Apple makes buying iTunes music easy as 1-2-3

Cupertino (CA) – Today marks the end of an era. As announced in January, Apple’s $0.99 iTunes one price fits all music track pricing system has migrated to a new three tier pricing system, ranging from $0.69, to $0.99 to $1.29 — depending on age and popularity of track.

So far, 60% of top 10 songs on iTunes are at $1.29, with 54% of top 100 songs at $1.29. No songs in the top 100 are priced at $0.69, and the lesser-priced tracks appear to be scarce, at least at first.

According to Apple, most songs will remain priced at the current $0.99 per track price. However, the more popular songs will begin selling at $1.29 with less popular and older songs selling for $0.69. Apple promised that there would be more $0.69 tracks than $1.29 tracks, though initial reports indicate this is not yet the case making this, in fact, an actual price increase to users.

For example, Apple has 54% of its top 100 songs priced at $1.29 compares to Amazon’s MP3 store bestsellers which only has 10% of its top 100 songs priced above $0.99 — with none of those being top 10 tracks. Note also that Apple has been changing its prices around today since launching this new pricing system. Earlier reports had 29% of the top 100 at $1.29. TG Daily noted earlier it was 55%, and now it is at 54%.

iTunes has become the largest online retailer of music and the record labels have targeted Apple to enforce their monetary desires. In fact, Apple CEO Steve Jobs quoted this reason explicitly in January when he said, “And beginning in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, with most albums still priced at $9.99.” [Our bolding. -Editor]

The songs are in the iTunes Plus format, which is a 256 Kbps format that, according to Apple, provides “audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings.”

Apple still provides many songs for free download, as well as many live radio broadcasts, which are also free. Launch or download Apple’s iTunes 8.1.1 (70.9 MB download) to see the new prices.

Price breakdown of current Top 100:

iTunes Prices
Top 100
$0.69 $0.99 $1.29
Alternative 0 5
(62.5%)
3
(37.5%)
Comedy 0 0
1
Country 0 15
(71.4%)
6
(28.6%)
Hip-Hop/Rap 0 9
(45.0%)
11
(55.0%)
Pop 0 13
(44.8%)
16
(55.2%)
R&B/Soul 0 3
(42.9%)
4
(57.1%)
Rock 0 4
(50.0%)
4
(50.0%)
Soundtrack 0 5
(83.3%)
1
(16.7%)
Total 0 54
(54.0%)
46
(46.0%)

46% of the Top 100 items are now 30% more expensive, making this new move a notable price increase despite Apple’s assurance that many more songs will be offered at $0.69 compared to $1.29. The oldest song on the Top 100 is Journey’s 1978 hit, “Don’t Stop Believin'” at #65, which sells for $1.29. Every other song is 2007 or more recent.

Opinion

Do not be fooled by this three-tier price structure. This is a price increase. After searching around for a while looking for old tracks, less popular tracks, or tracks that I thought might be of the $0.69 variety, I could not find a single one anywhere. Old albums, less popular artists, songs that didn’t receive much air play even in years gone by, etc., they are all still priced at $0.99.

This isn’t to say Apple won’t roll out $0.69 songs over time, but as of today the only thing Apple has done is begin charging you more to buy music.

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