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Apple Shifts iTunes Pricing; $0.69 Tracks MIA 429

Posted by kdawson
from the where-it-comes-down-that-is-not-my-department dept.
Hodejo1 writes "Steve Jobs vowed weeks ago that when iTunes shifted to a tiered price structure in April, older tracks priced at $0.69 would outnumber the contemporary hits that are rising to $1.29. Today, several weeks later, iTunes made the transition. While the $1.29 tracks are immediately visible, locating cheaper tracks is proving to be an exercise in futility. With the exception of 48 songs that Apple has placed on the iTunes main page, $0.69 downloads are a scarce commodity. MP3 Newswire tried to methodically drill down to unearth more of them only to find: 1) A download like Heart's 34-year-old song Barracuda went up to $1.29, not down. 2) Obscure '90s Brit pop and '50s rockabilly artists — those most likely to benefit from a price drop — remained at $0.99. 3) Collected tracks from a cross-section of 1920s, '30s, and '40s artists all remained at $0.99. Finally, MP3 Newswire called up tracks in the public domain from an artist named Ada Jones who first recorded in 1893 on Edison cylinder technology. The price on all of the century-old, public-domain tracks remained at $0.99. (The same tracks are available for free on archive.org.) The scarcity of lower-priced tracks may reflect the fact that the labels themselves decide which price tier they want to pursue for a given artist; and they are mostly ignoring the lower tier. Meanwhile, Amazon's UK site has decided to counter-promote their service by dropping prices on select tracks to 29 pence ($0.42)."
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Apple Shifts iTunes Pricing; $0.69 Tracks MIA

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  • Meanwhile, Amazon's UK site has decided to counter-promote their service by dropping prices on select tracks to 29 pence ($0.42).

    At the risk of sounding like an Amazon shill, Engadget helps those of you looking to get this week's disposable music [engadget.com] that's shoved down your gullet on the radio.

    They are not without flaw though, even their Barracude by Heart [amazon.com] is a confusing $1.29 (must have been an expensive song to produce) and I also rarely find their $0.79 tracks. I think albums on both sites are a standard $10 though, correct? So it's not that big of a difference for people like me that are interested in the artist and the album as a whole when the other 11 tracks aren't phoned in. Sometimes I find shorter albums a few bucks cheaper on Amazon. Haven't cared to check iTunes for that.

    Hope the Amazon US site follows suit with that 29 pence action.

  • Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SultanCemil (722533) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:53PM (#27498553)
    Does it surprise anybody that the labels would not drop prices when not forced to? There is no competition between different labels to sell the same product (song) so why would they drop the price on a desired product (song) ?
    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:09PM (#27498663)

      There is no competition between different labels to sell the same product (song)

      TFS mentions tracks in the public domain. Anyone can sell those tracks - how do you explain the pricing there? That can't be the Label's bullying poor defenceless Apple.

      • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Suzuran (163234) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:41PM (#27498911)

        If you are running a business, ASCAP will bill you for ANY performance, whether or not you are playing free music.

        • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:25PM (#27499249) Homepage

          If you are running a business, ASCAP will bill you for ANY performance, whether or not you are playing free music.

          They might, but they are not supposed to [woodpecker.com].

        • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Informative)

          by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:10AM (#27499547) Homepage

          As I'm currently researching a tangential issue for a journal article right now, I have found numerous cases and pronouncements from Congress that if the song file is transferred (as distinguished from streamed), it is a public distribution, not a public performance.

          Thus, ASCAP should not be implicated when you're selling tracks (as distinguished from streaming radio).

          Yes, I know from a technical standpoint there isn't much difference between streaming and transferring a 4MB MP3 file with speeds the way they are now over the net.

          However, it basically breaks down to: a streamed MP3 is "performed" and the "performance" is sent over the net. However, a merely transferred MP3 is sent as a piece of data that is meant for later performance.

          Think of it as the difference between sending a VHS recording of a play you produced and transmitting a live show over the airwaves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Culture20 (968837)

        That can't be the Label's bullying poor defenceless Apple.

