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.

23 Comments

  1. 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.

    ——RM

  2. @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…)

    ——RM

  3. To all those that believe Apple won this one I say: morons, all. To those that see Apple not only acquiescing to the labels but actually taking the lead in doing their bidding you are spot on. Today Apple became a shill for the music labels. Yeah, I know – ‘but, but, but, they gained freedom from DRM’ – what a load. You could already buy DRM-free from Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, etc. The labels gave up ZERO on this deal. Yes, AAC is better than MP3. No, Apple doesn’t need iTunes (although I’m sure by now they’d really HATE to lose it) but the fact remains, Apple lost to the execs on this one.

  4. it is not worth 30 cents each to strip DRM from my songs…I bet the bill for my library is $300-600

    .I listen on my computer or thru my ipod when hooked to my car, earphones and stereo…Can burn to CD if needed…..what’s the point of stripping DRM? Its not as if I am going to buy a zune or something

    only on my stereo is quality a factor and I have ears much older than 20 years old, so there really isn’t a point there either

  5. They should do what gas companies do here–thanks to the outrageous gas prices in the summer, there are stickers on pumps that break down the cost of gas–how much their suppliers charge them, how much is gas tax, and finally how much they actually make.

    I’d LOVE to see something like this in the iTunes store, especially if it can be done for each song. The public would see, firsthand, how much the labels are gouging not just the buyer, but the artist too.

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