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Amazon follows Apple to $1.29

update After Apple introduces variable pricing for song downloads on iTunes, the online retailer and other music sellers approached by the music labels appear to follow suit.

Updated on Wednesday with details about other online music stores.

As expected, Apple on Tuesday introduced variable pricing on iTunes, meaning that some popular tracks now cost $1.29 instead of $0.99. Less expected: has followed Apple into the fray. Scroll down today's list of top downloads, and you'll see a few tracks at $1.29.

I just stopped believing.

It was only a matter of time, but I didn't expect the price hike to come on the same day, given all the noise Amazon's been making about a special promotion in the U.K. (0.29 pounds for some selected track, down from the usual minimum of 0.59). I can't imagine Amazon's excited about raising prices in a recession--they're probably responding to price increases by the record labels, which were made possible by Apple's capitulation. Good luck with that!

Update at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday: It's not just Amazon. I heard from a contact at another large online music company that the impetus behind the new pricing models is indeed coming from the labels. Apparently, they approached all the major stores and asked them to begin selling certain songs for $1.29 on Tuesday.

Check out Rhapsody and Wal-Mart (which is selling tracks for $1.24, in keeping with its "5 cents cheaper" pricing strategy).

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