Online music retailers shift pricing

Amazon offers discount promotions on albums

DENVER -- The cost of digital music is rising, and falling, depending on where you shop online these days. Amazon introduced two new discount promotions on select digital albums as part of an ongoing variable pricing strategy.

The company's Daily Deals effort will feature a new album every day, sold at a discounted price that will vary by title. Both new and catalog releases will be included. For instance, to support the new Coldplay album "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends," Amazon will feature each of the band's past four albums for $2, with "Brothers and Sisters" going for only $1.

The Friday Five promotion, meanwhile, will feature five albums for $5 each. Both are existing promotions that Amazon is only now publicizing outside of the digital store itself.

Meanwhile, eMusic is raising prices on the indie-focused music subscription service. Starting July 17, its entry-level pricing plan will jump from $10 a month for 30 downloads to $12 a month. Existing subscribers of the basic plan will be given an additional 10 downloads a month, while new subscribers will be limited to 30.

eMusic's bundled pricing strategy has been a source of concern for a handful of indie labels, some of which have let their agreements expire over the lower price-per-track gained from eMusic compared to other digital music retailers. It's unclear at this time whether increasing the lowest-level pricing tier will alleviate those concerns (let alone whether it was implemented to address them) considering that the highest service plans are those causing the most distress.

eMusic's Premium plan, for instance, is $20 a month for 75 songs, or about 26 cents a track. The new basic plan for incoming subscribers works out to 40 cents a track, while existing subscribers actually get more for their money, to 30 cents a track from the 33 cents a track under the old plan.
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