Shock! Disbelief! Big Music Price Hike Makes Tunes Less Popular!

iPhone vs. Big Media

I bought a bunch of music on April 6th at $0.99 in advance of the April 7th variable price shift. (Unlike Amazon and Walmart, Apple pre-announced the new pricing back in January). Now much of the music I bought, including many old, no longer popular tracks, is listed at $1.29. Looking at those prices today, I admit they make me think twice about buying again. According to Billboard (based on Gizmodo), I'm not the only one feeling that way:

One day after the price jump, there were 40 $1.29 songs in the Top 100, and 60 at 99 cents. The $1.29 songs fell an average of 5.3 places, while 99 cent songs moved up 2.5 places on average. The total average chart drop of pricier songs since the prices went up is about three places.

Unfortunately, Big Music is still making more money total on less sales of higher priced tracks, so they may not care. Historically, they've shown zero foresight when it comes to pricing themselves to compete with "free" pirated music, which was the whole crux of Steve Jobs' iTunes pitch to begin with. See Rolling Stone from 2003:

We don't see how you convince people to stop being thieves, unless you can offer them a carrot — not just a stick. And the carrot is: We're gonna offer you a better experience ... and it's only gonna cost you a dollar a song.

Also still unexplained is where all that $0.69 music is that we were told would more than make up for the price hike on the higher end.

What do you think? Will you buy less music at $1.29 than you would have at the old $0.99 price point? Or is $1.29 a fair, modern market price for your favorite tracks?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Shock! Disbelief! Big Music Price Hike Makes Tunes Less Popular!


who BUYS music anymore? I hope BiG music has saved the money from all the $19.99 CDs with 2 good songs and 13 trash songs during the 90s I bought!

I remember when CDs first came out. Tapes were $10 and Big Music said CDs were more expensive to recoup R&D, but would drop in price to eventually be cheaper than tape. They did, but rather than pass along the economies of scale to consumers -- the people supporting them and paying their bills -- they raised prices to gouge us.
Again, why hate your customers?

I won't be buying any songs at 1.29.......I give it 6 Months till iTunes says screw it and goes back to 99 cent only.
And seriously where the hell is the 69 cent songs

What I absolutely LOVE is how Apple tried to justify the $1.29 hike by saying that customers were getting the ability to download songs over AT&T's cellular network. C'mon, Apple. What kind of a trade is that?
I think I might just go back to buying CDs. Overpriced singles and "album only" songs are causing Apple to lose more than a few customers.
Seems like Jobs got hungry and decided to eat our carrot.

yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me, no way going to pay for overpriced mp3s i can get for free. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha he he he he he!

I'll pay. Don't have a problem with the price hike. Heck. These are songs that I will listen to for years to come. For me it's worth a measly $1.29. And to those that think pirating is the answer. Thank you. Prices could be lower but the fractured morals of these theives have taken care of that. I hope that someday you realize that the world owes you nothing but will TAKE what it's owed.

60c price hike here, to $2.19 a track! I'm going to give iTunes a miss for song downloads now.

blah blah blah @ CHobbs the music industry did it to themselves plus the good artist still make good money on concerts can't bootleg that

Another vote for pirating here. You gotta be an idiot to actually pay for music especially with this price hike. It's not like the artists are starving

Ok so if individual songs are 1.29 then are the full album downloads still gonna be 9.99 or is the entire album price going up also?

Really? you people are advocating stealing?!!! I hope you don't have children cause your example is teaching them a very hard way to live!! I am shocked that you would openly admit to stealing! you should be ashamed not justifying. I am ashamed for you.

and of course an industry is going to try and get all it can for its products! that is the what they're supposed to do. if they go to far then people will stop buying, and that is how consumers talk to the industry. never never never is it OK to take something that belongs to someone else.

oops again.."if they go TOO far"
Just really upset that fellow iphone users are among the rif raf of our community

Whatever happened to the retailing concept of volume? I can either make a lot of money off of few sales, or I can make a ton of cash off of a huge amount of sales. Since there are not other tangible costs to defeat the volume model (manufacturing, shipping, handling) with online music sales, it seems to me that creating false scarcity hurts their business model in the long term.

