October 17, 2007, 12:00 AM

Apple cuts the price of DRM-free music

Apple iTunes is singing a new tune about DRM-free music pricing. Apple has lowered the price of iTunes Plus, which features more than two million tracks subscribers can download without anti-piracy software, to 99 cents per track from $1.29.

It didn’t take long for Apple Inc. to match Amazon’s aggressive pricing for DRM-free digital music.

Apple, No. 15 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has lowered the price of iTunes Plus, which features more than two million tracks subscribers can download without anti-piracy software, to 99 cents per track from $1.29.

Apple says iTunes Plus is now the largest DRM-free catalog and includes artists from Sub Pop, Nettwerk, Beggars Group, IODA, The Orchard and The EMI Group’s digital catalog. “ITunes Plus has been incredibly popular with our customers and now we’re making it available at an even more affordable price,” says iTunes vice president Eddy Cue. “We’re adding over two million tracks from key independent labels and look forward to even more labels and artists making their music available on iTunes Plus.”

With the expansion of iTunes Plus, customers now can download tracks from a variety of labels without limitations on the type of music player or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on, Apple says. ITunes Plus songs purchased from the iTunes Store will play on all iPods, iPhone, Windows or Macintosh computers, widescreen TVs with Apple TV and other digital music players.

The iTunes’ price cut comes just weeks after an announcement that Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, was launching its own music store.

Amazon, after testing the new music site privately, is now making it available to the public at AmazonMP3.com, where shoppers can download from a selection of more than two million songs as well as order from a stock of more than one million physical CDs. The digital selection pulls from more than 180,000 artists represented by more than 20,000 major and independent labels offering songs free of digital rights management restrictions, or DRM, which limit the amount of time consumers have access to digital music. Most digital songs on Amazon MP3 are priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with more than one million of the two million songs priced at 89 cents, Amazon says.

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