        Actually, it can be. Just the same way that Microsoft charges more for Windows to OEMs which sell Linux-based products.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537)

        Well my first question would be, who put them on iTunes? Did Apple set the price, or did someone else?

        Now I don't know who would put up public domain songs, or who would collect the profits. Does Apple get the full $0.99? It seems like they should be able to do that, but somehow I doubt that they have. Anyone have real information on that? I tried looking it up on the store to see who it had listed as the record label, but with the only thing that was a full album of Ada Jones that I could see, it sai

      • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by afidel (530433) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:36AM (#27499989)
        I wonder if that track really is in the public domain, there's a good chance that the recording on iTunes and Amazon has been digitally remastered. I know I was listening to Science Friday some time ago and they had a guy on who was a world class scientist in signal analysis and some label had approached him to come up with a way to recover the only know live (wire) recordings of Woody Guthrie. While that performance would not be out of copyright is the US anyways (damn Disney) the technical and creative masterpiece of recovering and remastering it probably deserves some coverage as a creative work in and of itself. You can read a bit about it here [woodyguthrie.org] or listen to the interview here [sciencefriday.com].
    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:43PM (#27498935)
      In my mind they're competing against illegal downloads. Some people would rather torrent rather than purchase an album at $1.29 per track, having a lower price could start converting fence-sitters like these.
      • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dhalka226 (559740) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:49AM (#27499769)

        Unfortunately, they're also competing against themselves. Take my story from just today:

        I had heard a song and decided I wanted it. I poked around a little bit but couldn't find the song; I didn't see it in iTunes, not on Amazon mP3, not on Walmart's MP3 service. I could get the whole CD from Amazon, but apparently it was only released on a Canadian label in Canada, and I wasn't inclined to pay $25 to buy an import--particularly when I had never heard the other songs on the CD and only wanted that one.

        Eventually I went to the artist's website. "Ah HA!" I said to myself. There was a "buy this on iTunes" link. I had no idea how I missed it on iTunes the first time, but no matter. Click the link, iTunes pops up dutifully. And--what's this? "This item is not available in the US version of iTunes. Click here to switch stores." Okay, no problem. Except that apparently it is a problem, since as a US customer I'm not special enough to buy anything from the iTunes Canadian store.

        So I pirated the damn song.

        I literally tried to give these people my money. I went out of my way to do so, I registered with iTunes and was about to buy the first song I've ever bought from them (I don't care for it or Apple very much) just to give them my money--and they refused it. There's certainly no TECHNICAL reason they couldn't have given me the song; in fact, they had to go out of their way to impose the technical limitation that I couldn't get it. But for whatever reason, that was the choice they made. So I walked away.

        I say all that just to get to this: They still don't understand the Internet. They want to have their cake and eat it too*; to have their exclusivity and licensing deals, to continue selling music at frankly inflated prices and only pay lip service to the way the Internet has and WILL change their industry. Well, so be it. They're the copyright owners. But so long as they go out of their way to gouge us on prices (it seriously costs as much to buy the CD online as get it from the store now?!), prevent "undesirables" from buying their music and otherwise make the legal route the most unreasonable, largest pain in the ass way of getting music... they'll never stand any chance against piracy. I don't feel the slightest bit bad about what I did today. I would have paid the $1.29 even though I think it's too expensive. I would have paid the $0.99 feeling the same way. I couldn't. Until this sort of nonsense changes, they have little chance of actually getting any number of fence-sitters to their side. So long as piracy remains both the cheapest and the easiest way of acquiring things, it will remain the biggest.

        This is my annoyance as a US customer, and in reality I have access to the majority of things I might want. Imagine how many would-be customers they're shutting out even from US operations by no doubt excluding the rest of the world as I was excluded from the Canadian offering. Think they'll learn?

        * Stupidest expression ever? I think so.

        • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Clovert Agent (87154) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @04:36AM (#27500697)

          They want to have their cake and eat it too*
          * Stupidest expression ever? I think so.

          It seems senseless until you realise that it's back to front in today's common usage. The expression means "they want to eat their cake and still have it afterwards".

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dave1791 (315728)

          As someone who has lived outside the US for many years, I've seen this soooooooo often.

