Last week was the first week of iTunes's new, steeper pricing on some tracks, and consumers voted with their wallets, according to Billboard. Sales figures from iTunes show that tracks that now sell for $1.29, up from $0.99, sold 12.5 percent fewer units than during the previous week, while tracks whose prices were unchanged sold 10 percent more than the week before. (Overall track sales were up 3 percent during the week).
Billboard also looked at how the sales of iTunes's top 100 songs (about half of which now sell for $1.29, up from $0.99) were impacted by the price hikes. While unit sales dropped about one percent, revenues were up over the prior week, according to iTunes, though exact figures weren't provided by Apple.
Many saw the move to higher prices for the most-popular tracks as a way to encourage consumers to buy more albums (versus single songs), but its still unclear whether consumers will be nudged in that direction; digital album sales were up only 3 percent over the previous week. As with any data, there are some nuances in last week's figures: the Black Eyed Peas "Boom Pow Pow," for example, was in the second week of its release so there would have likely been a dropoff from the initial week's pop regardless of the price change. That said, the numbers indicate that music is sensitive to price changes, even for the most popular tracks.
By Rory Maher