iTunes Store shifts song prices, many $1.29, few $0.69 tracks [updated]

As expected, Apple today changed the pricing scheme for individual songs sold through the iTunes Store, with some tracks increasing in price to $1.29, and others dropping in price to $0.69. This change comes in conjunction with the store making a move to an almost completely DRM-free catalog of iTunes Plus offerings; some DRM-locked music files—including some music videos—still remain in the Store, while others have disappeared entirely.

Though both Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Vice-President Phil Schiller claimed in January that “more songs are going to be offered at $0.69 than at $1.29,” there is very little evidence of $0.69 pricing in the iTunes Store, with a considerable number of $1.29 tracks now on offer. As of press time, the pricing changes have resulted in half of the top ten and 29 of the top 100 overall song downloads increasing in price to $1.29. Additionally, individual genres’ top 100 lists ranged from 46 $1.29 songs in the Hip-Hop/Rap top 100 list, 31 of the top R&B/Soul 100, 30 of the top 100 Pop songs, 28 of 100 Rock, and 26 of 100 Country, to none at all in Children’s Music, Christian & Gospel, Electronic, Singer/Songwriter, or World Music. Notably, prices have been raised on a number of older tracks, such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters, and “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65, while the entirety of the New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, and Vanilla Ice catalogs remain available for $0.99 rather than offering discounts.

Update: Continued fluctuations in song pricing are leading to unusual changes in both the top 100’s price lists and the pricing for individual songs. In re-checking the Store’s lists over the course of an hour, we noticed that the number of $1.29 songs in the top 100 had increased from 29 to 46, and then on a refresh, dropped back to 29, then gone up to 33. While some of the changes are attributable to different songs appearing and disappearing on the list, we discovered tracks such as Bad Girlfriend from Theory of a Deadman that are shifting back and forth from $0.99 to $1.29, sometimes appearing in iTunes as one price or the other. Clicking on the track reveals a notice that the top 100’s $0.99 pricing is inaccurate, and has been replaced by a higher $1.29 price. It remains to be seen how many tracks will see quiet price changes on a day-to-day or more frequent basis under the new song pricing structure.

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