iTunes is the most popular online distribution channel for downloading songs and it's now going to get more expensive starting April 7th. The LA Times is reporting that Apple has been notifying record labels of the soon to be price bump but has yet to announce it publicly.
"True to supply-and-demand economics, the price of music downloads will be geared to the artist's popularity. Releases from new artists would receive the lower pricing, while tracks from popular acts would get slapped with the higher rate. Even classics, such as Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," could retail for the higher price. Most of the 10 million songs in the iTunes catalog are expected to remain at 99 cents."
Apple and the record labels could not have picked a better time to raise prices. The world is in a recession that rivals the Great Depression and the record execs want to raise the cost when people are already cutting back on spending.
The 99 cents psychological barrier will be tested by the new pricing scheme but all is not bad news. In light of the variable pricing model end users will get DRM free tracks that can be played on any device and copied as many times as needed.