          I tried to buy Ken Burns' "The Civil War" a few years ago on DVD. They would not ship to my (at the time) German address. I wrote to PBS about it and they answered "licensing deals... blah... blah". So I bought it in Wal Mart the next time I was in the US and brought it back to play on my hacked player.

          My daughter is a big Avatar fan. They would not sell me the Season 3 DVDs as it was not yet released in Europe. My s

    • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by maxume (22995) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:48PM (#27498973)

      There is competition, just not exact competition. If you have $5 to spend on music and enjoy 15 different songs about the same amount, you will maximize your enjoyment if you buy the cheapest songs. That's incredibly contrived, but I don't think it is completely ridiculous.

      • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:59PM (#27499067)

        Probably depends on the consumer. I personally always want more music than I'm willing to spend money on, so I will move around things in the purchase queue (I prefer physical media, though) based on price--- a CD selling for more than my usual price range (say, $20+) might get deferred or never purchased, while some band selling $10 CDs directly out of their van will probably get a purchase right away.

        Some people have more directed music shopping, though: they want a specific album or song, and are looking to go buy it. They might be less price sensitive, at least within reasonable ranges.

    • by miro f (944325)

      It doesn't surprise anyone but you'd think they could have learned a lesson from Gabe Newell:

      http://venturebeat.com/2009/02/18/valves-gabe-newell-kicks-off-dice-summit-with-digital-downloading-talk/ [venturebeat.com]

    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:08PM (#27499123) Journal

      There is no competition between different labels to sell the same product (song) so why would they drop the price on a desired product (song) ?

      Because:

      a) You don't have to buy the song. You can keep the money and spend it on something better.
      b) You can buy other music with that same money. There's no reason why you can't get similar satisfaction from a different song.

      When I go to bakery that bakes their own breads, I know going into it that I'm not going to be able to find that exact same bread anywhere else. Yet, for some reason, they don't charge $100 per loaf. Strange.

    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:32PM (#27499317)

      It's time for Apple to start signing artists directly; bypassing the record companies for new recordings.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:02PM (#27498615) Homepage Journal

    It looks like that really is the answer.

  • by l00sr (266426) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:03PM (#27498619)

    The funny thing behind the "lowered" prices is that various albums used to be offered for $10 with no hullaballoo at all. I bought Throwing Copper (a 90's alt-rock masterpiece) in 2005 for $6, and I bought Blues Travelers' Four just last year for $6.41, both from ITMS. The price of each of those albums now: $10. Admittedly, I didn't get DRM-free versions for the lower prices, but it still seems fishy.

    Makes one wonder how many albums like this have actually seen stealth price increases.

  • Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:04PM (#27498631) Homepage Journal

    We have Amazon. The only thing keeping iTunes relevant is the fact that Apple won't let anything else talk to the iPhone, and they refuse all other music players for the device.

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:22PM (#27498781)

      You can buy your music from amazon and just import it into itunes. iTunes is a database for you to organize your collection. iTunes music store is the store.

      captcha: monogamy

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lucas teh geek (714343) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:56PM (#27499039)
      no, the USA has Amazon. like so many other sites involving music, people outside of the USA get shafted
  • by CyberZCat (821635) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:06PM (#27498635)

    This is a bad move in my opinion and will only encourage piracy. If you do the math, you'll realize that for someone to legally acquire say, 20GB worth of music (3MB avg.) at $1.00 per song, it would cost nearly $7,000. The thing is that as time goes on, hard drives are only going to be getting bigger and cheaper. Additionally as fast broadband becomes even more widespread it will mean that illegal downloading will become easier and the price factor with eventually decrease to nothing.

    How much do you think some TV show is worth to a typical viewer? How about a song? Even though it might be $1.00-$1.29 today, as people get more media with the same investment in space and time the value is only going to decline. Your iPod can hold more, so you want more media to fill it up. NOBODY is going to spend $6,000 on their music collection. Well I suppose SOME people might, but certainly nobody that I know would ever even think about paying that much for something they can get for free (and at the same, or near-same quality). Only a dollar per song sounds pretty reasonable, but if you have a 160GB iPod, filling it up will cost $48,000! $48,000?! Just think of what that kind of money can mean to somebody. Pay off the credit card debt. Get a new car. Remodeling. Any number of major things.

