NEW YORK Oct 16 Apple Inc.'s (AAPL.O) iTunes
music store cut the price of digital songs it sells without
copy protection to 99 cents from $1.29 on Tuesday, bringing
them in line with songs that have copy protection.
ITunes started selling digital songs and albums without
copy protection, known as digital rights management, in May in
a service called iTunes Plus. Its first major record company
partner was EMI Group, announced in April.
Apple said it is adding over 2 million tracks from
independent labels in addition to EMI's digital catalog.
"ITunes Plus has been incredibly popular with our customers
and now we're making it available at an even more affordable
price," said an Apple spokesman.
Though Apple founder Steve Jobs had hoped iTunes would lead
the way in encouraging major music groups to drop DRM, he has
failed to secure a contract with Universal Music Group, the
largest music label.
Universal Music Group instead said in August it will
partner with major retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N)
and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) to trial selling songs without DRM.
Wal-Mart sells DRM-free songs for 94 cents each.
Executives at Universal are concerned that Apple's
dominance in the digital music, with 70 percent market share,
is not helping the fledgling sector grow.
Digital rights management prevents users from illegally
distributing music to others. But industry critics say it has
also hampered the growth of digital music sales as it can
restrict users to playing the songs they buy to certain
For example DRM-protected songs bought on iTunes can only
be played on a user's personal computer or the iPod, but not on
Some music executives are hoping that by selling music
without DRM it will boost sales across the board.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke)