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iTunes Plus DRM-free tracks expanding, dropping to 99 cents

It’s been a while since Apple launched iTunes Plus, its version of DRM-free tracks sold through the iTunes Store. Only EMI tracks were sold as 256kbps, DRM-free AAC files through the iTunes Store in May, and in June, EMI reported that the iTunes Plus tracks were selling well. Since then, however, we haven’t heard much news about it. But according to people familiar with the matter, we will tomorrow.

Apple plans to expand iTunes Plus to include certain indie music labels starting Wednesday, October 17 (or sometime this week, at least). This tiny step is encouraging for those of us who like freedom with our music, but it sucks that more of the larger labels are still holding off from hopping on board. This expansion won’t include all independent music labels just yet, although we’re optimistic that more will be included in the future.

The bigger news on the iTunes Plus horizon, however, is that Apple plans to drop the price of all iTunes Plus tracks. Currently, each track is $1.29 while “normal” DRMed tracks are 99 ¢ apiece. That discrepancy will be no longer, as Apple will begin pricing all of its iTunes Plus songs at 99 ¢ apiece (DRMed tracks will also remain at 99 ¢).

While we have no information on whether the iTunes Plus songs are selling well, we assume that the decision to drop the price is a response to the Amazon MP3 store. Amazon sells individual tracks for between 89 ¢ and 99 ¢ apiece, all without any DRM restrictions. With that in mind, it’s kind of hard for Apple to compete at $1.29.

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