    I'd say we are QUITE past the point of something "worth paying for". As soon as a person downloads a song "illegally" they cross an invisible line and are now "pirates". And of course once you do it once, it's so easy to do again. That makes it sound like a drug but it's true. If you can get something easily for free, what's the point in paying for it? The best reason I can think of is if you get a significant amount of value added by actually paying for it. When this happens people become significantly more selective about what they DO actually pay for verses what they download for free. And of course, the media itself is practically free.

    Basically I think that if companies what to directly sell their media to consumers, it will have to cost fractions of a cent, and they're going to have to come up with some clever ideas on how to provide it to make it easier than simply downloading it for free. It'll probably have to offer other value as well.

    For example with TV shows companies should experiment with broadcasts which actually "upgraded" for the web. The idea is that you put your show online with ads for people to see for free. In terms of music, I think bands should get "distributors" which distribute all their music in very large inexpensive packages. Then the band can offer their music for free download on their website for their casual fans, but while simultaneously selling media and merchandise to their more loyal fans (who don't mind spending a little bit to support the band) with added value. I think there are still many ways to make good money off of media, but the truth is that the pay per unit or copy model is dying and won't be around much longer.

    • by CheeseTroll (696413) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:18PM (#27498745)

      I don't get the correlation between the size of one's hard drive and the price of music. Why does owning more storage space entitle a person to fill it up for the same price as last year's smaller drive?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CyberZCat (821635)

        Well let's say you have a 50GB MP3 collection, would you spend $12,000-$13,000 on it? Ten years ago, would you have even IMAGINED that you'd have a 50GB MP3 collection?! I mean, I remember when 4GB-8GB drives were "freakin' massive!" and that was well into the "Napster era".

        Granted, people buy larger storage devices because they don't have much of a choice (I can't count the number of times I only *needed* a small drive but ended up getting something way overkill because it was the smallest drive I could fi

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ianare (1132971)

          Instead of focusing on quantity, why not focus on quality ? If hard drives and broadband connections can handle it, why not offer songs in .wav or flac format ? That will fill a hard drive pretty quick, even by modern standards. It would also give a much needed competitive edge to legitimate sources of music.

          Of course this is assuming the pieces of shit running the major record companies have any amount of sense or intelligence.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        It doesn't entitle them to anything, it just makes it more attractive. "Hey, I could spend $1,000 putting music on my iPod, or I could just take it. Hmmmmmm."

      • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:03PM (#27499095)
        The value of 10days of music versus 20days is not twice as much. This should be reflected. If I listen to 3hours of music a day with 10,000 or 100,000songs my enjoyment only increases marginally.

        If you think about it like a radio station it makes more sense. E-radio stations are charged per song they play. That price is based on number of listeners. So with an infinite number of songs available (like a radio station) paying to broadcast to an audience of 1 (me). It would probably cost me something like 2$ a month if i listened 5hrs/day (I'd pay 5~10x that). With INFINITE music available. Explain why this isn't available. I mean I suppose I could try to actually set up an e-radio with 1 listener and negotiate deals with record companies but that seems needlessly difficult.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Mod parent up.

        To think that filesize and price are correlated is absurd. It's the production cost and value of those bits that determines price.

        Replace "MP3" with "software" and this becomes obvious. A bargain-bin game might cost you $5/GB, whereas a specialized 10 MB medical/industrial program could cost $10,000 per seat.

    • by tyrione (134248)

      This is a bad move in my opinion and will only encourage piracy. If you do the math, you'll realize that for someone to legally acquire say, 20GB worth of music (3MB avg.) at $1.00 per song, it would cost nearly $7,000. The thing is that as time goes on, hard drives are only going to be getting bigger and cheaper. Additionally as fast broadband becomes even more widespread it will mean that illegal downloading will become easier and the price factor with eventually decrease to nothing.

