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Subtractions and Additions for iTunes Plus

That didn't take long: Less than a month after Amazon.com began selling MP3s without any "digital rights management" controls for considerably less than Apple's own iTunes Plus DRM-free downloads, Apple now seems to be cutting the prices of iTunes Plus downloads to match.

Last night, searches for iTunes Plus songs began showing many of them going for 99 cents--some of which, for the first time, came from independent record labels instead of just EMI, Apple's initial partner in this venture. But Universal, the other major music label besides EMI to sell music without DRM on Amazon, is holding off on iTunes Plus. In early August, company spokesman Peter Lofrumento wrote in an e-mail that Universal would use DRMed sales at iTunes as a "control group" to compare with no-DRM sales elsewhere, as part of a test that he said would conclude on Jan. 31.

Some of the new additions to the iTunes Plus inventory are songs that I've already obtained as regular, restricted iTunes downloads (as part of last summer's enormous digital-music giveaway on Facebook). But as of 10 a.m. today iTunes' "Upgrade My Library" feature wasn't showing them as available upgrades.

Over at computing publisher O'Reilly and Associates' MacDevCenter blog, Chris Adamson reported that he was charged 30 cents a song and $3 an album to upgrade his old purchases, the same rate as before.

Looks like Apple has realized it has competition and is now responding accordingly. Ah, capitalism at work.

Meanwhile, the other major-label music-download stores--Napster, Yahoo, Rhapsody, and Microsoft's Zune Marketplace--continue to lumber along, selling only copy-controlled files with far less flexibility than the MP3 and AAC downloads sold by Amazon and Apple. I wonder how that's working out for them.

And in other news, Led Zeppelin has finally discovered this Interweb thing and will allow digital-download sales of its work starting Nov. 13--which now leaves the Beatles unchallenged for the title of "Most Economically and Technologically Clueless '60s Band."

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 16, 2007; 10:14 AM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Next: News From Apple: iPhone to Open, iTunes Plus Expands, Leopard Next Week

Comments

Doesn't someone else own the rights to the Beatles' music? So while somebody is clueless, it's not necessarily Paul and Ringo.

Posted by: Kevin R | October 16, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Zune Marketplaces is working just fine :) it supplies me will all the music i want for $15/mth and now with the new update to the marketplace and the zune firmware to allow you to get videos, podcasts, wireless sync, 1 million DRM-Free tracks and compatibility with Windows Media Center TV Recordings. Zune is by far the way to go Itunes is all Name, and just monopolizing off of it. it will take time for Zune to take over the ipod just like the Xbox 360 took over PS3.

Posted by: Jon M'cu | October 16, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Amazing what a little COMPTETITION in the industry can do!

Posted by: Brian | October 16, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

eMusic still is the one for me, though.

Posted by: 23112 | October 16, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I apologize if this sounds dumb. Does the ITunes Jukebox have a control to stop a song? I only see pause. To stop songs, I either choose another song or close the ITunes Jukebox. Am I missing something?

Posted by: midanae | October 16, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

The Beatles own the rights to their recordings; Michael Jackson owns the rights to the compositions. Since Apple (Computer) sells recordings, not sheet music, it is The Beatles that are stalling.

Posted by: beetsnotbeats | October 16, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

The Play/Pause control in the iTunes window also stops play.

Can't say I'm pleased with Amazon MP3s. Only half of the album I bought there downloaded and Amazon has not refunded the payment.

Posted by: Podesta | October 17, 2007 1:12 AM | Report abuse

If you want a great FREE download by Sufjan Stevens listen to "All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands"

The lyrics to this month's song read as a litany or stream of consciousness thoughts. Reflection on each idea is up to the individual. Each of us, with our varied experiences, will relate differently to the message.

Check it out and blog at http://www.fscc-calledtobe.org


Posted by: SMA | October 17, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Why would you need a separate Stop control when you have Pause? Stop as a separate function from Pause is a relic of cassette players that could pause playback at a precise moment without disengaging the mechanism, while Stop would disengage the mechanism completely. With a cassette, you need that, because Stop was less stress on the tape, but you'd lose a little bit of the continuity of playback. Pause would stress the tape by keeping the mechanism in place, but you could pick up exactly where you left off.

It's just not necessary for a digital music player- there's no tape to stress by leaving something on extended pause.

Posted by: tjb | October 17, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

To TJB:

I have a preference for a stop button. Other jukeboxes, such as MusicMatch and WMP, have the control, why not ITunes? It's just one reason that I don't like the ITunes jukebox. I asked only to find out if there was something that I overlooked in the control functions.

Posted by: midanae | October 18, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I've used iTunes almost from its birth. Usually the music I go for does not/did not seem to have the DRM restriction.

On the other hand, I've recently noticed that several albums which iTunes features are not complete, nor are they the best rendition. On one occasion I realized the better album was a CD on Amazon.

Still, I love iTunes for its shear breadth of offering - books and podcasts - and more.

I do note, however that Netflix is jumping into the fray.

Posted by: Martin Bernstein | October 19, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree with tjb that a STOP button is totally unnecessary for a digital jukebox, but I would add one additional thought. If by STOP, versus PAUSE, you mean stop the song and return to the beginning, all you have to do in iTunes is hit PAUSE, then move the slider (under the song/album/artist title at the top of the Window) all the way to the left. That way, when you hit PLAY, it will start at the beginning of the song.

Posted by: chevy chase | November 1, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

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