Amazon, Wal-Mart also up MP3 prices

Those theories that the iTunes price hikes were a chance for other stores to gain market share? Forget about it.

Just a day after iTunes introduced variable pricing for music downloads, reports are coming in on price increases at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Lala, Napster and Rhapsody. As with iTunes, the prices are roughly 30 cents higher than the old dollar-per-track model, and mostly affect popular songs.

The switch to variable pricing has yielded some cheaper tracks as well, with Amazon selling tunes at 79 cents and 89 cents. Wal-Mart, always rolling back those prices, trends lower than the other sites with its most expensive offerings at $1.25.

Amazon, Wal-Mart also up MP3 prices

Lala’s blog has made note of the phenomenon, calling it an "industry shift."

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"Starting this week, you will see much more variable pricing by all music retailers, with the price moving higher on some tracks and lower on others," the blog says.

Hypebot had also noticed some interesting trends from specific music labels. EMI has apparently refrained from higher pricing; hit tracks from bands such as Coldplay are still selling for a dollar on iTunes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sony is forcing $1.29 tracks upon all retailers thanks to a policy that lets it set the final pricing for its products. With other labels, pricing for a particular track may vary from one online store to the next.

What to do, then? Follow PC World’s advice and check out Download Shopper or the iTunes add-on Advantageous MP3. Both will help you find the lowest prices on the ‘net. Good luck out there.

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