      How much do you think some TV show is worth to a typical viewer? How about a song? Even though it might be $1.00-$1.29 today, as people get more media with the same investment in space and time the value is only going to decline. Your iPod can hold more, so you want more media to fill it up. NOBODY is going to spend $6,000 on their music collection. Well I suppose SOME people might, but certainly nobody that I know would ever even think about paying that much for something they can get for free (and at the same, or near-same quality). Only a dollar per song sounds pretty reasonable, but if you have a 160GB iPod, filling it up will cost $48,000! $48,000?! Just think of what that kind of money can mean to somebody. Pay off the credit card debt. Get a new car. Remodeling. Any number of major things.

      I'd say we are QUITE past the point of something "worth paying for". As soon as a person downloads a song "illegally" they cross an invisible line and are now "pirates". And of course once you do it once, it's so easy to do again. That makes it sound like a drug but it's true. If you can get something easily for free, what's the point in paying for it? The best reason I can think of is if you get a significant amount of value added by actually paying for it. When this happens people become significantly more selective about what they DO actually pay for verses what they download for free. And of course, the media itself is practically free.

      Basically I think that if companies what to directly sell their media to consumers, it will have to cost fractions of a cent, and they're going to have to come up with some clever ideas on how to provide it to make it easier than simply downloading it for free. It'll probably have to offer other value as well.

      For example with TV shows companies should experiment with broadcasts which actually "upgraded" for the web. The idea is that you put your show online with ads for people to see for free. In terms of music, I think bands should get "distributors" which distribute all their music in very large inexpensive packages. Then the band can offer their music for free download on their website for their casual fans, but while simultaneously selling media and merchandise to their more loyal fans (who don't mind spending a little bit to support the band) with added value. I think there are still many ways to make good money off of media, but the truth is that the pay per unit or copy model is dying and won't be around much longer.

      Perhaps for the POP music lovin' hordes you find the thought of buying an artist's entire disc unconscionable but most of us who have bands we love, buying the entire disc for

      Somehow, roughly 10 discs will cover your 7GB theory.

      Apple's not going to complain too much. They got me to buy their player and I bought the artist's work in some other means.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A) I can't stand this stupid idea that people pander around about how much it would cost to fill an iPod. Yes you idiot it would cost that much to fill it with just songs! No, no one I know actually fills their iPod past 20% to 50% with about 10% to 15% being iTunes music.

      B) ZOMG!!!111!1!1! You pirate! No, actually about 40% of my iPod is pictures (remember it can do that?!), 15% is music (for me about 5% is iTunes, 10% is stuff from my CDs), 10% is contact information and calendars, 15% is podcast (I

    • by ianare (1132971) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:40PM (#27499359)

      NOBODY is going to spend $6,000 on their music collection. Well I suppose SOME people might, but certainly nobody that I know would ever even think about paying that much for something they can get for free (and at the same, or near-same quality).

      Actually, you can easily find entire albums on bittorrent at lossless quality (.flac) and of course DRM and watermark free ... only thing is if you're looking for something a bit obscure you'll have a tough time finding it.

      As I see it, the convenience factor is really all there is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by syousef (465911)

      NOBODY is going to spend $6,000 on their music collection.

      Some idiots spend that much on a cable!

  • Who cares (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tuxgeek (872962)

    Support you favorite artist by buying his/hers CD.
    Rip it to your favorite format. I prefer ogg.
    Copy it to your favorite personal player, I prefer the Cowon iAudio 7
    Simple

    Last I checked, (I could be wrong) iTunes and iTunes products are locked in DRM hell, preventing you the freedom to copy your bought merchandise from laptop to portable player and vise versa.

    $1.29 per track? WTF, are they made of gold?
    What prevents anyone from just copying a favorite tune from the airwaves and slapping it to silicon, for fr

    • Actually, the tracks themselves are DRM-Free, the thing is, Apple doesn't want you to use them on other media players either, so they aren't going to make that be easy.
    • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bieeanda (961632) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:32PM (#27498855)
      "Your favorite artist" sees just about zilch from CD sales, unless they're totally independent. If you want to support them, go see them in concert.
      • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ubernostrum (219442) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:26AM (#27499643) Homepage

        "Your favorite artist" sees just about zilch from CD sales, unless they're totally independent. If you want to support them, go see them in concert.

