Apple Completes iTunes Plus Upgrade, Introduces Variable Pricing

Rob Williams

Staff member
From our front-page news:
Last week, we talked about a rumor that said iTunes would be moving over to their variable pricing scheme on April 7, and lo and behold, it has happened. This would be about a week behind their original schedule (they originally said "by the end of March", but you can at least now be confident that everything available through the store is available as an iTunes Plus track, meaning 256Kbit/s bitrates and no DRM.

As I've mentioned in the past, I've been a rather heavy iTunes user since the company decided to start offering DRM-free music, and so I've been stalking some of the changes as they've been happening, and some things I've seen happen are not pleasing. In the earlier days of purchasing music on iTunes, I accidentally bought a couple tracks that were not iTunes plus... about 10 total. As it stands today, I still have three DRM infected tracks, and not one of them are available any longer.

So, it looks like I somehow got ripped-off there. In addition, those tracks aren't the only ones mysteriously missing from the store, as over the past few months, I've kept a list of songs available on the service that I wanted to purchase once they went DRM-free, and rather than be DRM-free, they're not available at all! Not good. But that all aside, the variable pricing is what most people are going to care about, and as it stands today, 30% of the top 100 tracks are $1.29 (Canadian version). The kicker? The same tracks are still available on's music store for $0.99. Nice.

April 07 6:22PM PST Edit: It looks like Amazon has followed suit, as some tracks are now priced at $1.29. In their top list though, many songs are actually lower than $0.99, so it might very well work out to the consumer's favor in the end. At least we can hope...

As promised, variable pricing has now been implemented at the iTunes music store. Already, we're seeing most of the top 10 singles and 33 of the top 100 hitting the top price-point of $1.29 (encoded as DRM-free 256kbps AAC). Interesting as Amazon's uncomfortably similar top 10 list has all these tracks priced at $0.99 (encoded as DRM-free 256kbps VBR MP3). A handful of tracks (nine in the top 100) do hit the higher $1.29 price further down Amazon's list.

Source: Engadget
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