tracks on it they'd want to pay for, and artwork isn't as valuable to them as having it already encoded (if high quality) and ready for their portable device, not to mention being more convenient to click on a track online instead of dealing with the USPS and a physical disc. 100 CD changers were cool in the early '90s, but not so much today.

You have a point about selling the CD, if it weren't for piracy/filesharing, and that a used CD that started out costing $7 may not be worth the time to sell, since it must still have a slight value to the original owner or why would they have bought it at all when there are online previews of content, unless you are suggesting they would rip the tracks then sell the CD, which is again illegal like filesharing if they don't delete the ripped tracks.

Don't want to pay for the iTune logo
By SpaceJumper on 4/7/2009 12:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
Buy somewhere else is a better solution.

By MrCoyote on 4/8/2009 1:23:30 AM , Rating: 2
Zune. See my post above.

Totally bogus article!
By madoka on 4/8/2009 12:06:07 AM , Rating: 2
Apple fought like hellcats for years to keep the pricing at $0.99 per track. Therefore to imply that they are behind the price increase is bogus. "CNBC reports that Apple is basically pushing a 30% price increase on consumers at one of the worst economic times in decades."

CNBC should have placed the blame on the music industry. They finally forced Apple into a tiered pricing system.

RE: Totally bogus article!
By MrCoyote on 4/8/2009 1:27:45 AM , Rating: 2
One thing no one mentioned....The music industry is no longer seeing profit from CD sales. Sales have dropped. So they have to make money some kind of way to pay the artists. The music stores around me have limited selection in CD's.

Unfortunately a lot of people don't understand that they are getting less quality of a lossy-compressed MP3 than a regular CD. I'd like to see online stores start offering LOSSLESS formats.

By ICBM on 4/7/2009 12:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
So how do they justify the increase? Value of the dollar has increased, shouldn't the prices of the music go down? Ah music industry, you are just so awesome!

RE: Justification?
By BPB on 4/7/09, Rating: 0
By KashGarinn on 4/8/2009 4:43:35 AM , Rating: 2
If you do, then make sure never to buy the higher priced version.

- Get other people also not to buy the higher priced version.

They're putting an extra price on the top 100 songs, which are on the same servers, and using the same infrastructure as the rest of the songs. This is just a stupid money grab and nothing else. What happens if an old song all of a sudden pops into the top 100? it become pricier. Any reason? No.

Protest the increase; don't buy the higher priced songs.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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