I just tried out that new music site called spotify
Well all I can say that I tunes and the likes of are gonna have to have a serious re think on prices now . On this new site I can listen to pretty much anything for free . It is well setup and works just like iTunes. No more losing memory for mix at home at least.

If iTunes had been around twenty years ago I'd have gladly paid $1.29 a song. But I wouldn't even pay $0.10 a song for today's music anyway.

Copy a file is NOT stealing. What have I stolen? Putting something in your pocket at a 7/11 is stealing. Copying a file is an entirely different act. No one has lost anything. Get over yourselves.

I only have 678 songs in my library an had I payed $1.29 for all of them I would have $875 less in my pocket....where's the logic?

Ps I go to my local library ... Rent CDs....burn a few tracks....n never pay- same goes with my friends Cds...I see not difference between that an file sharing

A thief is a thief, no matter how to dress it up. Hearing some of you speak makes me ashamed and embarrassed. Yes, big music is stupid and clumsy at times, but you guys are criminals and deserve to have the book thrown at you.

@STUstone - you are a thief.
@Loramar - you are a thief.
@Frazam - you are a thief.
@Tone - you are a thief.
@Pay 4 music - you are a thief.
@matt hall - you are a thief.

What bothers me even more than the theft, is how proud these deadbeats are of themselves. They're not clever... they're just punks. Period.

A while ago I used to download illegaly but I would also buy some tracks on iTunes. After iTunes went DRM free, I decided that the music I was getting was lousy and of horrible quality. Now I just buy straight from iTunes and I never want to go back to stealing my tunes.

@stustone. And how long will you keep the music? Ten years maybe? That's a mere $86 a year. The math still works for me. As a matter of fact I much rather pay 1.29 for a song that I want rather $9 for ten songs that I don't want and have them take up disk space.
And copying a file is stealing if it's content does not belong to you and you do not have permission to copy it. I am not judging you as a whole but only your action of stealing.

@drew. Craig is right. Here is the part that bothers me the most. People openly justifying something that is clearly wrong, convincing others that it's ok too. If your gonna be a leader, take responsibily and lead with high standards. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

blah blah @ disgust I steal music? Whatever if I could download food for free I would if I could download rent for free I would if I could Download a car for free I would music being accessible to me for free online is Big Musics problem not mine!

Everyone. Let's all go over to Tones house and take his stuff. It's accessible to us, so it must be ok. He said so. It's not our fault we can get to it.
Your pathetic.

I think the main point is......yes, I don't download music illegally but I don't look at downloading a song off the net the same as stealing a tv or someone personal property who really needs it and is financially in trouble. These artists have no one but themselves to blame for this. They used to haha when they had 2 good songs and people had to pony up $20 for a cd just to get the songs. Then Napster happened and suddenly they want to moan. They come up with a reasonable solution with iTunes......and decide to get greedy again and raise the price to $1.29.....they will never learn apparently.
So, while I don't download music or movies illegally, I'm not shedding any tears for these multimillion dollar artists and recording companies when someone does.
Again, downloading a song off the net is not nearly the same thing as going into someone's house and stealing from them so let's stop the posturing

I mean how am I scum!? tHERE is no difference in Downloading music off the Internet and listening to the radio? I'm Not Downloading it and sellin it to people I'm Downloading it to listen like ummmmmm turning on the the radio!

