Looking For The $0.69 Songs On iTunes

from the gotta-dig dept

Last month, we pointed out that some of the music industry folks who actually “get it” were getting worried that when iTunes launched its variable pricing offering, labels would focus much more on jacking up prices to $1.29, rather than finding songs to offer at $0.69. Aaron Martin-Colby points out that this appears to have been quite an accurate fear. Gizmodo went looking for $0.69 songs and had a lot of trouble finding any. $1.29 songs, however, were quite easy to find. Once again, looks like the record labels are more focused on squeezing fans rather than giving them a real reason to buy.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Looking For The $0.69 Songs On iTunes”

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R. Miles says:

no subject

When this was first proposed, even I said this! It’s another excuse to make people pay for “piracy” all the while crying about decreasing CD sales.

Consumers deserve the rate increase for having to support the distribution model to begin with.

At $1.30 per song, I will even bet more people are turning to finding $0.00 alternatives, now that 4 songs equates to the loss of a 5th.

Weird Harold, chime in here. I’m sure you’ll be more than happy to defend why the recording industry and Apple took away the $0.69 offerings.

Hey, did this guy find any “free” songs?

lulz says:


then don’t buy from iTunes. Why do people pay (or don’t pay) to download lackluster quality mp3’s when you can get the CD, which includes the album artwork, and rip it in any quality you want? Storage space is getting cheaper. People can have a large library of lossless media and get a 60gb iPod to put it on. but, i guess that not everyone is an audiophile.

Arthur says:

Re: Re: Well...

The industry seems a little frisky now. It’s like taking the kids to see Grandpa without knowing ahead of time that Granny gave him a 24-hour Cialas.

Brings new meaning to the words “Hi Grandpa, wanna see my big iPod?”

Perhaps Apple’s days are numbered. Sheesh. Makes me wanna pull down the Android SDK just to remind myself of what innovation looks like.

Ariel (profile) says:

Re: Well...

Because not all of us want to have 5 million CDs cluttering up their homes, for no audio gain.

I’m sorry, but iTunes’ AAC format, and even MP3 have *no noticeable* loss of quality over CDs. Get over it and stop imagining “quality” when there isn’t any.

Also… I refuse to buy an entire CD when there’s only one or two decent songs on it.

I’m disappointed that there are no (so far) cheaper songs on iTunes. I agree that the $1.29 might be just enough to drive people to the “free” alternatives. .99 is nothing, $1.29 starts to actually look like money :/ Perception is everything in the sales business.

However, what they *should* do is now remove the charge for making a ringtone from these “premium” priced songs. That might almost be worth the higher price… saving .70 on the ringtone.

Dan says:

Re: Re: Well...

I would disagree that increasing the pricing by 30 cents for most songs will drive people away; the biggest pricing hurdle by far is going from free to $0.01, and iTunes did that years ago. There are millions of people with their iTunes accounts all charged up or linked to their credit card that are already willing to pay a dollar a song; $1.29 per song isn’t a huge stretch from there.

Now, increasing prices by 30% is more than enough to make sure I don’t buy any more songs from iTunes, I only use my iTunes money for iPod games and apps, really. Although I do agree with you that if they sold the $1.29 songs as DRM-free and you can make free ringtones. But nooo, that would be actually adding VALUE to your product, rather than just increasing price. And companies don’t like to do that, right?

Ken says:

Re: Re: Well...


Or maybe it’s just you use crappy audio equipment.

Try using something with at least a 24bit Burr Brown DAC and you can definitely hear the difference.

Add a good set of headphones or speakers and you notice it more.

Just because you can’t hear it doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference in quality.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Well...

“I’m sorry, but iTunes’ AAC format, and even MP3 have *no noticeable* loss of quality over CDs. Get over it and stop imagining “quality” when there isn’t any.”

I am not an audiophile at all, and I can tell you this isn’t remotely true. In fact, the quality difference is quite noticeable in several situations. Music with a lot of fine detail, such as acoustic music, and music with a large frequency range tend to suffer the most. I have factory speakers in my car, and I can tell a difference between original CDs and CDs burned from MP3s. If you use a very high bitrate (320kpbs), MP3 does surpass the audio quality of my speakers, but iTunes uses (or at least used to use) 128kpbs, which is clearly inferior to CD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well...

