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Apple Shifts iTunes Pricing; $0.69 Tracks MIA

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the where-it-comes-down-that-is-not-my-department dept.

Music 429

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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429 comments

Variable Pricing Not the Feature to Have Evidently (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 5 years ago | (#27498549)

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.

Re:Variable Pricing Not the Feature to Have Eviden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498683)

Or, indeed, a "whole album" for 69p:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001NAX5IA/ref=sr_f2_album_9?ie=UTF8&child=B001NB287I&qid=1239156534&sr=102-9

(What do you mean you don't like French 70s prog rock sung in their own made-up language? Some people have no taste...)

Re:Variable Pricing Not the Feature to Have Eviden (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499075)

What's even more confusing is why Barracuda is relatively expensive. I doubt much effort was put into recording it, the guitar sounds like total shit. Only lamers like that song, and here's why:
  • Everybody knows it already
  • The band had chicks in it
  • It's so easy to play that a guitar newfag could get it down in 10 seconds

When the drugs wear off.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 5 years ago | (#27499105)

...Barracude by Heart is a confusing $1.29 (must have been an expensive song to produce)...

Ann Wilson went off of her diet.

(yes, that was mean, but: before [heartlinker.eu], and after [geocities.com]...just saying)

Re:When the drugs wear off.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499125)

All I can see is one fat woman, and then the same on the other pic.

Surprise? (5, Interesting)

SultanCemil (722533) | about 5 years ago | (#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? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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? (3, Interesting)

Suzuran (163234) | about 5 years ago | (#27498911)

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

Re:Surprise? (2, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#27499073)

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:Surprise? (5, Interesting)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 years ago | (#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? (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#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? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Surprise? (1)

miro f (944325) | about 5 years ago | (#27498997)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499101)

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

What lesson? Not to call a Jedi bantha pudu?

Re:Surprise? (4, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 5 years ago | (#27499123)

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.

Get your music from Ninnle! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498567)

The new NinnleTunes from Ninnle Labs is now up and running, and will undercut any other legal online price, with all profits going to the musicians themselves. Log into NinnleTunes NOW!

No rhyme or reason... (5, Interesting)

l00sr (266426) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:No rhyme or reason... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499185)

That post reads like a veritable who's who of 90's lonely gay college student music. The fact you spent money on it makes it worse. What, no Counting Crows?

No, I'm not surprised. (-1, Flamebait)

Elenseel (1510087) | about 5 years ago | (#27498627)

This is Apple we're talking about, so what would anyone expect? I mean, they add money for adding a white apple to a laptop, so clearly, a few cents here and there on each and every song wouldn't warrant a change.

Re:No, I'm not surprised. (4, Insightful)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 5 years ago | (#27498717)

This is Apple we're talking about, so what would anyone expect? I mean, they add money for adding a white apple to a laptop, so clearly, a few cents here and there on each and every song wouldn't warrant a change.

Actually this is not Apple we're talking about. From what I understand, the labels are the ones behind the price increases. Apple had to basically agree or the labels wouldn't allow Apple to have them on ITMS.

Brand fanboy, brand hater; Opposite sides of the same coin.

Re:No, I'm not surprised. (5, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 years ago | (#27498951)

Do you really believe any label with an iota of intelligence would pull all of their work from a distribution network like iTunes? Both sides have power in a situation like this, and the $1.29 is most likely a compromise between the two. Apple is out to make money just as the RIAA is. They hold their customers with just as much contempt as any faceless corporation.

Re:No, I'm not surprised. (5, Insightful)

mabinogi (74033) | about 5 years ago | (#27499201)

Do you really believe any label with an iota of intelligence would pull all of their work from a distribution network like iTunes?

No, but how many labels actually do have an iota of intelligence?

Who cares? (3, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 5 years ago | (#27498631)

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? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499007)

iTunes is a bloated, poorly designed turd for you to organize your collection

Corrected that for you, Captain Obvious.

Re:Who cares? (0)

sukotto (122876) | about 5 years ago | (#27499187)

Right because it's almost the same experience...

You can
1) load iTunes
2) search iTunes
3) buy the track from the iTunes store with one click.
4) listen to the track

Or you can
1) Load your web browser
2) search for a music store
3) buy the track
4) load iTunes
5) import the track you just bought (you can FIND it... right?)
6) listen to the track.

