As expected and talked about previously, Apple’s iTunes has dropped the dreaded Digital Rights Managment (DRM) and added variable pricing to the iTunes store. There are now a range of prices ranging from $.69 a song up to $1.29. Of course the $1.29 price tag is for songs deemed hot and in demand, while the $.69 are for those deemed, well, not so hot and not so in demand. Of course there are still a slew of songs available for the familiar $.99. The New York Times Bits Blog has a good run down on how the pricing structure works.
All of the songs have been stripped of Apple’s FairPlay DRM and are now encoded in ACC format at a higher bit rate. The good news is that you’ll be able to swap songs around on multiple devices. The bad news for those who got hooked into iTunes early is that if you want a new DRM free copy of a song you already own, you have to pay for that privilege and with an upgrade (downgrade?) fee.
There is a lot of negative commentary today about the price increase, but very little commentary at all about the dropping of DRM, which I find curious. While I, like anybody would prefer to see all songs stay at the convenient .99 cent mark, I don’t think the variable pricing structure is such a big deal. The market will in time prove if this works the way the music industry thinks it will. And I’m sure for some it will mean some comparision shopping between Amazon’s MP3 Store and iTunes.