Please shut up if you don’t listen to your audio. There’s a very noticeable difference between 128kbit mp3 and 192kbit mp3. Once my entire library was at least 192kbit, 256 and 320 became a major improvement over 192. *no noticeable* for you sounds like a personal problem. Perhaps you should invest in REAL headphones, not the apple bullshit. Or REAL speakers or monitors, not your laptop speakers.

I’m sorry, but you lost every bit of credibility by stating we’re imagining quality.

I download every single song, on the other hand.
Why? Well, aside from the major time savings of waiting for the record companies to ship me the promos of songs I may or may not like, EVERY SONG on P2P today, at least on the network I partake in, is at least ~200VBR mp3 (VBR sounds very good even at low bitrates if a good algorithm is used. I can rarely tell a difference between a good ~200kbit VBR and 320kbit CBR), but a good majority of them are 256-320kbit VBR and CBR mp3s.

itunes wants to charge me over a dollar per song for sub-p2p quality music? It’d be p2p quality if we were still living in the days of kazaa and morpheus, but the world has moved on.

wheatus (user link) says:

Re: Re: Well...

Ariel….You are oh so right unfortunately…

MP3’s suck compared to CD…this is not just an observation but a fact…it is literally impossible the harmonic integrity of sound to survive all that decimation and truncation.

CD’s are hella bad too…and if you think they are good you are deceiving yourself….

Sound is round…Bits are square…No Joy!

DSD downloads will save music.

batch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well...

Plus, I for one, get tired of seeing the label on the cd scream YOU ARE A CRIMINAL at me for having the audacity to buy it. Seriously, anyone else buy the Lonely Island’s Incredibad CD and see the two piracy warnings on it, at least as large as the text for the name of the cd? Calling your a scumbag asshole pirate? Thats why I rarely buy new music these days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well...

You, Ariel, shut the hell up why don’t you… You have no idea of how cd’s quality is superior over limewire and itunes, etc downloads… Simple mp3s do not capture the true sound to cd’s plus it’s called buying a shelf to put some cd’s on you cheap bastard. To my opinion, having the jacket and booklet of a cd is very interesting to look at and read. If you knew music better, you’d know this and you’d know that there isn’t only 2 decent songs on a cd. You probably only like to hear the ones that make the hits cd, but there is more to that. Cd’s normally have a theme to them to, which is interesting. You should pick some up, pay up the price to the cashier and listen up you scum. Cd’s are just better deuchbag.

Darren Tomlyn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Well...

I’ve met quite a lot of people in my time who’s hearing wasn’t as good as they thought it was. I mean, even though I know MY hearing is very good, I took one of those high frequency hearing tests, and it was obvious that I’m now 30 years old, and not 20 any more judging by the frequencies I couldn’t hear…

Hearing ability is extremely variable, and the amount of people who don’t fully realise how bad their hearing is, is probably going to increase for quite some time – (especially given the volume at which people listen to music these days – I personally can’t stand anything loud and bass-heavy – it gives me headaches/makes me ill 🙁 ).

I’ve had people saying that it’s impossible to hear differences between various types of audio for a while too – from high bit-rate MP3’s to WAV’s etc..

The funny thing, is that I always could – though I think my DAW was probably the main reason for that – (good sound-card/headphones (DT100’s)/monitors etc.).

One person I ran into reckoned that there wasn’t even a difference between 16 and 24-bit audio files!! :-O

Anonymous Coward says:


Right now the only reason I buy CD’s is because I can rip them to any format I please. I rip a lossless copy to my archive, and a copy at the highest bit rate mp3 for my working library. If I need a cd for the car, I burn one. If I want to refresh my mp3 player for the gym, I copy files to it (currently using my phone for this). IMO having that flexibility justifies the purchase of a CD.

just my $.02

Maclamond says:


U make no sense. You buy a CD and do all those things. Which is still possible by simply replacing the buying a cd part, with downloading the actual songs from the cd. (which I’m sure are only a few u actually ever listen to).

So u have a CD sitting around collecting dust…. and u still spent more than me…

Space Pirate (user link) says:


So, you don’t like DRM and apple charges too much (shocking!) but you think that it might be time to stop ‘pirating’ all your music of peer-to-peer services?

Amazon.com – they sell unprotected Mp3’s – I’ve never seen one that cost more than $0.99. You usually get a per song discount if you buy a whole album AND they have a whole mess of very real very free Mp3’s.

Nik (profile) says:

iTunes Blows Chunks

Last year I bought over a thousand dollars worth of aacs or whatever the hell they are from iTunes. I dutifully backed them up to my external drive. I was a GOOD BOY.

