Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sara Bareilles a success story for variable pricing on iTunes. Coolfer observes one omission from the article: Her track "Love Song" was a free single of the week. I think I missed that one, though possibly I downloaded it and just never listened to it (I checked, it's on my iPod, so I guess, like most of the free stuff I download from iTunes, I just didn't bother to hear it). One other thing I would add to the coverage of iTunes "Next Big Thing" price cut: Variable prices for albums on iTunes is nothing new. The WSJ article certainly implies that the "standard $9.99" price for albums is nearly inviolable, yet as I kvetched about previously, iTunes has no problem jacking up the price of random albums (even those readily available on CD at or below the $9.99 price point), and they have been discounting albums featured through the "single of the week" program for some time. When labels talk variable pricing, they're talking singles, not albums. You know, the product they'd rather you didn't buy. If the labels are serious about protecting album sales, and moving people away from the singles purchasing model, they would use the price freedom iTunes apparently offers on album price more aggressively. I certainly understand the impulse to charge $12.99 or $14.99 for a hot new CD, but if you choose to do so, please stop complaining when people choose to buy the one hit single, instead. Because pricing that new hit at $1.99 won't make people buy the album instead of the single, it will make them download the song illegally. Now, at this stage in the game, I don't know how much album pricing versus singles pricing matters, as I think many of those whom have fallen into the habit of buying singles will continue to do so, regardless of album price. But I have a crazy hunch, if the record industry really does want to alter the singles/albums purchasing ratio, that the best way to do so would be to lower album pricing, not raise singles pricing. I don't even think the more consumer-friendly lower variable pricing on back catalog singles would matter much; once I'm looking at the album to buy the song, I'm probably going to buy it, whether its 99 cents or 49 cents; but if I were to see the album containing the single I'm looking at is $5.99 or so, I just might take a chance on the whole album.

Anyway, I'm sure the music industry really cares what I think about variable pricing; I just wanted to mention it, as an excuse to mention that the Greencards' new album is available as part of the "Next Big Thing" promotion, at $5.99. Almost as good a deal as eMusic (though you're stuck with DRM at iTunes). Rodrigo y Gabriela's eponymous debut is also available, at $6.99 (I've seen the album on sale at Best Buy pretty consistently at $7.99, and now it, too, is available at eMusic). Hard to go wrong with either of these, wherever you buy them.

UPDATE: I've added a playlist of the artists mentioned in this post via iMeem. First time I've written about artists available for streaming through their service. Lots of Sara Bareilles, less Rodrigo y Gabriela, and nothing from the Greencards' latest album, so I through in their only song available from iMeem, "Time." I'll look into the whole uploading thing later, and see if I can update the list with more of their stuff.

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