Variable iTunes Pricing to Take Effect On April 7

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Way back in January, at Macworld 2009 (the last Apple Macworld, remember?), Apple announced a change in the pricing structure for iTunes songs.

The new model, which basically seems to have been a concession to music publishers in order to secure DRM-free tracks, prices individual songs at 69 cents, 99 cents, and $1.29. Currently, all iTunes tracks cost 99 cents. No specific implementation date was cited at the time, but a new report from the L.A. Times indicates that the changes will come April 7.

Not everyone in the industry is thrilled with the new pricing scheme. According to the L.A. Times article, former EMI Executive Tim Cohen is quoted as saying that, “This will be a PR nightmare. It is for the music industry what the AIG bonuses are for the insurance industry.” Charging those who don’t pirate music more, when piracy is more widespread then ever, admittedly doesn’t seem like the way to go about curbing the trend.

Details of how songs would be priced also emerged in the report. It will not be determined based on the age of releases, as some had previously suggested. Instead, price will be determined based on artist popularity. That means that Flo Rida fans will have to shell out more, while people like me who listen to music no one else has ever heard of or cares about might wind up actually benefiting from the deal.

If I was a diehard Ciara or All-American Rejects fan, I’d think about getting my download on now while the old pricing structure is still intact. Of course, if customers are sufficiently scared off by the new price scheme, the music industry might be forced to go back to the tried and true 99-cents method. Not that they’ll go quietly, mind you.

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