When I bought a CHAKA KHAN song that was CLEARLY torn from one of those 60 minutes of disco hell CDs, I let them know. They told me it was the original. I wrote back, it is not. The real version is from this album, from 1979..just listen. It certainly ran longer than 1:57.

I was told it was the original version. They credited me .99 and told me to shut up. Well, they didn’t really tell me to shut up.

Then my external drive had “issues”. I lost about 20% of my music. I told iTunes. They all had a good laugh I bet, but I figured, why not ask. It can’t hurt. They provided me an URL regarding redownloading music. Essentially GFY. I understood their policies, but I took a shot.

No fkg way am I going to spend that much again to replace everything. I am a BAD BOY now. I do not feel any guilt getting an album for .98 from um, another store.

eMusic, which I also belong to, lets you re-download your songs as long as you are a subscriber. For some reason, eMusic thinks that those downloads are mine, even after I screw up and lose some of them, or get a new computer.

The RIAA and iTunes can SMA, especially with their invisible price tiering.

I remember when compact discs came out and you could not find one for less than $17.99. Remember when they came in those long boxes so people couldn’t steal them? Yep, $17.99 for a disk that cost them 4 cents to manufacture. These days the Big 4 Record Companies don’t have anyone to screw anymore, at least en masse – that’s why they are so cranky.

Just my 2 cents.

Aaron Martin-Colby (profile) says:

More stuff

@ Ken: I agree. On my Denon desktop system, I notice a pretty big difference between FLAC and 320kb MP3’s.

I’m also able to notice a difference between FLAC and 96/24, but it’s primarily in the high-freq range and very small. And this is on a relatively cheap desktop system, only $700.

I have some more fun information about this, apparently it took the free market LESS THAN FIVE HOURS to develop a tool to cross shop Amazon and iTunes. See this link:


So, Dan, I think you’re incorrect. If simple tools are made, this could in fact have a serious impact on iTunes’ sales.

I also find this funny since Steve Jobs himself, when supporting this new pricing model in January, said

“in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points-69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29-with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29.”

Oh yeah. That prediction proved accurate.

PRMan (profile) says:

Amazon MP3s

Amazon MP3s come at 256Kbps. Even the guys that hang out on the Hydrogen Audio forums spending all their time tweaking the LAME.dll codec, CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE ON ANYTHING between 256 and CD.

Like some other posters said, it’s all about value. If I like most of an album and find it cheap at Second Spin or something, I buy it that way (no way I’m paying $18 for 12 songs). If the album (or a “best of” EP) has a good discount on Amazon, I might buy that. Otherwise, I just buy individual tracks.

I then burn everything to CD immediately and put the physical disk in my CD storage rack just in case. I also back up all my songs regularly to another computer. Am I worried that I might lose something if I had to actually re-rip the songs from the CD? A little, but not when I am paying .50 a song instead of 1.50, because then I could re-buy a single album if it sounded too bad (but it won’t).

hegemon13 says:

Re: Amazon MP3s

Glad you are the authority on what other people can hear. I no longer have to trust my own ears. What a relief.

MP3s are inconsistent, and they are dependent on the encoder. With a good rip at 320kpbs, I personally can’t tell the difference between MP3 and CD, but I have crappy equipment and even crappier hearing. Bit rate does not tell the whole story, however, as I have heard 320-kpbs bitrate rips that have very noticeable artifacts and/or distortion. I don’t really know how anyone can screw a rip up that bad, but they do.

There is another issue, as well: transcoding. If I want to change formats for some reason, going from one lossy codec to another degrades quality very quickly. CDs offer the ability to archive a lossless source from which any format can be ripped without transcoding degradation. FLAC downloads offer the same thing, but I don’t know of any store that offers them. I am an album listener, not a single listener (I generally never use shuffle mode), so the extra cost of buying a full album does not bother me.

Anonymous Coward says:

News Flash

These days the Big 4 Record Companies don’t have anyone to screw anymore, at least en masse – that’s why they are so cranky.

Yeah, it used to be making something good and bringing it to market was fulfillment enough.

All the record companies can live in their 60s and 70s bubble. It’s intentionally complex, because it isn’t about market-based economics. It’s about control. Hell, all the companies aren’t even publically traded. Legally speaking, they are structured as subsidiaries, LPs or LLPs under the parent company.