        If "your favorite artist" is signed to a major label, or to an imprint of a major label, then he/she/they is/are in permanent debt slavery. Neither album sales nor concert ticket sales nor t-shirt sales nor anything else will remedy that; the outlay for concert tours comes from the label just like the outlay for recording, album production, distribution, etc.

    • Isn't format shifting illegal anyways?
    • iTunes is now completely DRM-free, at least, for the music section.

      By the way, can anyone tell me why this guy is a troll? Is being humbly ignorant of the latest trends sufficient to make you a troll these days?

  • Of course, Barracuda by Heart might not be the best example, as it was featured in Guitar Hero 3 and the series (along with Rock Band) as the reputation of increasing sales of their featured songs. Of course the labels are going to raise prices on hits, and sell the crap for cheap, just like those DVD bargin bins.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:12PM (#27498689) Journal

    It will be very interesting to see what happens to sales on this.

    There is a price where profit is maximized. Go too high and the sales drop eats more then the added profit per unit provides.

    Old saying: "Fast nickels are better than slow dimes." Let's see if Apple has switched from the former to the latter.

    • There is a price where profit is maximized. Go too high and the sales drop eats more then the added profit per unit provides.

      You think that's what this is about? First of all, I doubt the people at the record labels are really paying that much attention. The record companies have been complaining for years that Apple wouldn't allow them to set their own prices, and forced them to sell at $0.99. When customers said in return, "Good, we don't want you to drive up prices," the record companies came back and said, "No, we want to lower prices, too!" And no big surprise, they get their chance, and no prices have been lowered.

      Part

  • by robkill (259732) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:14PM (#27498705)

    In the Label's mind:

    1.) In demand tunes should be higher-priced due to supply and demand.

    2.) Older obscure tunes should be higher priced to recoup production costs over the smaller sales volume.

    Historically, big labels would have lower prices on new releases by B-list or unknown artist that they were pushing to break big, or leftover stock that didn't sell and was never going to sell. Digital downloads mean no leftover stock or inventory costs. There may be some "teaser tracks" out at $0.69, from major labels, but not many. I could see an artist on their own label or a small independent selling that low if it would bring a much wider audience to their work.

  • by Pearson (953531) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:14PM (#27498709)
    I realize it makes too much sense for the RIAA to ever agree to it, but the prices should be based on demand. If a song gets downloaded a lot at $.99, then bump it to $1.29. If a song isn't getting downloaded, then drop the price to $.69. That way if a song becomes hot for some reason, they would get more money, and if a song is forgotten, the bargain shoppers will be more inclined to buy it (assuming you could search by price).
    • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:24PM (#27498803) Journal

      Why? The supply and demand model is based on the idea of scarcity of a resource. The product they are selling, a digital copy of a piece of music, has no scarcity. You can make as many copies as you want for virtually no cost.

      • by RudeIota (1131331) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:03PM (#27499097) Homepage

        I realize it makes too much sense for the RIAA to ever agree to it, but the prices should be based on demand. If a song gets downloaded a lot at $.99, then bump it to $1.29.

        Why? The supply and demand model is based on the idea of scarcity of a resource.

        Well, money isn't infinite... The "scarcity of resource" isn't the product, but rather the money used to purchase it.

        It may not be traditional economics, but there is an optimal price for every song that will make the most money. I don't have a formula to figure out what that might be, but using a system similar to what was suggested might get them closer to capitalizing more on music tracks than just flat fees based on guesses of what's going to be hot.

        • by Marcika (1003625) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @04:59AM (#27500775)

          It may not be traditional economics, but there is an optimal price for every song that will make the most money. I don't have a formula to figure out what that might be[...[

          It is traditional economics, and it is called the "single price monopoly pricing problem". Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has the formula and background info. Of course if they really want to properly gouge their consumers for all their worth, they'd also introduce some price discrimination [wikipedia.org]...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      ...That makes no sense in the digital world. Whereas a physical CD could be overstocked, theres no way you can "overstock" a digital song. So while it might make some economic sense to do it that way, most labels will just price everything at $1.29 and keep on going. The .69 price point will almost never be reached because either A) The song needs to be expensive to justify recording it, B) Its a popular song C) When its old its still known as one of the artist's greatest hits, and their lesser-known hits w
  • Didn't they get rid of the DRM for this price increase though?
  • pathetic situation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:23PM (#27498791)

    It's amazing to see that people are being forced to pay anything at all for music recorded in the 1920's, 30's and 40's. With the huge majority of these recordings, none of the artists are still alive, nor the producers or other personnel who worked on the recordings.

