Vicarious Music & Media

$1.29 for top 100 songs on iTunes???

Blog from today’s NY TIMES

Change is hard. So today might be a difficult day for some music lovers. The country’s largest music retailer, Apple, is finally flipping the switch on what it calls “variable pricing” and on what the music industry calls the last, best hope to turn around its rapidly declining fortunes.

That single, comforting price of 99 cents for all songs in the iTunes music store is being replaced today by three pricing tiers: 69 cents for the oldies-but-not-so-goodies, $1.29 for some hot new hits, and 99 cents for nearly everything else. Apple is setting the prices based on the wholesale prices set by the music labels.

Apple described the changes in January at Macworld, but today we have the first specific indications of how the music labels will approach the new tiers. Here’s a quick first look. Thirty-three of the top 100 songs now sell at $1.29 – and the rest at 99 cents.

Sony BMG has priced the recent Pink single “So What” and the elegantly titled Kelly Clarkson single, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” at $1.29.

Universal Records’ Interscope label has priced the new Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and Soulja Boy songs at $1.29 as well. Warner has songs from country crooners the Zac Brown band at the higher tier as well.

But songs from Disney’s Miley Cyrus and EMI’s Coldplay and Katy Perry, all popular artists, remain at 99 cents.

The new scheme was the result of sometime rancorous negotiations between Apple and the music labels. The Times reported in February that Apple agreed to the studios’ demands for variable pricing only in exchange for allowing iPhone owners to buy songs over the 3G network, and for dropping the copyright protections known as digital rights management on digital music files.

Today Apple is also completing that transition. The ten million tracks in the iTunes store are now finally free of Apple’s proprietary Fairplay DRM, which restricted iTunes customers to playing protected songs only on their computers or on Apple devices like the iPod and iPhone. All the songs in the iTunes library are now encoded in what Apple is calling iTunes Plus, which is a verison of its AAC format encoded at a higher bit rate. Users can now freely swap songs among their computers and transfer them onto any device, including a mobile phone.

The changes come as the NPD Group reports that rival Amazon has achieved a small beachhead in the legal digital music market, with a 16 percent market share. Some rivals and music industry analysts have suggested the higher prices come at a particularly bad time for the newly frugal American consumer, who had grown quite accustomed to 99 cent purchases. Amazon might now increase its share, since it now sells many of the same hits for a lower price.

So let’s ask Bits readers to settle this: are you now more or less likely to buy music from iTunes?

update: Apple points to some oldies-but-goodies that are indeed priced at 69 cents, including songs from Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen. Note: this link will open iTunes on your desktop.

0 Responses to $1.29 for top 100 songs on iTunes???

  1. Pingback: Apple iTunes Raises Price Of Top 100 Singles To $1.29 | Trill Hip-Hop

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