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back to article Amazon UK kicks off low-end price scuffle with iTunes

Amazon has kicked off what some members of the soar-away press are describing as an MP3 price war, after it slashed over 100 of its top-selling tracks to just 29 pence a pop in the UK. However, the online retailer has only made the chop to a slender number of its huge MP3 catalogue. The move has clearly been orchestrated to …

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Stunt

This 29p thing is just a publicity stunt by Amazon to coincide with Apple's new price structure.

Just 0.002% of Amazon's tracks are at the 29p price-point, and no doubt only temporarily, because after the record industry and artist cuts, there can't be much if any money left.

The record industry has long wanted variable pricing in iTunes, but Apple has pushed to keep flat-rate pricing, which is simpler all round.

Finally though, in return for the Record Labels allowing Apple to sell DRM-free tracks, Apple has given in and bowed to the variable pricing conditions.

It's no secret that the Record Industry doesn't like Apple's dominance in the market, so giving preferential treatment (lower-prices and DRM-free) to alternative retailers is seen as a way to reduce Apple's majority market share.

The way this is being reported by the mainstream media you'd think Apple are deliberately increasing their prices at exactly the same time as Amazon is lowering theirs.

In reality, Apple's pricing is governed by the Record Labels, and Amazon's temporary promotional price on a handful of tracks is a well-timed, loss-leading, publicity stunt.

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I

I didn't even know Amazon did MP3 downloads, they'll be getting some of my money if it's DRM free and doesn't require invasive software.

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Bonus

I'm struggling to remember how much 7" singles cost in the UK in the mid 80's when I was a teenager. I seem to recall buying Do They Know It's Christmas, and West End Girls and Money For Nothing* and other such 80's greatness for 99p.

That means buying tracks on line is now cheaper than it was 25 years ago.

That's progress, as much as we all like to bash the record companies.

Having said that, I can also remember getting my YTS money on a Friday, (the princely sum £17.50 for a weeks work IIRC) and going up to Rainbow Records in Shrewsbury with my hard earned to buy an album. The rest I would give to my mum. Bless her.

I still have some of those albums, with the price tag on them. Chris Rea, Mike Oldfield (Crises - great album), Stevie Ray Vaughan**, all £5.95.

Still some ways to go on the album prices me thinks!

* other great 80's tracks are available

** other great 80's bands are available. But not Kajagoogoo. They were shit. And Dollar.

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Rip Off Britain Etc

Here in Amsterdam I bought a track* off the NL iTunes earlier for the "can't bothered to download the torrent at that price!" price of EURO 0.69. Which is about 61p. Plus they have albums for under 7 Euros. Rip it up and start again Britain! On the downside, Amazon politely decline to sell me MP3s online from their store, even though I have offered to show my UK passport. Oh yes, and we are still waiting for the iPlayer to come here. Hurry up!

*Yes, thanks for asking, it was Planet Claire, by the excellent B-52s.

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Amazon Top it

It may just be a stunt and short lived re: 29p tracks but I've used amazon a fair bit for MP3s and they have been V. competitively priced with no DRM and high quality.

No DRM and cheap, why would you use iTunes again? I think Apple needed some serious competition to kick them into gear and this might do it.

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Jobs Horns

Can you buy any Haricut 100 tracks for 29p?

Nothing wrong with Amazon downloads. 320 kbps with no DRM. Really easy to use and it puts the albums into Windows Media Player nice and snugly with an album cover. It has no motive of 'puter domination like iTunes.

Still prefer something more tangible though.

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Happy

@Jim Cosser

iTunes has NO DRM ANYMORE! So you can continue to buy ...

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Pirate

3 words

The Pirate Bay

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ben
Paris Hilton

DRM on itunes?

I thought that had been taken off?

paris, because i clearly buy too much and know too little.

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@Martin Lyne

I've bought a few songs from Amazon. They will recommend you use some in-house downloader thingy, but they make it absolutely trivial to avoid. No DRM either - at least in the songs I acquired.

This was back a few months ago, and I noticed they already had at least a two-tier pricing scheme in effect. It seemed new releases were around $0.30 cheaper than older tracks.

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Joke

Cheap new releases

...but only if you want to buy a load of shit.

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Search function pants

I wandered into Amazon a while ago and tried searching for what I wanted, that was a mistake. Pages and pages of stuff not even close. I don't care that the iTunes Store is more expensive, at least I can find what I want easily.

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Amazon MP3 FTW

Amazon's MP3 service is great - harder to search than iTunes but almost always cheaper and often by a huge margin, especially on new stuff.

Plus it's all good quality, DRM free and the downloader stuffs it into iTunes for me without being asked.

Very favourable experience from Amazon.

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Pirate

iPirates

So when are Apple going to start removing unlicenced tracks from iTunes after they've been notified of their status ?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Mark Wills

but a single had (at least) 2 tracks therefore was cheaper @99p

Also, haven't play.com been selling drm free downloads for much longer and cheaper than amazon anyway?

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