    To say that somehow somebody today still effectively "owns" those recordings and deserves control over them as "properties", and ought to be able to force other people to pay for them, is just a completely absurd situation. These "owners" had no involvement at all in producing the recordings. And the recordings themselves likely made all their investment back plus profits several decades ago.

    So why is it that people today are still willing to pay money to get the recordings of these long dead artists? Because they fear legal prosecution for pirating them, of course. The "owners" of this ancient music are nothing other than manipulators of a team of lawyers that will threaten anyone who attempts to access the recordings without payment. Are there some who really feel ethical compulsion to pay for such recordings? Do they really feel they're stealing from somebody by not paying? It's pure absurdity.

    This is certainly not what the copyright system is for but it's no surprise that there are people out there abusing the legal system in pathetic attempts to leech "money for nothing" from people who just want to hear the great music produced in those time periods.

    • by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @12:37AM (#27499715) Homepage

      I would happily pay for music from the early 20th century. It's hard to find, especially in high quality restoration. So if somebody goes to the trouble of collecting it, restoring it, digitizing it, and making it convenient to find and download then they deserve to make a profit.

      I agree that century-long copyright is immoral, but not because it makes old music commercially valuable. It's immoral because it denies the value of old music to society. I have some old 78 RPM Victrola records that I digitized and restored. I wanted to host them on an ad-supported site for others to download and thought I was in the clear since they have no copyright notice and seemed to predate the oldest active copyrights. But then I learned that their legal status is unclear and the still-existing record companies might have grounds enough to come after me. So now they're just gathering dust on my hard drive.

  • by lucas teh geek (714343) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:25PM (#27498813)

    The scarcity of lower-priced tracks may reflect the fact that the labels themselves decide which price tier they want to pursue for a given artist; and they are mostly ignoring the lower tier.

    that's ok, I'm just gonna "mostly ignore" the legal alternatives to bittorrent

  • Haven't the labels been chafing under the fact that itunes has a majority share in the online music market for quite some time? Is there a possibility that the labels know that the new pricing (set by them and not apple) will driver customers away from apple, and are setting the prices "too high" deliberately in order to do just that?
  • ...Are Apple forcing people who "upgrade" their Music to DRM free versions to buy their ENTIRE collection of music again not just the good tracks you want to be DRM free??

    Say you (not me honest!!!!) bought that 'Selena Gomez' album when stoned out of your mind on mushrooms! If you want to get that Sweet "Sympathy for the devil" track you bought last year DRM free, you would also need to get that Gomez album as well as all the other DRM enabled stuff at the same time!!! No way to choose individual tracks
  • convenience fee (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:42PM (#27498925) Homepage Journal
    The iTunes music store is one way of buying albums. They have never been the only game in town, and often buying the physical media is cheaper. The only reason to buy from itunes is that it is hooked up with the ipod and easy to do.

    Another reason is that the tracks are not available elsewhere. One can pick a single anecdotal example and say, look, they are selling music that is free elsewhere. My anecdotal example is that I have bought tracks there that I needed in a hurry that I have found no where else. A dollar to solve a problem was a bargain. Some people hate paying a penny more than they have to, likening it to theft, but I am willing to pay for service.

    That said I find myself buying from Amazon, both physical media and downloads. This will only increase as ITMS is now 1.29. I wonder if this is a ploy by labels to forestall the monopoly that the iTMS might become, or a ploy by Apple to sacrifice quantity and make it up in higher per sale profits. Honestly it is not every user that is sophisticated enough to do anything outside of the program they use. Look at how many people are afraid of OO.org. Look at how may people said how horrible VLC was in a recent thread here on /., even though we can assume many that those people probably have little experience with the program. Now assume they are also afraid of many other things outside of their comfort zone, like ripping a CD or importing music from Amazon.

