iTunes to give credits for full albums |

iTunes to give credits for full albums

SAN JOSE, Calif. ” Apple Inc., the company that popularized selling songs online for 99 cents apiece, now hopes to buoy interest in albums, giving customers credit for purchases of full albums from which they have bought individual tracks.

Apple introduced the “Complete My Album” feature Thursday on its iTunes Store. It now gives a full credit of 99 cents for every track the user previously purchased and applies it toward the purchase of the complete album.

For instance, most albums on iTunes cost $9.99 so a customer who already bought three tracks can download the rest of the album for $7.02.

Previously, users who bought singles and later opted to buy the album had to pay the full price of the album and ended up with duplicates of those songs.

The album price reduction is good for only 180 days after the initial purchase of individual tracks.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes, said the new feature should help eliminate the resistance that customers, including himself, may have felt in buying an album after they had already bought a single from it.

“Once we bought a song, we wondered why we had to buy it again if we wanted the album,” Cue said. “We hope it helps us sell more songs ultimately, and from the customer point of the view, we think it’s the right thing to do.”

About 45 percent of the nearly 2.5 billion songs sold on iTunes were purchased as albums, Cue said.

For a limited period of 90 days, Apple said it will make the “Complete My Album” offer retroactive to users who purchased tracks dating back to the launch of the iTunes Store four years ago.

Apple dominates the online music market and is a leading music retailer worldwide behind only Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. and Target Corp.

Some record label executives have complained about Apple’s one-size-fits-all model of 99 cents a track; they would prefer flexible pricing, such as charging more for new releases. Some also contend today’s easy access to single song downloads ” versus the more lucrative method of selling albums ” hasn’t helped the industry’s declining sales.

In addition, some artists have complained about how a la carte downloads have wrecked the integrity of albums that are meant to be enjoyed as a single work of art.

Apple plans to maintain its groundbreaking 99-cents-per-download model because “it’s exactly what consumers want,” Cue said in an interview.

He also said the concept of “albums should exist forever” as they’re being redefined in the digital era. Some albums sold on iTunes, for instance, include music videos as part of the package.

Digital technology allows for that kind of flexibility, Cue said, in the same way it allows iTunes to sell a single song and then apply the purchase toward a full album later.

Thomas Hesse, a president of global digital business at Sony BMG Music Entertainment, called “Complete My Album” another “revolutionary” offering from the Cupertino-based company. “ITunes is giving music fans the best of both worlds ” the ability to discover great new music by buying just the single and a credit toward the purchase of the complete album,” he said in a statement.

Shares of Apple climbed 51 cents to close at $93.75 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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