iTunes, Amazon, Wal-Mart Pricing Music Variably

On Tuesday, Apple introduced variable pricing to the iTunes Store. While this was news in itself, it seems the rest of the industry is following suit.

Apple announced at Macworld that it would remove DRM from all of its songs. The idea of the tiered pricing is, of course, to make more money. By capitalizing on more popular songs and charging less for the songs that weren’t really selling anymore Apple has upped the revenue and still makes a penny here and there on the older tunes.

That said, the problem with said pricing is that in a recession, increasing the price of anything drives the average consumer nuts. That in mind, we figured Amazon and other iTunes competitors would be sitting pretty, safe in the knowledge that the most popular music store was upping its prices, driving a little more business their way. Not everyone was willing to pay $1.29 for the latest tune, right?

Unfortunately this is not the case. It seems Amazon, Wal-Mart, Rhapsody and Lala have all followed suit, raising the prices of their music so that they’re closer to Apple’s. On the one hand we can understand their thinking, if Apple can do it, so can we. On the other hand, it seems silly to pass up the chance to be the known as the cheapest.

Amazon has jumped on the variable pricing bandwagon with some newer tracks costing $1.29, others costing 99c and some even cheaper at 89c. Lala has also changed its tune (look pa, I made a funny) explaining in a company blog post that the raised prices were an ‘industry shift.’

What do you guys make of the price changes? I’m happier to purchase the albums in their entirety to save money, as I’ve always done but will this make a difference in your decision when purchasing music? Or is this just one of those price increases that’s implemented as the years go by like the cost of bread, milk or a newspaper?

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