Wait... I was wrong. There's a HUGE difference in ease-of-use.

Re:Who cares? (1, Insightful)

tyrione (134248) | about 5 years ago | (#27498811)

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.

You do well at being mentally stunted. Apple sells more music than WalMart. No way in hell will Amazon overshadow Apple's solution.

Re:Who cares? (2, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 5 years ago | (#27498963)

So? Dell sells three times as many computers as Apple, and nobody cares what Dell does. Those who don't know any better will continue use iTunes, and the sophisticated will use Amazon.

Of course, the smart people buy CDs. They're cheaper than ever, and they come with art, lyrics, and backup media.

Re:Who cares? (4, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 5 years ago | (#27499021)

And more to the point, Amazon only gets special favors as long as the labels need them to be doing something to counteract Apple. Now that they have Apple buckling on variable pricing, there's no need for them to allow Amazon to maintain fixed pricing or otherwise grant Amazon favors. The next time Amazon's contract is up for renegotiation, they'll be forced to moved to move to variable pricing.

Apple was the lynch pin, no one else is currently strong enough to stand up to the labels and block variable pricing. You can go to Amazon today and get tracks at $.99, but tomorrow anything you* would want will be at price parity with the iTunes Music Store.

*You = the average person

Re:Who cares? (1)

Smurf (7981) | about 5 years ago | (#27499227)

We have Amazon.

Except that.... Amazon also started selling tracks at $1.29 today [cnet.com]. Granted, Amazon's $0.79 songs seem to be more frequent than Apple's $0.69 songs.

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.

It seems you are mixing up iTunes (the media player) and the iTunes Store, which you access through the iTunes player.

You need iTunes if you have an iPod or iPhone. But you don't need the iTunes Store, which is the topic of discussion, since you can use Amazon's MP3s (or any other non-DRMed files) in iTunes and in your iPod/iPhone.

Similarly, you can use your iTunes Plus files on any player that plays AAC, i.e., most players sold nowadays.

Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dying (4, Interesting)

CyberZCat (821635) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (4, Insightful)

CheeseTroll (696413) | about 5 years ago | (#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:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498785)

Because you can. Why waste space? If not, why do you have a larger drive?

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (2, Insightful)

CyberZCat (821635) | about 5 years ago | (#27498907)

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 find), but people still find ways to use them. Also, storage capacity and price-per-gigabyte has improved far faster than bandwidth and other technology. So we are hitting that point where people have more hard drive space then they intend to use. That doesn't mean people will never find a way to use it. Remember 640k is enough for anyone and all that jazz...

I mean, do you *really* think that the value of media PER UNIT is ever going to *increase*? My only point is that the value of an individual song or video continues to decrease as people consume more. And people consume more as technology progresses. Bigger hard drives, faster burning devices, more bandwidth, streaming flash videos etc. have all given people access to more material. And whether or not they were ever going to pay for that media and whether or not media companies are losing money because of it is irrelevant. The point is that the value to the consumer keep decreasing and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The Internet is a content delivery platform and with that comes media delivery. The more media someone is exposed to the less value each individual "unit of media" has.

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#27498993)

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."

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#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:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (2, Insightful)

fullfactorial (1338749) | about 5 years ago | (#27499163)

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.

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (1)

tyrione (134248) | about 5 years ago | (#27498831)

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:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (1, Troll)

cripeon (1337963) | about 5 years ago | (#27498857)

Just because hard drives increase in capacity does not mean that I have to fill it up, and fill it up with just music.

For comparison, let's take my own personal case. I'm 17, and my entire music collection clocks in at somewhere around 3.6 G (ridiculously small compared to the old timers 'round these parts). But that's 3.6 G including a whole lot of songs I don't listen to.

Indeed, most of my current music comes from free sources like jamendo, where artists put up their music under CC (or similar?). So, if I wanted to, I could easily, and legally, download music to my hearts content to fill up my 8 gig iPod. But do I want to, or even need to? No.

I'm not going to bother generalizing trends, but from what I notice from the habits my peers is similar. I have friends that walk around with 80 Gb in their pockets, and yet only fill a small portion of that with music. The rest they fill up with movies, or use it as a really large usb stick/small portable hard-drive.

So yes, while your numbers do illustrate your point, I question their relevancy and applicability, at least in my environment.

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (1)

rich90usa (1255170) | about 5 years ago | (#27498865)

You're right about the cost of downloading, it just doesn't work out for the average guy being able to afford it. What I think will happen is a shift from having a downloaded copy where someone is paying per item to some form of subscription model. This being accomplished by either streaming audio/video or some kind of checkout system. Unfortunately, the logistics accomplishing this with portable media like the iPod aren't neatly clear cut - there'd be some kind of DRM to get labels to commit. I think one of the larger players out there already has some kind of subscription model but the popularity isn't great enough that I remember the name and conditions.

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498941)

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 drive two hours one way to work), the rest is just junk files from iWork and stuff. I have about 70% of my 160GB iPod filled.

C) Please stop this crap argument! You got +3 interesting for what I equate as a giant pile of horse shit. I know, that's my view point on your comment, but getting down to brass tacks your argument is moot because no one fills their iPod with just music, if they wanted to just listen to music they could have bought any number of MP3 players at a fraction of the cost. Music companies want to make their dime plus whatever they can extort you for, it's just the way people hustle other people, get over it (Dr. Musiclove: Why I stopped worrying and learned to love the ass raping from the RIAA, no really I don't care that it is over priced) OR buy indie music if you really want a flipping change.

D) Really I don't think you're an idiot but I'm so tired of people saying this kind of crap. It's such an uneducated rationale.

Re:Media is overpriced, pay-per-unit model is dyin (1)

vix86 (592763) | about 5 years ago | (#27499169)

This seems like flawed logic. So because I have a huge HDD for my computer or my Ipod, the media that exists (songs/videos) should be dirt cheap to reflect the falling price of media space?

I do agree though with the general idea you were touching on though, which is that the intellectual property industry is going to need to adapt to the digital age. Its pretty clear that the IP industry is going to suffer from a sort of "Tragedy of the Commons" ordeal. Many people will have a hard time justifying paying for IP when its 'free' for easy download elsewhere on the internet. The industry can fight back using the law, but looking at past responses the internet has made when the law stepped in, I doubt much can be done. When they shut down Napster, one of the first P2Ps, people simply moved to Kazaa. When Kazaa became crap and came under fire, people moved to the newer upgraded system, BitTorrent. Torrents won't ever likely disappear due to their ease of distribution, but the infrastructure for distribution of torrents (i.e., trackers) may change, if it hasn't already.

The only two real answers to these problems as I see it is for the IP industry to adapt to the new way people view IP, which is as at best, as a free/public universal commodity. Or for the IP industry to collapse due to the lack of income, and cause a reshaping of people's ideals on IP. I suppose a third option might be to have the government step in on the IP industry's behalf (which they are doing?) and manage the issue, but this likely won't be effective. Whichever option is chosen is irrelevant, only that something must change if the IP industry is to continue living. They may be fine right now, because there are still plenty of consumers that understand or believe that its "right" to pay for something they want, but will it remain that way in 20-30 years when acquiring the media may be even easier? Not only that but many of the people that have grown up with access to Napster/Kazaa/Torrents, will continue to use them in the future. And assuming the IP industry doesn't start massive brainwashing campaigns (some exist) concerning copyright infringement; there will be even more kids growing up with the same idea that young generation has right now.

Some may argue that the IP industry needs to revert back to something it use to be, which was people making content simply because they love making it (see some independent bands). This is a nice dream, but not realistic in the least. Music and writing might survive under system of "free" giving, but what of movies and television, which even when they weren't "big budget," were still fairly expensive endeavors.

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.

You mentioned using ads to support free content, but if one thing has become clear over the years, it's the fact that many people have come to hate advertising with a passion. Ads are one reason a number of people now download their favorite TV shows off the internet. People will always try to find ways around Ads, and when this becomes pervasive, ads will cease to provide the support needed to run the system.

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.

Like I mentioned above, this might work now because some people actually see that you need to put money into the system in order for it to continue surviving. But if something can be digitized, it will simply be pirated. Incidentally, bands usually don't make much money off the distribution of media as it stands, they make a lot more money off live concerts and people buying their physical memorabilia at those concerts.

Who cares (1, Interesting)

tuxgeek (872962) | about 5 years ago | (#27498657)

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 free.
Sounds like a scam.

