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Report: iTunes to offer DRM-free, flexible pricing

updated 09:10 pm EST, Mon January 5, 2009

iTunes flexible pricing

Apple has allegedly backed away from its strict pricing policies for iTunes songs, although the same negotiations could also mean that music from the big three labels could soon be DRM-free, according to CNET News. A source suggests that the tracks will fall into three pricing categories, including a higher-priced level for hit songs, which many media companies have pushed for. The shift could lead to higher profits for sales of popular singles.

DRM-free music is not new to the iTunes catalog, although the unprotected titles only account for a fraction of the overall content. Sony BMG, Universal and Warner Music have allegedly reversed from a refusal to step away from DRM, and have also agreed to allow songs to be sent over wireless networks to devices such as the iPhone.

The source suggests that Apple may announce more details at Macworld on Tuesday. The changes could affect current titles in addition to new music.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Ted L. Nancy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If this is true

    then the question is: What happens to the millions (billions?) of songs that were purchased and downloaded with DRM? Do they get unlocked now?

  1. jasong

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Works for me

    "hit music" is c*** and holds no interest for me. Lower the prices on the old stuff that I want.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    death of iTunes

    This will be a good way to get kids off iTunes, and back onto BitTorrent. Kids (which are the most internet aware, and tend to have more limited incomes, particularly now), won't be in the mood for a price increase (as they tend to buy the more popular, current songs).

    And some tool on another web site said he would just go to Amazon if prices on iTunes increased. What he's forgetting, Amazon is only cheaper because the labels wanted to break iTunes (and fixed $1 pricing). If Apple gives in, the next day you can bet Amazon's prices will match Apple's new higher prices.

  1. B9bot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Higher prices could make

    Higher prices could make people turn to P2P again, something Steve Jobs didn't want which was why he set the prices the way he did. GREEDY Record labels will kill sales if they keep driving up the prices. They still DON"T GET IT!

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Long time coming

    I can't and won't claim to be any kind of DRM expert or to be privileged to any of Apple's stratagems, but I think Apple has been working toward this for awhile. It seems a lot of people just flat out blame Apple for having DRM copy right protection and/or for not licensing this out to competing hardware manufacturers (which Apple actually responded to). Apple did not invent nor did it create the first MP3 player, far from it, and Apple did not invest digital music. In fact two very marketable digital players were being sold when the iPod came out and there were plenty of music jukebox software titles to choose from. What Apple did do however was legitimize digital music sales and slowly transformed the way music is sold. This is where people seem to miss the boat on Apple's and more so Steve Job's critical role in what everyone is now doing, selling instant music over the interest which is legally bought. It was SJ that convince the major music labels to sell digital versions of their music, but the music industry was already wary of pirating music, hence the DRM that become some well known at Apple. As the old Vulcan proverb says, " Only Nixon could go to China". Apple stood fast with it's 0.99 cents per song and that was the right move to keep the momentum going for digital music sales - it's now pretty much the standard and it's here to stay. Now, if the article is true, Apple, the largest by far distributer of digital music, is going to give in and allow the sale of digital music to be sold at prices other than the 0.99 cent/track price and in exchange, Apple can finally offer DRM free music. Who really won here? The Labels or Apple? Me thinks it was us.

    As far as content already purchased, who knows, I currently have no intention of playing my music on anything other than an iPod/iPhone. Does anyone know if it's possible for Apple to simply release an iTunes update that simply strips away the DRM? Well, I guess we'll see what's what tomorrow.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    existing content

    Well, there's two options. Either no update allowed, or 30 cents a song, like when they went to iTunes plus in the first place.

    Of course, you could just burn all your music to CDs and then re-rip them. Its really easy (according to those who claim Apple's iTunes music store isn't a monopoly or a vertical market, at least).

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Not the RIAA (OK, they are fools) but those bemoaning this. You all claim to want the RIAA to go away. Well, what better way than to have them make bad business decision after bad business decision?

    And this won't kill iTunes. It might drive some away, but most of those "kids" aren't paying for the songs anyway, mom and dad are.

    And you can just wait until the price goes down. Or not buy. Just like with the latest version of Toast.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I like DRM Free music, and will look for it first. But I just purchased Folie A deux (popular music that happens to be good, but I don't want to debate this). Apple did not offer it DRM free, but offered a video of I don't care. Amazon offered it for $1 less, but no video...

    I took the bonus video and Apple. The quality seems to be a little bit better, but that can be subjective,

    A little bit more for higher quality DRM free music is okay. Generally, holding prices as long as they have is pretty good.

  1. apple4ever

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "The shift could lead to higher profits for sales of popular singles."

    Or lower profits as people get pissed at paying $1.29 for songs they used to get for .99, or .89 at amazon. Now will get it free.

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