Apple's iTunes pricing scheme will never happen

Apple may be trying out a new pricing scheme for iTunes, but as Don Reisinger points out, the chances of that happening are slim, at best.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
3 min read

In a report that has sent shock waves throughout the entire Apple community, the Financial Times is reporting that Steve Jobs and company may be trying to coax record labels into allowing the firm to sell an unlimited number of iTunes songs as long as consumers pay a premium on iPods and iPhones. And while that may sound great to some (myself included), it'll never happen.

Unfortunately, we are currently limping through an era where common sense is always a second thought and record labels will do anything they can to ensure consumers are kept under their thumbs.

Sure, the idea of unlimited iTunes music downloads sounds great and it would probably ensure that Amazon and other services would die a slow and agonizing death, but common sense must prevail in this discussion and as far as I can tell, there's no chance any such a deal can be struck between record labels and Apple.

And here's why.

Simply put, the record labels hate Apple. In fact, the companies hate Apple so much, they snubbed Steve Jobs in his attempt to get DRM-free music on iTunes and followed Amazon down the path first. Aside from that, they've consistently rebuffed his attempts to lower song prices to a more suitable level and they've done all they can to ensure that Apple's power doesn't allow it to control their every move.

All the while, the record labels have single-handedly shown the world that they don't care about consumers and they most certainly couldn't care less about the artists. Aside from that, these record labels have consistently gone out of their way to solidify themselves as the very lowest of the low in their inexorable drive for greater profits at the expense of you and I.

Realizing this, why would any record label agree to a deal that would give Apple unlimited access to its library and receive only a set fee from the premium consumers pay for the devices?

Of course, those close to the negotiations have said that Apple and the record labels can't come to a deal because of the former's worries over exactly how much it would be forced to pay for a library of songs. Gee, you think?

Chances are, the record labels and Apple are sitting in a room somewhere and each time Apple throws out a figure, the record labels double it. Yep, that sounds about right.

More than likely, the result of these negotiations will have nothing to do with unlimited access to the iTunes store after paying a premium on hardware. If anything, Apple will probably strike a deal where consumers will be forced to pay a monthly subscription fee for unlimited downloads to be more competitive in the market.

That said, Apple is currently in talks with record labels over that as well. And according to those close to the proceedings, the record labels and Apple have only come to an agreement that customers can keep 40-50 tracks per year and would be willing to pay no more than $7-$8 per month for the subscription service.

What a crock. If true, look for a mass upheaval from serious music lovers who look at that and say, "what if I want 51 songs?"

Suffice it to say, none of these plans are worthwhile and the chances of either of them happening are slim. But in the slight chance that one slips through the cracks, look for the service to be locked down to an untenable level and the record labels to be laughing all the way to the bank.

The problem here is not Apple; I truly believe the company wants what's best for consumers as long as it can turn a profit. The real problem here is the record labels and they will continue to make our lives far more difficult than they should be because of their insatiable desire to limit our chances of getting what we want, how we want, when we want.

It's a sad day for the music industry and it looks like things will only get worse.