This is interesting because it shields them from the SEC, regulatory, and public scrutiny a publicly traded company would require. Transparency is not required, and they don’t even have to produce a balance sheet, yet they all get together and want to overtake our intellectual property system.

Something isn’t right here.

Ron (profile) says:

And yet ...

… I saw three articles this morning saying that there are more $.69 than $1.29 songs on iTunes (OK, somebody finds that 50%+1 are less than $1.29 and another person can’t find more than 2 out of 100K items??). There will come a point where the cost of these things will exceed the willingness of the public to pay for them and then the public will look for other sources. Then, the music publishers will once again bitch until iTunes creates a higher price tier so that they can charge more to make up for the lost sales because people went elsewhere to get music when iTunes was too expensive.

Travis D says:

Re: And yet ...

Basically, they want to introduce a variable to the equation, and slowly inflate all the catalogs to a $1.30 pricepoint.

They will come up with absurd reasons, based on false logic and incorrect data. But they get more cash out of it.

By artificially controlling the puppet strings, it can have the ability to make DRM-backed all-you-can-eat wartermarked music idea more acceptable to the public.

Then they will re-introduce the Zune/PlaysForSure/ZunePhone or whatever they decide to call it the 3rd time around..

This is merely a page from the Microsoft wedge-into-a-market-handbook. It has been played many times, even got them in a little trouble with the DOJ a few years back.

Can you believe Eliott Spitzer started that whole United States of America. VS Microsoft case as NY AG years ago?

Michael Edward (user link) says:

more evidence of major label incompetence

The business model of $20 CD sales is not coming back.

MP3 downloads cannot replace this revenue stream. Never will. Variable pricing is stupid and is simply a stop gap.

I use the money I used to spend on CDs to see more concerts and interesting new bands. Hopefully my money is going to the artists.

But more and more artists are being conned or coerced into signing 360 deals (i.e. label gets more tour and merch revenue). The good artists are starting to wake up and are dropping their lazy and exploitive labels.

Don’t nickel and dime your fans. Respect them and enrich their lives with quality music.

Michael Edward

PaulT (profile) says:

Other services...

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you care about music that’s not pushed by major labels (and why not give it a try if not?), you can’t go too far wrong with independent services like eMusic and AmieStreet. Both have unique pricing models where tracks vary from being free (all new additions to AmieStreet and a free daily download / occasionally free albums on eMusic) to being cheap (maximum of around 50c/track on an eMusic sub, 98c on AmieStreet).

For major label content, they need to stop being retards. For example, because my credit card billing address is not in certain countries, I’m actively refused the chance to buy music through cheaper mainstream services like Amazon and Play. Since iTunes is too expensive (and doesn’t work with my preferred PC setup), if that’s my only choice for buying music then I don’t bother. Also, I don’t care myself, but if they did offer a choice of music quality & format, they might find their sales increasing that way as well.

I believe a lot of the record industry’s problems would end if they just realised that international borders do not exist online and that they could vastly increase their business by allowing everyone to buy their products. Of course, this would involve changing distribution deals and end price gouging of people in “richer” countries, but right now they’re losing a lot more than they realise.

Nick (profile) says:

Why lossless matters (aka why I won't pay for AAC or mp3)

The AAC post above already mentioned this, but the responses to it seemed to miss the point by focusing on the CD purchase which is currently the only legitimate way to get a lossless encoding of most music.

When you rip to a lossless format like FLAC, you can then transcode to *any format you like* without losing any additional audio quality beyond that lost by the format you are transcoding to. If your “original” is in a lossy format like AAC or MP3 though, then if you transcode it to a different format you will get a lower quality result because the file will not only be missing the signal information thrown away by the format you are transcoding to, but it will also be missing the signal information that was never included in the lossy original.

SunKing says:

@ARIEL: “Also… I refuse to buy an entire CD when there’s only one or two decent songs on it.”

Hey, all the bands I like fill their CD’s with good songs, with barely a ‘filler’ to be seen (or heard). Dunno what shit you’re listening too there but talent and musical integrity are generally a prerequisite for a band to actually be GOOD.

Jamie Mountz (user link) says:

I am basically the only one left in my group of friends who downloads music the “old fashioned” way… by PAYING for it. But now, with these price increases, I’m switching over.
I saw a quote from apple somewhere that said that they didn’t think the price raise would stop people from buying the hot songs… well it stopped me. I haven’t purchased any songs since the price raise. I’m getting them all from other sites.

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