Apple bites into iTunes pricing

03.30.09 8 years ago

Get those 99-cent tracks from iTunes while you can. According to stories in both the LA Times  and Digital Music News , when iTunes switches to variable pricing on April 7, a lot of tracks will go at the higher price of $1.29.

The idea-which the labels have been clamoring for– was instead of selling every song at 99 cents, to price them more accordingly. Maybe obscure cuts go for 69 cents to encourage people to take a chance. Or hot singles are at 69 cents for a day before going up to 99 cents as stunt pricing. Now it looks like that 69 cent price point may be a little lonely. While the majority of the 10million tracks offered on iTunes are expected to stay at 99 cents, many tracks-the ones you probably want to buy-will go to $1.29.

It will be an interesting experiment to see if folks who always felt like 99 cents was fair and, therefore, didn’t steal music, will now feel that crossing the dollar threshold for a track is too much. The price of the download will be determined by the wholesale cost that the label charges Apple for the track. ]

The LA Times piece suggests that hit songs (I’m thinking like Flo-Rida’s “Right Round”) will be boosted to $1.29, as will classic cuts that people want to cherry pick. The labels hope this is a small way to offset the decrease in CD sales.

Apple resisted changing pricing from 99 cents for a long time because it felt it was too confusing to the customer to offer different price points when the whole concept of downloading music was still in its infancy. Now the debate is is it too late to make this switch when people are accustomed to paying 99 cents (if anything at all) and why ask people to pay more during a recession. On the other hand, shouldn’t there be a “supply-and-demand” sensibility attached to downloads instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

What do you think? I think iTunes will take a hit at first, but then, soon, like almost anything else, people will shrug and pay it anyway.

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