Friday, 27 March 2009 04:33

iTunes variable pricing to kick off next month

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Apple revealed in January that the days of 'any song you like for 99c' at the iTunes Store were numbered. It seems the change will - as indicated at the time - be implemented in April.

At Macworld Expo last January, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the price of individual tracks sold by the iTunes Store would no longer be fixed at $US0.99.

Apple had finally given in to the music labels' demands for variable pricing, presumably in order to make DRM-free tracks the norm.

From April, Jobs said, songs would be priced at $US0.69, $US0.99 or $US1.29. Most albums would remain at $US9.99.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, the new pricing regime will come into effect on April 7.

It seems that the labels are hoping that a 30 percent price increase won't hurt sales by a corresponding amount, despite the straightened economic circumstances.

Possible scenarios include offering a discounted second track with the purchase of a premium-price song (remember when the 'B side' came for free?).

It's also possible that increasing the price of individual songs from popular artists will make an album seem like a better buy. Some parts of the music industry have long complained that allowing consumers to pick the eyes out of albums with individual downloads hurts artistic integrity as well as revenue.

Over at Amazon, where variable-pricing and no DRM has held sway for some time, the most popular tracks are discounted to $US0.79. Others sell at $US0.89 or $US0.99.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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