Apple cuts DRM-free tracks to 99c

Apple cuts DRM-free tracks to 99c

Unprotected tracks still offered at 256Kbps bit-rate

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has revealed that the iTunes store will offer DRM-free tracks for the same price as its protected songs.

Jobs revealed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the company will drop the cost of its DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks to 99 cents by 18 October.

The lower price will apply to music from EMI and those independent labels which had agreed to sell music without copy protection.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the reports, and said that the iTunes Plus tracks will still be offered at the higher 256Kbps bit-rate.

Apple began the iTunes Plus programme in May after anti-DRM groups publicly criticised the company for using copy-protection software that restricted music to Apple's iPod or iTunes players.

Jobs issued an open letter to customers shortly before iTunes Plus was launched claiming that Apple would offer all music without DRM if the record labels agreed.

The latest move follows a tumultuous period for the iTunes store, during which Apple had a public falling-out with NBC over video download pricing.

Apple is also reportedly in danger of losing two major iTunes music partners, with the news that Universal and Sony BMG are working on a new download service.