Apple iTunes' announcement that it will begin offering DRM-free music from all four major labels and will add a new pricing scheme for tracks today was, to say the least, covered extensively. Below, a round-up of reaction from around the Web and what the move means for comsumers, Apple and the labels.

"In the near term, labels will be able to see how consumer demand reacts to price. I believe actively sale pricing titles will get more movement than permanent, lower prices on some titles. But we'll see. That's the point. iTunes customers' price sensitivity can now be better measured. Much can be gained from the resulting sales data." [Coolfer.com]

"The labels will be happy that they got a shift in pricing strategy, but it's not going to produce major results for them anytime soon." [Silicon Alley Insider]

"This is overdue and needed to differentiate premium from subsidized services like Nokia's Comes With Music. The more you pay, the less DRM you get." [Forrester Research music analyst Mark Mulligan, via PaidContent]

"So does this represent a win for iTunes customers? Certainly the move away from DRM is a step forward for all customers. As for the tiered pricing, it depends on how you shop for and listen to music. If you prefer to listen to the newest, hottest tracks, this move will likely represent a 30 percent hit on the pocketbook, albeit a DRM-free and (likely) higher-quality hit. For back catalog customers, the lower 69¢ per track price may prove welcome, although it's unclear how album prices will be affected. Many album purchases, both recent and back-catalog, already have per-track prices that are significantly lower than 99¢/track." [ArsTechnica]

"...the country's largest music retailer secured licenses that will enable users to upgrade their existing DRM-wrapped music and strip it of the controversial software--but it's going to cost you.

An Apple spokesman offered more details: Users of iTunes can now upgrade their music libraries with a click of a button. For and additional 30 cents per song, a user can receive a DRM-free version of their existing tracks at a 256-kbps bitrate." [CNET]

"In the end, each side got what it wanted and gave up what it vowed never to concede, with no sweeteners -- which only means we could have got here a long, long time ago. Indeed, iTunes merely joins other digital music stores that have already agreed to major labels' demands for variable pricing (Amazon, MySpace, Wal-Mart, etc.) in offering their large music catalogs without DRM.

But for Apple the deal meant throwing in the towel on the one-price-fits all model Jobs credited as a major reason iTunes became the world's largest music vendor in five short years. In return, without the strictures of DRM, Apple has a open field to romp in a business that it already dominates -- something Jobs openly beseeched the labels for nearly two years ago." [Wired]

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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