Amie Street announced today the addition of the Sony Music catalog to their site -- and the special status songs in that catalog will have. While all other songs currently on Amie Street start free, and can get as expensive as $.98 as more and more people purchase them, Sony songs will be fixed at either $.69, $.99, or $1.29 (more expensive than anything else on the site can ever possibly get). Here's an excerpt from the letter posted on their site:
The songs in the Sony catalog will be priced at $.69, $.99 and $1.29, not dynamically like the rest of the music on Amie Street. All the music you download on Amie Street, including Sony’s, is still iPod compatible DRM-free MP3s, meaning you can play it on any device and transfer it among multiple computers.eMusic added a bunch of Sony Music stuff too (songs over 2 years old, only), and was forced to drastically alter its pricing plans to do so. The reaction from eMusic's longtime customers to the changing of their plans was so strong(ly negative) that eMusic wisely sent out this email giving away 50 free songs for the trouble.
We know this is a big change, and we’re confident that it will make Amie Street a better place for you to discover, download, and share new music. We spent hundreds of hours asking members of the Amie Street community whether this kind of catalog belonged on the site, and for most of you the answer was a definite Yes.
So, you add a lot of compelling, exciting music to your site. Springsteen, Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. But in the process, you cannibalize that which made you different from (and many of your customers would say better than) iTunes, or the Amazon store. You haven't become the same as them, only more similar.
In the case of Amie Street, you haven't actually even changed anything about the pricing of music that was already available on your site, but you've still added a degree of complexity that will perplex and frustrate customers going forward. You've surrendered...something. Principle, maybe? I don't know. Amie Street recently stopped allowing multiple downloads of purchased songs...was that a precursor to this deal? Because that's kind of a pain in the ass.
Honestly, I'm curious to see how this works out, both for the retailers and for Sony Music. It's change at least, and it shows some developing openness (and admission that the old ways aren't quite working) on Sony's part. But to me, it feels like one step up and two steps back, and then maybe another step up.