No more one-price-fits-all for Apple’s iTunes store

The era of one-price-fits-all-songs on iTunes came to an end Tuesday as Apple Inc., the Internet’s dominant digital music retailer, began selling some of its most-downloaded songs for US$1.29 apiece.

SEATTLE — The era of one-price-fits-all-songs on iTunes came to an end Tuesday as Apple Inc., the Internet’s dominant digital music retailer, began selling some of its most-downloaded songs for US$1.29 apiece.

Apple said in January that it would end its practice of selling all individual songs for 99 cents each and begin offering three tiers: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29.

Recording companies pick the prices, much as they did for CDs sold in stores and online.

On day one, songs including Jai Ho from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, Single Ladies by Beyonce and Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band were bumped up to $1.29.

The main iTunes page advertised collections of 69-cent songs that included London Calling by The Clash and Monkey by George Michael.

Other songs from the same albums and artists remained at 99 cents.

Apple also did away with copy-protection technology known as digital-rights management, or DRM, allowing customers to play more songs on devices other than Apple’s own iPods.

Without DRM, the songs can be copied to any number of CDs, computers and music players, as long as those devices support the AAC encoding format Apple uses.

AAC, like the more widely used MP3 format, is a method of compressing large audio files while trying to preserve sound quality.

Shoppers looking for the lowest price have several iTunes alternatives, including Amazon, which sold songs for 79 and 89 cents and most albums for $5.99 to $9.99, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which sets prices at 64 cents, 94 cents and $1.24.

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