We’ll find out on April 7, when Apple’s digital-music store iTunes starts selling select tracks—read: tracks that have already proven to be worthy of peoples’ money, like the unkillable Flo Rida/Dr. Luke collaboration “Right Round”—for a buck twenty-nine. Sure, other songs that reside on the deep end of the Long Tail will have their prices slashed, but most of the attention on iTunes’ introduction of variable pricing is focusing on the songs that will get more expensive, because those are the ones that are currently popular with iTunes users. Whether or not this “premium pricing” will affect the longer-term chart prospects of the likes of “Poker Face” and “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” is still up in the air, but my guess is that it’ll probably result in a lot of rending of overpriced garments in major labels’ boardrooms starting, oh, April 8 or so.
One former EMI executive is already calling the variable-pricing move a “PR nightmare” and comparing this 30-cent-a-song increase to the AIG bonuses thanks to its recessionary timing. Which is somewhat extreme, I’d say, but then again I’m sure there are people out there who have compared the whole concept of paying for recorded music at all to things like the Holocaust and slavery so maybe he’s actually showing some restraint.
And why do I have a feeling that this pricing isn’t going to affect the fate of “I Love College” one bit?