Re:Who cares (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#27498783)

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 (4, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 5 years ago | (#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 (1)

mabinogi (74033) | about 5 years ago | (#27499219)

Next time they outlay the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to do an Australian tour, I'll be sure to do that.
In the mean time, I'll buy their albums.

Re:Who cares (1)

paxswill (934322) | about 5 years ago | (#27499089)

The other part to this announcement is that all of the songs are now DRM-free. Just straight 256kbps AAC, no DRM.

Re:Who cares (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 5 years ago | (#27499207)

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?

Guitar Hero (1)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#27498667)

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.

Re:Guitar Hero (4, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 years ago | (#27498739)

Of course the labels are going to raise prices on hits, and sell the crap for cheap, just like those DVD bargin bins.

Except that the whole "sell the crap for cheap" part is missing.

Re:Guitar Hero (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 years ago | (#27498891)

The major labels don't sell crap. Only the small, independent labels and unsigned bands do.

(gah, I can't even preview this laughing)

Will be interesting to see what happens to sales (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 5 years ago | (#27498689)

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.

People still *pay* for music? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498691)

How quaint.

Label marketing philosophy (4, Insightful)

robkill (259732) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Label marketing philosophy (1)

kithrup (778358) | about 5 years ago | (#27498897)

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

You know, the thing that always bugs me when someone says that is... the supply is essentially infinite there. There is no manfacturing limitation of the bits; they're just copied as required, and the demand level doesn't factor into it.

Re:Label marketing philosophy (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#27499043)

From the perspective of the label, the supply is arbitrary (which is much more fun than infinite), so they can (and really, should) ride the demand curve.

They could start songs at $3 and get lots of sales (people are spazzes) and then three months (or whatever) later have them at $0.50 and they would make plenty of money.

Re:Label marketing philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499015)

This is something a group of friends and I are trying at the moment :)

rengrangrecords.co.uk

Let the market price them (4, Interesting)

Pearson (953531) | about 5 years ago | (#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).

Re:Let the market price them (4, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | about 5 years ago | (#27498803)

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.

Re:Let the market price them (3, Insightful)

RudeIota (1131331) | about 5 years ago | (#27499097)

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.

Re:Let the market price them (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498819)

Yep, that's what I call the "Newegg" pricing model. From what I have seen this is exactly what Newegg does. I imagine it's automatic, I don't know but the more something sells the higher the price goes and it's lowered as demand lowers. Kinda funky if you ask me but that's what they seem to do.

Re:Let the market price them (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#27498821)

...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 will be marked up because of reason A.

Re:Let the market price them (1)

Simply Curious (1002051) | about 5 years ago | (#27498965)

It still makes sense, just a different sort of sense. Instead of trying to find the intersection of the supply and demand curves, they are trying to find the maximum point on the cost*sales curve.

Re:Let the market price them (1)

firmamentalfalcon (1187583) | about 5 years ago | (#27498887)

That's a very good idea. That'd make people try out new music to get those surprise hits while they are cheap. They can start lower than 99 cents and make incremental changes to reflect the popularity of the song better, ie. every 1000 people/day download the song, increase the price by 10 cents, and reset the price at night. That way, more people would be willing to buy a song at higher prices, if the price is within a dollar. Trick the people into paying a higher price. Get the most money out of the desperate people who cannot wait to listen to the song, while providing a legal means for people to get the song for cheap, by hoping to refresh the page fast enough, and trying again and again day after day.

Re:Let the market price them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498969)

Of course, market pressures don't really apply so much in monopoly environments (which the labels use copy-right to maintain).

And as others have said, the marginal cost of production is the cost of bandwidth for an mp3.

Tiered Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498733)

obviously, they're overstocked on some songs, so they're lowering the price to $0.69. songs that are in high demand have higher prices because they're more scarce. basic supply and demand, right? :p

Price as a signal, a good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498765)

This article was written way back when the labels started on iTMS. and the author thinks the labels are lying and why.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2005/11/18.html

pathetic situation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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.

reciprocate the record companies behaviour (3, Insightful)

lucas teh geek (714343) | about 5 years ago | (#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

Intentionally killing itms? (2, Interesting)

nebopolis (953349) | about 5 years ago | (#27498841)

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?

Might have been mentioned but... (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | about 5 years ago | (#27498875)

...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!!

Please correct me if i'm wrong!!

Re:Might have been mentioned but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499229)

Please correct me if i'm wrong!!

