Apple passes 6 billion songs sold milestone, changes iTune on pricing

“Apple Inc. unveiled significant pricing and copyright changes to its iTunes Store, moves by the dominant online music seller that could spur similar action across the industry,” Ethan Smith and Yukari iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The changes, announced at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco Tuesday, include a new three-tiered pricing plan for songs [$0.69, $0.99, $1.29), instead of the 99-cents fixed price Apple has used almost exclusively. Apple also said it will drop copy protection from all of the songs in its digital store,” Smith and Kane report.

“Some of Apple’s moves appear to be a response in part to shifts in the digital-music market. Growth in paid downloads slowed significantly in 2008, rising 27%, compared with a 45% increase a year earlier, according to Nielsen Co.’s SoundScan service,” Smith and Kane report.

“The moves by Apple could prompt others in the online music industry to also explore new ways to sell music. Apple last year surpassed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the world’s largest music retailer. Digital-music retailers in the U.S. sold more than one billion songs in 2008. Apple said it has sold six billion songs since the iTunes Store launched in 2003,” Smith and Kane report.

“Apple’s DRM has made it complicated for iTunes customers to use competitors’ products, like SanDisk Corp. music players or Microsoft Corp.’s Zune. Among the limits imposed by the software locks, it is difficult or impossible to play songs purchased from the iTunes Store on devices other than the iPod or iPhone,” Smith and Kane report.

MacDailyNews Take: Sheesh. Once again, iTunes Store songs play on iTunes for Windows; meaning all Windows PCs, including laptops. And, they also play on Motorola’s ROKR phone, for that matter. In addition, iTunes music tracks have always been burnable to CD, thereby removing Apple’s FairPlay DRM. Such CDs can then be reimported for use in any other device that accepted files imported from standard music CDs. Furthermore, iTunes Store music tracks have always been playable on multiple computers. Finally, since April 2007, Apple has been selling DRM-free music (from EMI).

Smith and Kane continue without any further errors in their full article here.

13 Comments

  1. Hacks.
    They probably have no knowledge the music industry has been prompting Apple for multi-tier pricing since forever.
    I am sooooo glad I don’t listen to the radio, 9/10 of that crap will probably increase in price, but unfortunately, so will older ‘good music’ possibly. The only solution now, is to buy older classics on cd or iTunes compilations, where I get 20 great songs for $20.

    oh yeah —
    ‘First’

  2. Until the Music Industry says enough is a enough and forces a Lossless Audio format as the delivered product sales will suffer. I know lots of people that will not Digital Audio Downloads until the Files are a lossless format.

    I’d even pay an extra $2 or $3 per album download for a lossless format copy.
    It would be nice to buy a lossless format album get the album as a zip download from iTunes with a high res. copy of the album art, and a PDF of the liner notes.

    Currently all digital downloads are second rate at best and most are a poor joke of a copy

  3. Demon…

    I won’t download anything but Lossless, therefore, I’ve downloaded very little.

    For that extra $2 to $3 above the current download price, you buy the CD, get album art and an archival copy, then rip it in Lossless.

    So, why throw money away on downloads?

    Ooops, forgot… pop music is 90% trash, so for the price of an album, you get one (two if you’re lucky) songs you may like and listen to. The rest is throw away.

    Blame poor pop “artists” for that.

    • I use the term “pop music” in the widest possible sense… the way “classical” or “world music” are used.

  4. Give me a break. How many people can really actually hear any actual degradation in quality? Flaws in music are not as apparent as digital artifacting in video.

    I’m not trying to debate you – but your argument is fully of hooey for what – oh say 97 – 99% of the music listening to public.

    This argument is as dull as the vinyl lovers and tube amp loves who talk about the warmth of their music and amplifiers.

  5. iTunes + is a pretty good sound, making any major differences difficult to detect.

    CD sound itself is not that great. If you compare (for example) Taverner’s Resurrection CD/DVD recordings, the DVD is sooo much better, making the CD really only fit for the bin.

    Valved amps for iPod do give a truly smoother and warmer sound, at least to my ears.

  6. I must vociferously concur with “@Demon and Muffin”!

    Only dogs and oscilloscopes can tell the difference between songs encoded at, say, 256 kbps and “lossless.” If you’re over the age of 25 and a seasoned audiophile, you’re never EVER going to hear the difference again, and that’s a fact. Ask any audiologist.

    Snobbery and a “holier than thou” mentality are the primary foundations under demands for lossless encoding. Period.

  7. As much as you all love lossless there is something that you have to remember. CDs are not very good either, they do not record the music exactly, they like mp3 or ACC etc sample the input they are given. If you care about lossless music so much why don’t you harass Sony to get Super Audio CD going again or some other higher bitrate technology. CD is not lossless, 256Kbs is not lossless, but seeing that your going to have rip it to ACC anyway, why not save yourself the petrol and effort.

    For those audiophiles that really want “lossless” audio, why don’t you save up the money you would have spent on CDs and go and see some bands live, since that is the only way you will actually be able to listen to lossless audio, as any recording is inherently lossy.

  8. The facts about codecs and bit-rates are that *no-one* has ever been reliably and reproducibly been able to detect the difference between CD quality and any codec over 256 kb. The vast majority of people can’t tell the difference between CD quality and 128 kb. the majority of files floating around on the Internet are 96 kb.

    As for the codecs, AAC is a much higher quality sound reproduction than MP3 at the same bit-rate.

    All these things are true even on the very best sound equipment, on the average PMP, the issues are far *less* relevant.

    The thing that bugs me about the new DRM-free iTunes is more practical than any of this junk. At least in the Canadian store, Apple has already removed the iTunes Plus link, but none of the tracks have changed. Also, if all music will be free of DRM, does that mean all music will be changed to “iTunes Plus?”

    I mean, I want to start buying stuff yesterday. So far there is no word on what to look for, what bit rate the new tracks will be at or anything. How will we even know when they change a track over? Typically Apple has given us no info at all.

  9. Do you get a feeling sometimes, MDN enjoys its day job a bit gleefully too much. ROKR phone, oh c’mon! It’s like a double entendre of sarcasm.
    Makes you glad MDN is on this side of the fence for the moment.

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