Lost in the shuffle of CES was rather interesting news from iTunes. The iTunes stores is going offer all of their music in iTunes Plus -- DRM-free (without copy-protection) and at a higher-quality bit rate. The 256 kbps AAC files were previously only available on select songs from EMI Records. Now, Universal, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group are all joining EMI in offering better-sounding, DRM-free music. Also, iPhone 3G and WiFi users can download music to their phones at the same price as a typical computer download.
But the big news is . . .
the new prices that will begin in April. Currently, the iTunes Plus catalog cost $1.29, while copy-protected, lower bit-rate files were $0.99. Beginning in April, songs will be either 69 cents, 99 cents, or $1.29, depending on what the music labels charge Apple. So, you can get a higher-quality file at a lower cost. What a bargain!
Worried that this is all a little too late -- you already have thousands of songs from Apple - with DRM and the lower bit-rate? iTunes will offer a one-click upgrade option for your entire library, for just 30 cents per song -- the difference between the 99 cents you originally paid and the $1.29 songs might now cost.
Currently, eight million of Apple's 10 million song library is available on iTunes Plus, with the remaining two million coming onboard by the end of March.
So, is DRM-free and higher-quality music worth the upgrade for you? Let us know if you plan to upgrade any or all of your library. —Leslie Shapiro
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