They have since added that functionality.

convenience fee (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#27498925)

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.

Re:convenience fee (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | about 5 years ago | (#27499065)

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 linux server and use my netbook and new (as yet unpurchased) laptop as my main use machines. :)

It was a fun ride, but as Apple got bigger, they got more like Microsoft and less like an alternative. :) As a OSX only era mac user, I can't say what life was like before... Ah well. I don't mind all that much, and this Leopard machine won't die the day they release Snow Leopard... but as for the "tight integration" with Apple's sphere of influence (iPod/iPhone/iThis/iThat), I'm beginning not to care all that much.... I cancelled my .mac subscription (that was a nice free signup when I was using 10.0.0.4), and use more and more free tools to supplement the iLife stuff that I haven't upgraded since 6. :)

Charging $1.29 for a song when Amazon has the music I want for $.99 or less... just makes it easier to transition. :)

Just use subscription services... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27498967)

I prefer Zune Marketplace. $15/month, and you get 10 mp3 songs as part of the deal, so it's only $5/month. Plus, the Zune Player now playing screen is really pretty snazzy for some artists. Plus, you can't get a 120 GB ipod. Well, ok you can, but you can't fill it up with subscribed music, or use it wirelessly. Before calling me a troll/fanboi/shill, etc... please address the facts. Thanks! I'm not associated with Microsoft.

Heart had a hit song when? (5, Funny)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Heart had a hit song when? (1)

Xgamer4 (970709) | about 5 years ago | (#27499079)

That'd make you, what, 46ish? Give or take (probably give) 4 years? Should I get off your lawn? ;)

Of course they didn't drop the price (2, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | about 5 years ago | (#27498977)

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.

How does $1.29 make sense? (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | about 5 years ago | (#27499063)

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 available, convenient and free "black market" competition.

Re:How does $1.29 make sense? (1)

gapagos (1264716) | about 5 years ago | (#27499247)

You forgot the part where most of the music on that CD is garbage, hence $14 for those 14 tracks is way too expensive. :-P

They're Free (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 5 years ago | (#27499149)

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 (3, Insightful)

backdoc (416006) | about 5 years ago | (#27499173)

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

Competitive pricing? Not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27499199)

I'm amused to see some people's reaction going something like this:
1. Look, Amazon is charging $0.99 for some of the songs that iTunes has for $1.29. (Though there are quite a few songs both are charging $1.29 for.)
2. This means Apple is greedy and evil!
3. I'll show my disapproval of Apple's greed by continuing to buy music there but clicking over to Amazon and buying from them instead when I see a track that they have for cheaper.

The choice of which price to use for a given song is determined by the labels, not Apple. Given what we've heard of the labels' negotiating history with Apple, Amazon, and other online music sellers, it's reasonable to assume that when iTunes charges more than Amazon for a given track, it's because the labels charged Apple more for it.

The major labels don't like that Apple earned a strong bargaining position against them (by actually building a product and service that customers wanted) and are using their position as monopoly rightsholders to undermine competition among online music stores. What happens if Amazon gets successful enough to try to negotiate pricing or terms changes from the labels? They'll just find another music store to prop up and give Amazon customers the shaft. What happens if some newcomer builds the Next Big Thing in music stores? Sorry, Amazon (or Apple, or Microsoft) is the labels' favored dog in this fight right now, so NextBigThing customers will have to pay a premium.

So, go on and buy from Amazon when you see a track that's cheaper there than on iTunes, but know that to do so isn't "sticking it to the man"... on the contrary, you're empowering the RIAA types who want more control over how you can buy music.

Vote with your wallet (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 5 years ago | (#27499243)

Personally, I don't believe there is any justification for *ANY* song to cost more than 69 cents. However, there's an easy answer. Don't buy from them. I am proud to say that I have never bought a song from iTunes and never will.

Love my iPod - Hate iTunes. (4, Informative)

Like2Byte (542992) | about 5 years ago | (#27499251)

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.

thejokerswild82's 2cents worth... (0, Troll)

thejokerswild82 (1525445) | about 5 years ago | (#27499259)

As with everything in today's struggling economy prices are on the rise. It is costing more $$$ to buy anything these days. I am just wondering when we are gonna get big $$$ raises to cover the rising cost of everything??? PRESIDENT OBAMA WHERE IS OUR BAILOUT?????
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