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Apple’s iTunes price hike
The largest U.S. music retailer breaks the dollar-a-song barrier. Will music buyers play along?
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fter “six blissful years,” Apple has dropped its soothing “every song for under a buck” motto, said Sean Daly in the St. Petersburg Times. Apple’s iTunes online store, the top U.S. music retailer, is now selling song downloads for one of three prices: the original 99 cents, 69 cents, or $1.29. And while some “golden oldies” dropped to 69 cents, way more songs were jacked up to $1.29. “What other industry is raising prices these days?”

The price increase is the result of “sometime rancorous negotiations” between Apple and the music labels, said Brad Stone in The New York Times online. The music industry sees this “variable pricing” scheme as its “last, best hope to turn around its rapidly declining fortunes.” But instead it could boost iTunes’ competitors, including Amazon.

Perhaps, but Amazon also raised its top price to $1.29 on Tuesday, said Seth Weintraub in Computerworld. And why not? In a “rationalist capitalist economy” not all songs are worth the same, and people will vote with their wallets. Less kosher, capitalism-wise, is that the record labels seem to be giving Amazon better wholesale prices, to boost it as a “counterbalance to Apple’s growing monopoly.”

Forget the prices, said Rob Pegoraro in The Washington Post. Tuesday “will long be remembered” for a bigger shift: the beginning of the end of digital rights management, or DRM, restrictions. Variable pricing is the penalty we pay for Apple’s dropping of DRM “digital locks.” It’s well worth the extra 30 cents.

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