Why iTunes pricing has to change

There is an ongoing fuss about the flat-fee of iTunes. Apple dominance of the MP3 player market with the iPod and it's very close tie-in with iTunes has meant that the computer company has been able to tell the music industry what to do so far.

And in Steve Jobs' wisdom that has meant a flat 79p (or 99 cents in the US) per song, no matter what. The music industry doesn't like this and wants to be able to vary the price – charging more for the latest thing and, presumably, less for older albums.

I have to confess that after an initial burst I have stopped buying songs from iTunes. It's just works out too expensive. You don't think that 79p is very much but then you look at your credit card bill at the end of the month and think – in much the same way as you do with mobile phone bills – how the hell have I spent that much money? I never used to spend that much on music.

And so, inevitably, you wander off to file-sharing sites…

But yesterday afternoon I started singing a Lemonheads song. Confetti. It goes: “He kinda shoulda sorta woulda loved her if he could’ve, The story’s getting closer to the end, He kinda shoulda sorta woulda loved her if he could’ve, He’d rather be alone than pretend.”

And I went to the iPod to select it and put it on. Despite having over 30GB of music now – took me a month to convert my music collection into MP3s – I couldn't find it. I only had a tape of “Shame about Ray”, no CD, so I didn't have it on the white wonder. I decided to buy the album straight away to play the song.

I went to iTunes. It had the album. Although for some reason it wouldn't let you buy the whole album in one click – you had to buy all the 13 tracks independently at 79p. It's just as well that Apple had done this because it made me stop and think. That £10.27! For an album made in 1992!

I toyed with the idea of just buying Confetti but I really wanted the whole album at this stage because I had started remembering the other songs. So I thought I'd go check out Amazon. Sure enough on Amazon, a brand new copy costs just £6.97. iTunes was nearly 50 percent more expensive. Then I noticed I could also buy it new through Amazon's marketplace for just £3.50. So that's what I did – it cost £4.74 all in with postage and packaging.

So not only I am getting it for less than half the price of iTunes but I also have the CD. No matter which way you cut it, the CD will remain higher quality than an electronic file (at the moment). And of course I don't have to have a file in Apple's proprietary AAC format so I control what I do with the music, rather than Apple.

iTunes is, frankly, a massive, ridiculous rip-off.

And the thing is, now that I have been though this thought process, every time I even think about buying from iTunes, I will look around first. iTunes has become the last resort for music.

Apple is really screwing up here. It needs to change its pricing very, very soon.

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