Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) to Lower Price On DRM-free Tracks; Indie Labels Included: Report: Now that iTunes has competition with last month’s launch of Amazon’s (NSDQ: AMZN) DRM-free MP3 download store, Apple is lowering the price of its non-copy protected songs from $1.29 apiece to 99 cents, the same amount it costs for a song without copy protection, Ars Technica reports. The announcement could come as early as Wednesday. After securing an agreement with EMI, Apple began selling DRM-free tracks for $1.29 apiece at the end of May (prices for Amazon’s individual MP3’s range from 89- to 99 cents). Apart from the price cut, iTunes also plans to expand its DRM-free program beyond EMI to include a number of unspecified independent music labels. Update: An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the price drop to AP in Apple-speak — the move is not because of competition, but popularity: “It’s been very popular with our customers and we’re now making it available at an even more affordable price.”
Napster (NSDQ: NAPS) Unveils Web-based Platform: The music subscription service is relaunching with Napster 4.0, a web-based service that lets users listen to their music on any internet-connected computer without downloading additional software. The music service, which costs between $10 and $15 per month, has about 5 million songs available. As Reuters reports, the hopes that one, social nets will integrate the service into their sites; and two, that 2008 will be the year that DRM-free music becomes widely accepted by record labels and make joining a music subscription service less onerous. More details in the release.
Illegal Downloads Still Preferred By Some Radiohead Listeners: Despite letting music fans name their own price for its latest album, Radiohead is finding that some still like downloading their songs illegally, according to Forbes. On the same day that Radiohead’s In Rainbows became available, about 240,000 users downloaded the album from illicit P2P BitTorrent sites, Forbes said, citing Big Champagne, a LA-based tracker of online copyright violators. After that the album was downloaded roughly 100,000 more times daily, totaling 500,000 unauthorized downloads. And while that’s still less than the 1.2 million authorized album downloads tallied by Gigwise.com, Big Champaign expects the illegals to outpace legals. So far, the average price users are paying for In Rainbows on Radiohead’s site has been in the $5- to $8 range, according to Wired.