Apple’s iTunes Store goes DRM-free and 3G via iPhone; variable pricing coming soon

Apple today announced several changes to the iTunes Store. Beginning today, all four major music labels—Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels, are now offering their music in iTunes Plus, Apple’s DRM-free format with higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding. iTunes customers can also choose to download their favorite songs from the world’s largest music catalog directly onto their iPhone 3G over their 3G network just as they do with Wi-Fi today, for the same price as downloading to their computer. And beginning in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, with most albums still priced at $9.99.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer our iTunes customers DRM-free iTunes Plus songs in high quality audio and our iPhone 3G customers the ability to download music from iTunes anytime, anywhere over their 3G network at the same price as downloading to your computer or via Wi-Fi,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, in the press release. “And in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points—69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29—with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29.”

iTunes offers customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of previously purchased songs to the higher quality DRM-free iTunes Plus format for just 30 cents per song or 30 percent of the album price. The iTunes Store will begin offering eight million of its 10 million songs in Apple’s DRM-free format, iTunes Plus, today with the remaining two million songs offered in iTunes Plus by the end of March.

iPhone 3G users can now preview and purchase the entire iTunes Store music catalog on their iPhone 3G over their 3G network, just as they do with Wi-Fi today, for the same price and in the same high quality format. Songs purchased on an iPhone will automatically sync to a user’s computer the next time they sync their iPhone.

The iTunes Store is the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store with a catalog of over 10 million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films including over 600 in stunning high definition video. With Apple’s legendary ease of use, pioneering features such as iTunes Movie Rentals, integrated podcasting support, the ability to turn previously purchased tracks into complete albums at a reduced price, and seamless integration with iPod and iPhone, the iTunes Store is the best way for Mac and PC users to legally discover, purchase and download music and video online.

Source: Apple Inc.


  1. @R2

    So sad, though it is nice that Apple was able to limit the max to $1.29, hopefully the labels won’t abuse and Apple will have some power to limit the number of songs they have at that higher price (only singles/albums in the top 100 billboards are allowed? something like that I could see).

    I also hope that Apple keeps the consumer well aware where the higher price is coming from (note in the press release that it’s “based on what the music labels charge”, hopefully they will keep such language visible so the consumer knows that when they are paying a higher price, it isn’t Apple’s, it’s the music cartels price.

  2. A song for 129c isn’t unreasonable, but the idea of paying a bunch of no-talent music executives who rape their artists and sue 13 year old girls, single moms, grandmothers, and dead people leaves a decidedly bad taste in my mouth.

    The idea that these bozos got what they want without any real concessions on their part really frosts me.

    Are we at least going to see ALL tracks in every album available at this new price? Or are we still stuck with “album only” tracks and other BS just at a higher price?

  3. Good songs: $1.29 or Album Only
    Recently released album: $14.99 (I bet)
    Fillers: $0.69

    This sucks, music cartels took advantage of Steve’s condition.
    What a sad day for consumers.

  4. @MrScrith,

    Who’s to say $1.29 is the limit? What happens when Apple has another new product in the future that requires extra iTunes music/movie functionality and gets taken back to the negotiating table? The labels might decide $1.29 wasn’t enough and $1.50 or $1.99 is more to their satisfaction.

  5. ““We are thrilled to be able to offer our iTunes customers DRM-free iTunes Plus songs …”

    Just because software based DRM isn’t included in the music file doesn’t mean DRM is gone. IE: Does it mean I’ll be able to add a photo to my iPhone from my wife’s Mac *without* having it threaten to erase all my media? Will they allow unrestricted sharing media to any (unauthorized) computer? Somehow I doubt that, which means Apple’s DRM scheme is still alive and well … it’s simply implemented at the hardware level.

  6. Important point everyone seems to overlook: Inflation.

    99c when the iTunes store was opened is $1.17 today. This is barely a price raise at all.

    Plus, it was my understanding that the prices aren’t set at the record companies’ whim. Rather, new songs are added at $1.29, then as they age are automatically reduced to 99c and 69c.

    This is very much a concession on the part of the record companies. I’m sure they would have preferred to keep DRM, and to be able to set the price to whatever the hell they want!

    I mean, c’mon folks! Did you really expect to see sub-$1 iTunes singles until the end of time? Prices go up. It’s the way things work.


  7. @Brau
    What the hell are you talking about? iTunesPlus songs are .m4a files. They’ll play in any application or device that reads that format.

    (Now, I am curious if the files are watermarked to track piracy…)


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