@ kevin yea if my things were accessible to you like out in the open unlocked and u wanted to use it and not take it and sell it sure enjoy yourself mi casa su casa

Tone - so, if you kept the stuff you didnt want taken locked up in your home, but your neighbor gave out a key to your home so people could come take what they wanted while you were at work during the day, without your permission, you'd be cool with that? Please. Whatever. You'd be crying to the police like a little baby. But, if your really so "ok" with it, why don't you publically post you name and address here, and we'll see if we can get someone to come pay you a visit and "test your theory". No? Didn't think so.
Drew - Its completely the same. Your taking something that you didn't pay for, and doesn't belong to you. What's the definition of stealing again? Look it up.
Seriously. I think the music industry is a bunch of money grubbing, talentless hacks and fakes too. But I'm not going to steal from them to prove that point. If I did, I'd be worse than they are. If I want to get my point across, I just won't buy the music. Plain and simple. Thats why I'd stab myself in the eyes, before I'd ever buy a Britney Spears album. Talentless fakes don't deserve reward. But they also deserve the right to try to peddle their waste of space existence for they're own profit. That's, unfortunately, part of the American Dream. But, if everyone just kept from buying it, they'd get the message.
So if you don't like it, don't buy it. But don't steal it either. You can try to convince yourself you're justified in doing it, but you're not.

The fact that your not taking something that someone needs, such as food etc..., is beside the point. I also do not feel bad for the music industry. But advocating stealing or even implying that they deserve it is wrong. It does not matter WHAT or WHO you steal from. It is absolutely wrong no matter how you try to spin it. And I'll say it again. If you plan to ignore reason and higher standards then so be it. But at least have the dignity to keep your theivery a secret and quit publicly claiming that it doesn't hurt anyone and so it must be ok. It absolutely is not ok.

@ kevin now thats just silly guy. internet downloading and peer sharing is A-OK as long as im not selling it :) its like if we were friends and I wanted to hold your CD im not gonna put the white light on you and see ARE YOU SURE THATS YOUR CD where did you get it SHOW ME your receipt! im going to enjoy the music and say THANKS BUD your a good friend

@ tone. If you hear it on the radio great!! But when you download it you get the right to listen to it when and where you want. So no, it is definately not the same as listening to it on the radio. Otherwise you wouldn't be compelled to download it in the first place...duh. So if you want it go buy it. If you don't want to pay you don't get to play, duh

Borrowing from afreind is cool. But there is still only one copy. You still don't get the choice to listen to it whenever you want, only for the time your freind let you borrow it.

Sorry Tone. But I absolutely disagree with you. Think back 15 years ago before MP3s. If you wanted a complete, professionally sounding version of a song from a cd, you had 2 choices. Buy it at the store, or steal it from the store. There was always the option of waiting for it to be played on the radio, and recording it to tape, but you get crappy quality and dj voice overs. So really, it's buy it or steal it, from a store. Just because technology has advanced, and it is now easier to take it without paying for it, and less chance of getting caught and less chance of suffering the public humiliation of being handcuffed and put in a squad car, doesn't make it any less of a theft. And to your example, loaning a cd to a friend is ok, because only one of you is able to listen to it at any time. Your right. There is no check on who purchased it. But its the right for ONE USE of it that's purchased. Now if your friend copies it, and you both enjoy TWO USES of it, when you've paid for one, it's wrong. There's no grey area here just because it's easier now. It just is.
A good friend, in your example, would let you listen to the cd, to see if you like it and if it's worth spending your money on, and then suggest you go buy it if you really like it. I didn't pay $12.99 for a cd I like, so you can steal it for free from me. That doesn't make you a very good friend to me, in my book. It means you view yourself as better than me, since I follow by the rules, and you feel you don't have to.
Sorry mate. There's really nothing you can say that would ever convince me otherwise. I would expect to treat others how I would like to be treated. If it was my intellectual property you were stealing, I wouldn't like it. Just like if it was your intellectual property or real property, you wouldn't either.

The concept of getting something for nothing is why we are in this recession mess anyway. People who steal music suck.

We harm and hurt ourselves when we steal or do anything else immoral. There is the harm we do to others, and the wrongness of that should motivate us to desist. But it's not cost-free for us, the wrong-doer. Walk into a convenience store owner has fled the scene vid cameras malfunctioned and thousands of dollars spilling out of the cash register--why not take what you can and walk away? Why isn't that the smart thing to do? It's not the smart thing to do because it encourages and emboldens forces within you that, when loosened, degrade us to a non-human state that in fact we all have a direct, immediate, personal interest in avoiding. And we all know this perfectly well. It is not an obscure philosophic point. The truth is that many people talk themselves into believing that "self-interest" is synonymous with "descent to rapacious appetitive monad," but it doesn't take an advanced degree in deep thoughts to know that this is absurd. "Thou shalt not talk yourself into being a monster" and if downloading an mp3 that does not belong to you is even one baby step in that direction then the mp3 must go. Better, as Jesus would say, that you should lose your Cold Play mp3 song than that you should lose your humanity -- or even take the slightest step in the direction of it.