    In any case music has been in a deflationary spiral for years. The last time we saw music keep up with inflation was the introduction of the CD. Now tracks have been stagnant at 99 cents for 5 years, and even if we believe that they were massively overpriced to begin with, we must assume that an adjustment would happen, at least for premium tracks at a premium store. So instead of all tracks inflation adjusted to $1.15, most tracks stay cut rate, while some rise above inflation. And there are still discount places like Amazon, which, as i said, is where I prefer to shop.

    • That's indeed a good point, considering that most of the nonsense surrounding the DRM is gone, you're paying for the ability to turn off your brain and hook up your player... I have a 2nd Gen 10GB iPod (back when the competition was total shit), and I've kept the batteries up on it, but I'm leaning away from the iPod more and more as I like to use FLAC and Ogg... I'm not going to stay on MacOSX forever, considering my PPC's days as a supported platform are nearing completion. :) I'll make my PPC machine a
  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:48PM (#27498971)

    "A download like Heart's 34-year-old song Barracuda...."

    I bought this song when it was released. Thanks for making me feel old.

  • by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:49PM (#27498977) Homepage

    You didn't think the tiered-pricing scam was actually going to save you money, did you? No company ever does stuff like this unless they think they can squeeze more money out of their customers.

  • Let's say your typical CD has about 14 tracks. That's $14 at $1.00 per track. Nearly any CD can be found for less than $14... even at places like Best Buy [bestbuy.com] and let us not forget that includes the personal fulfillment of a physical copy, booklet etc...

    $1.29 x 14 = $18.06.... How can $1.29/song be justified?

    This is completely ass backwards. The music industry HAS to price its products lower or it risks looking completely unattractive to consumers. They can't compete with higher prices against its easily avai
  • I don't know why we bother to whine about MP3 prices. If we don't like the prices, they're all available free for download somewhere else. Conversely, Apple and the labels shouldn't whine about people downloading them free, when so many people are volunteering to pay these ridiculously high and profitable prices to download them from iTunes.

  • gift cards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by backdoc (416006) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:14PM (#27499173)

    This is why gift cards are a bad idea. They instantly made my $75 of gift cards worth about $50.

  • by Like2Byte (542992) <Like2Byte@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:25PM (#27499251) Homepage

    I reluctantly purchased an ipod a few years ago. I didn't know just how much Id grow to love this thing. I love being able to take tunes with me where-ever I go. Then my laptop crashed, I was able to get all my tunes off the HD but wasnt able to get them all loaded back onto the iPod from the fresh XP installation on the same LT.

    ALL of the songs I purchased without DRM I am unable to get back onto my iPod as well as a few others as I changed my password from time to time and cant remember which PW I used when I purchased certain tracks.

    So, iTunes sucks major ass. You can't tell me that Apple doesn't have a record of the songs I purchased over the years. I can't download again one's I've already purchased. It's BS.

    Now, I purchase all my tracks on CD, rip them using cdparanoia and copy to my iPod. iTunes manages the mp3s I create for my own personal use and my podcasts/vidcasts.

    Keep your money as well as your sanity - rip CDs for personal use and dont buy from Apple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Actually, you can email iTunes support and request to have all of your bought tracks queued up for you to download again. They usually only will do it once a life time since their officially policy is that you are suppose back up your purchases, but it has saved quite a few people.

      I will say again, back up your stuff. It may take a few DVDs at worst.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      Don't know if you've been paying attention, but this story is essentially about Apple removing the DRM from it's music so that doesn't happen anymore. Also they changed the prices of some stuff......
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:25PM (#27499261) Homepage

    Apple didn't fool the press. This is being reported as "Apple raises prices 30%". [informationweek.com]

  • Anyone taking bets? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lpangelrob (714473) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @10:34AM (#27503263)

    What's the over/under on the length of time before the labels switch back to 99 cent pricing? I'm going to guess about 3 weeks.

    Roughly the amount of time it took to pull Tropicana out of its nosedive [pitch.com]. Yes, music industry; 99 cents per song is (was) your brand.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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