The iTunes Music Store has introduced a new feature that allows consumers to buy the remainder of an album in one click after initially purchasing select tracks on an a la carte basis.

iTunes is calling the offering "Complete My Album" and it works like this: If a consumer has already purchased three singles from an album via iTunes at 99 cents each and then wants the whole album, priced at say, $9.99, the balance of the tracks is available as bundle for $7.02. The amount the album cost is reduced depends on how many individual tracks from the collection the user has already purchased.

"Its about crediting you for the things you have already paid for," says Eddie Cue VP of applications for Apple.

Prior to now, iTunes users have had to make the choice of buying music as a la carte tracks or as an album bundle. There was no way for users who had sampled a handful of tracks to buy the rest of the album without re-purchasing content they already owned.

Customers have up to 180 days after first purchasing and individual track to buy the balance of the album through the "Complete My Album" feature. For a
limited time existing customers will also have the ability to round out album purchases on tracks they acquired more than 180 days ago. Cue says Apple had to negotiate a new usage right with the labels before it could launch the feature.

The move comes as the recording industry is looking for ways to protect album sales amid a 16% decline in the configuration, according to Nielsen SoundScan. CD sales in particular are hurting, off more than 20% year-to-date. But digital album sales are up more than 56% so far this year.

Industry executives are hoping that increased flexibility through programs like "Complete My Album" will further bolster purchasing of digital album bundles.

"We think this will increase music sales," says Cue. "But it was the right thing to do anyway."