Demonoid <3.
Sorry guys but I have NO problem taking away from the big guys!
I must admit, I have purchased maybe 3 songs in my life..........yes, I'm a horrible, terrible, morally challenged, music stealing girl... oh well life goes on.
My way of of supporting my favorite artists(because we all know they're hurting for cash) is by going to their shows. I will be going to see depeche mode in a couple months!! <3 and tickets are not cheap.

Actually, I am not a thief according to the supreme court of Canada. Peer-peer music downloading has been deemed legal in Canada and therefore I am acting within the law.

Hey, my thing is if you get CDs when they come out, they're usually $9.99 and under, especially on Amazon. Why should I pay $.99 a song when the album is exponentially less than the sum total of songs? Think about it.

Willie - Have you been to a grocery store in the last 100 years? Buy a single box of cereal, and it's $3.00. Or, the store has a sale, and you can buy 4 boxes for $10. It's called buying in bulk. That doesn't give you the right to steal that single $3 box of cereal, just because the 4 for $10 is a better deal, but you only really want 1 box. That can't honestly be your argument for why it's ok to steal digital music, can it?
What court case was that, Frazam? I'd love to look that one up. Can you provide it, please?
Ana - so it's ok, as long as it doesn't hurt you, then? Oh well. I at least give you credit for admitting what you doing is wrong.

Ana's self will has blinded her judgement. She and fraZam both are unwilling to listen.
Are you confident that you need to have that mp3 track to make you happy? If so I'll buy one for you. I don't have much money bit if it makes you happy I'll buy you two. How about if I don't buy that box of cereal for my son and I buy you three. Will you finally be satisfied? As long as your satisfied mevermind the people around you right?

I'll buy music at $1.29... It's cheaper than buying a whole album. If I happen to come across an album that has several good songs on it and it turns out to be cheaper than buying individual songs, then I'll buy the album. I think paying an extra $0.30 is worth it, to have the song DRM free and a higher quality.

If you think its wrong fine, who cares, unless they stop or make it more of a risk for downloading music for free i'm going to do it i don't care if you think i'm a bad person. I'm not paying for something that is data on a harddrive that i can get for free by just click my finger on a button of my mouse to get for free, i feel stupid paying for something when its right there. plus a lot of the stuff i download i'd never really buy for real if it wasnt free. a lot of it turns out to suck and i delete it anyway.

I lost track of the number of soap boxes that boldly showed up here. Stealing is wrong. Stealing is harmful. That is probably true most of the time. But it really doesn't matter to a public that feels gouged by corporations that have had many opportunities to make a profit and still be fair to the consumer. Is that a justification to steal? No. But it matters not. As long as it is possible to get music for free, there will be people that take advantage, regardless of a moral "code".
The world is not a fair place. Once that truth sinks in, life is a little easier to understand.
I tend to get my music from friends that make mixes for me. Under the strict moral "code" that has been drummed here, there would be no such thing as a mix or customized CD. There certainly would be a lot less gifts under the Christmas trees and at birthday parties.
Seriously, it's hard to hear a lot of judgment about consumers acting in their own personal interest when corporations are doing the same. The whole thing is flawed. I don't think any consumer is "scum". I think the situation is simple unfair and very much life. Sad to say.
I don't want to pay .99 for a song, let alone $1.29, but that's life.

