iTunes Starts Variable Pricing, Yahoo! Announces New Music Site

As Rock Daily reported earlier this year, iTunes price changes went into affect today, April 7th, on the digital music service. Whereas all songs used to carry a 99¢ fee, the new arrangement allows record companies to choose whether they want to price the song at $1.29, 99¢ or even 69¢. The price change is most prevalent on songs in the Top 100 charts. Of those songs, 38 of them now carry a $1.29 charge, including the Top Three, the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow," Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and Flo Rida's "Right Round." However, the fourth and fifth song on the chart, Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" and Kid Cudi's "Day 'n' Night," currently retain their 99¢ charge.

However, with the 30¢ increase comes the abolition of the MP3s' DRM, or digital rights management, technology. As part of Apple's deal with the record labels, iTunes is in the process of making its entire library DRM-free, much like the Amazon MP3 Store. Outside of the Top Songs, it seems like the pricing of an artist's catalog is being done almost at random. Take for instance, Alice In Chains: The band's entire iTunes catalog is priced at 99¢ except "Man In the Box," which is priced at $1.29. It's not just one anomaly, however. "Man in the Box" shows up three times on iTunes, on Facelift and two Best-Of comps, and all three times its priced at $1.29. A search to find songs priced at 69¢ has thus far produced no results.

In other digital news, Yahoo! Music is refurbishing their site to become almost an aggregate or middleman for users to find music via free or paid services. According to Reuters, "Yahoo has struck commercial relationships with digital music retailers like Apple Inc's, collecting a fee for every referral." Yahoo's own digital music service shut down last year. "We really want to focus on providing the service that's most valuable to users, and then partner with third parties to provide the entire set of music services," said Yahoo Music General Manager Michael Spiegelman.

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