iTunes Updates: DRM-Free, New Pricing, and Availability On Cellular Networks

Apple announced today that it’s bringing some major changes to the iTunes Music Store. Most notable among the announcements is their shift to making its entire 10M-plus song library completely DRM-free.

Prior to today, Apple’s iTunes Plus selection was fairly slim. Now, all songs from the four major labels, as well as the plethora of independent labels, will be available by default as DRM-free iTunes Plus downloads. Previously purchased songs can be upgraded via iTunes’ “Upgrade My Library” option in the Music Store at 30 cents each, music videos for 60 cents, and entire albums for 30 percent of the original price (roughly $3 if it was purchased at $9.99). According to Apple, 8M songs are available in the iTunes Plus format now, with the remaining 2M-plus tracks to be converted by the year’s end.

With this upgade, also comes an eventual update to the pricing scheme to offer the the major labels “more flexibility.” Starting in April, songs will be available for either 69 cents, 99 cents, or $1.29. There was no clear indication on what would affect the prices, but during the keynote, Phil Schiller said that “most” songs would be available at the lowest tier. Apple stated that, despite the change in per-track pricing, most albums would remain at $9.99.

Lastly, Apple announced that the iTunes Music Store for the iPhone would be freed from its Wi-Fi chains. Previoulsy, accessing the store via a cellular data connection limited you to the Podcast section, however, as of today, the entire music store will be in your hands. As before, the prices on the iPhone will be the same as they are on your computer and all tracks purchased via the iPhone will be syncable back to your main iTunes library. Looks like there may have been some justification for the apparent cellular data outages AT&T experienced this morning on the East coast.

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