Anyone watch HULU? It’s a free site that you can watch seasons of your favorite shows. Is that STEALING? It’s provided.
If I take a DUMP in a public rest room, I use the toilet paper. Is that my toilet paper? No but I use it and flush. I say this and wonder why people get so heated!
Stealing or not, you AQUIRE the music some way or another. Price hikes are not fair. Not everyone can get as biblical as ya’ll and quote things like god don’t like a thief.
If you buy something that you did not know was stolen you know you can still be prosecuted for it? What if apple stole music and sold it to you. You all would be in trouble also. So chill with the morals.
Take all you can while you can because it won’t be there for long.

PS... With the 3.0 comming out...
-Is it wrong to voice record a song on the radio and then listen to it as gym music? Is that stealing? You all are CRAZY!!

@SpiceRak2: Nobody here said consumers were scum... they said THIEVES were scum. Seems you're not even ready to discuss this. :roll:
@Greg Iphone User: The toilet paper is there for you to use. Therefore, it's not stealing. You should be embarrassed that someone even has to explain that to you. Seems you're also not even ready to discuss this. :roll:
You're both nothing but thieves.

to all of those that still think pirating music is ok. And there are many.... Y'all have completely missed the point. Carry on my morally challenged peers. Keep on living on the "get what you can when you can" standard and you'll live happily ever after.
Just remember that (you are right) life is absolutely not fair, the music industry is not fair, the law is not fair, you have made the obvious clear. But where exactly is it that you'll draw the line for yourself? A little music here, a freinds magazine perhaps, well how about a dollor from a large company that'll never miss it... Pacticing this then soon becomes normal behavior. And still you'll feel justified (why, again) well it doesn't matter. I'm not hurting anyone.
Can't y'all see thpoint now?

@ Chobbs
If you want to buy me a song, sure ;)
Downloading songs through peer-peer does not affect you. I also don’t think I’m putting a dent in the music execs ability to pay off his/her Lamborghini or multi-million dollar home.
@kevin I was being a mostly sarcastic but yeah I guess it is a little wrong, maybe. Like I said when it comes to corporate America I don't feel bad. Take for example: cracked apps, I haven’t even entertained the idea of getting my apps that way. I don’t take from the “little guy” =) .

@Steve: Your comments are petty and harmful. Again, that's what life offers sometimes. I have not stolen anything and you know nothing about me; certainly not enough to call me a thief.
I'll say it again: Not everyone has the same morals. And that makes the world an unfair place. That is sad but also a truth.
I will even venture to say that there are rarely situations where "all or nothing" mentality applies. Right and wrong will always be up to interpretation.
The public reacts to what feels like injustice. There would not be a trend of pirating if the public perceived fairness from the wealthiest among us. I never said this was right or wrong. Just what it is.

Little guy. Big guy. Does not matter from whom these things are being taken from.
Again no judgement from me about people as a whole. Just judging the specific act. And no anna I will not buy you a song unless you tell me that you at least admit that piracy is wrong. If you do that I will happily buy you two!

Ana - I appreciate your response, and welcome your opinion. I was not calling you a bad person. In fact, I'm sure your probably a rather nice person. But, I do find your sense of justification rather amusing. So you won't take from the "little guy" but you will from someone who has more money. So, using this logic, it's ok to steal, as long as the person you are taking from can afford it more? Is that the new definition of "stealing" in Webster's dictionary? How can taking item A, which you didn't pay for and doesn't belong to you, be stealing, but taking that same item A from person not be if all the factors are the same, except for the income of the person? That isn't a double standard to you? So, is the question really the act of taking the item that doesn't belong to you, or is it more of your disatisfaction with the idea that someone makes more money and has more money than you do, and you just don't like it? Do you feel that's unfair? If that's the case, then maybe your issue isn't with big business, but instead with your disappointment in your own career choice and salary potential, and you feel that by taking from them, it makes you feel a bit better? (Fyi - I'm not trying to be mean, so please don't take it that way. Just trying to prove a point)
Greg - Toilet paper and taking a DUMP (as you so eloquently put it). That's your best argument? Really? Actually, though let's expand a bit on your thought. We've established that it's ok to use the TP. But what if I was to take the entire roll to take home and use for myself, because I just felt that I didn't want to buy my own. Is that stealing?
Spicerak - I love your "get off your soapbox" rant as you practically trip while scrambling to get up on yours. Classic. At least i'm aware that I'm on mine. How about you? But, I do have to disagree with you on one point you made. It really is Black and White. If it doesn't belong to you, and you haven't paid for it, and you take it, then it's stealing. End of story. The only thing that is Grey is your own sense of right and wrong and the standards you live by. And saying " that's just the way everything and everyone else is, so it makes it ok for me", is just plain sad. Be your own person.

@Kevin: It's all of the personal judgements which prove to be not so productive as they are harmful that made me reference the "soapbox". If you would please try to catch my meaning- I have not justified stealing for me or anyone else. I just tried to present a possible reason why it happens and I feel that reason is tied to a public sense of unfairness. You feel that there is no room for interpretation with your concept of morality. Good for you. But that does not define it for everyone else.
There was a lot of mud-slinging on this issue. I don't think it needs to be. I don't know you. How is it you think you know me? You have no knowledge of the "standards I live by". Perhaps you could use caution as you make such judgements. Or save it. That would be best.
As far as the price hike: I was used to using my own music, already purchased or given to me, which I could make into ringtones, etc. When I got my iPhone, I felt like I was moving backwards. A higher price feels like more of the same to me.

Spicerak. Maybe I misjudged you, so I'll take this opportunity to clarify if I'm mistaken or not. Simple question for you. Forget everyone else, and what they do and why they do it. Do you feel it's ok for YOU to download a song that you have not paid for and use it for your own enjoyment? Don't need a long detailed answer. Just a simple Yes/No will suffice. Thanx.

I have paid for the items I've downloaded, Kevin. If I didn't, it would be stealing. But I understand (at least I think I do) what drives others to be comfortable with another choice. That's all I have tried to say all along.

And all I've been trying to say is that taking something without paying is stealing. I too can understand (or try to anyways) why someone might do it, but whatever those reasons are, it still doesn't make it right. Those reasons arejust what people tell themselves to help them sleep better at night.
I beleive we are on the same page. We both pay for our digital music, and don't believe we would steal it. I misunderstood your point, and for that, I apologize.

Here is my 2 cents Stealing is wrong, Stealing:the act of taking something from someone unlawfully. Not that I condone is condemn either side of this argument I think that the business's did this to themselves if we were never meant to own more than 1 of the same time why did Microsoft,Mac come with the ability to copy music to your computer and burn it open up your windows media player if you still use that piece of crap and you will see rip which has a nice little tab from CD and as if that wasnt enough there is a burn CD tab to. What did these companies think people would do with this ability and its not as if it only came out when mp3's were big the ability to do this dates back to the early 90's. By all of you nay sayers standards if you have ever Burnt anything using a perfectly legal program you are a thief. If you had an apple and I could clone that apple and we would both have an apple I do not think you would much care if I took the clone. Now for all of you who think you should Copy the music. What you do does hurt a company while it does not seem like much to you as you may justify it as I'm only one person and I can't afford the music remember that there are millions of people thinking the same thing $1.5x$1Mil=$1.5mil in the end that is money that is not making its way back to people like you. Let me explain lets say there is a nice exec who makes lets say $500k a year now out of the 1.5 mil that the company lost the artist is not going to feel that sting they work on a agreed plan so that leaves the company. The owners want to keep their profit so they reduce cost somewhere so it either A)Comes out of their profit B) Comes out of the Execs income C) Comes out of the janitors technicians etc income(the common worker of the company) or D) The fairy godmother makes it all fine
For those of you with a brain see that it comes out of the common workers pay don't look at the artist to be losing money or the companies look at the people working there cause that's who gets hurt out of all this. If you really want songs and you somehow stumble upon a mp3 player feel free to download the music for free but buy it when you can remember that its people like you and their families that feel it in the end. Overall lets get along we are all adults I think to those children on here this is a important lesson to learn arguing online is like participating in the special Olympics even if you win your still retarded. Have a wonderful day to all of you and a good summer. Time for me to get back to =}