Big differences in Beatles album pricing

With much of the hype surrounding the Beatles’ music being added to iTunes now starting to fade, all attention is turning to chart placings for both single tracks and the albums. Despite Apple winning the race to secure the digital exclusive on the Beatles, CD versions of the albums are likely to see a sales increase on the back of all the free advertising.

Music & Copyright has conducted a quick survey of some of the leading online CD retailers in the UK to see what, if any, pricing differences exist between the digital versions offered by iTunes and the retailers’ CD versions. The results were quite surprising.

Looking at iTunes to start with, most of the albums are priced at £10.99 (US$17.47). The compilations (Red and Blue albums) are available for £17.99 and the Beatles Box Set costs £125. In total, you can get the whole lot for just under £330. Compare that with Amazon, and the price for all the albums on CD comes in at just under £260. That’s a saving of almost £70. Moreover, Amazon is selling each album in CD format at a cheaper price than the iTunes digital version. Clearly, Amazon is looking to gain as much out of the Beatles publicity as possible and has lowered its prices accordingly

Amazon’s prices also compare very favourably with the other online CD retailers Play.com and HMV. Play.com is still cheaper than iTunes if you were to buy all the albums as a bundle, but it is almost £40 more expensive than Amazon. Also, the Beatles Box Set is more expensive from Play.com than iTunes.

So how does HMV’s pricing compare? Well, the retailer’s online Beatles offerings are the most expensive of all – that is if you were to buy all the albums together. But this is because the Box Set is priced at £159.99. Excluding this, all of the albums, with the exception of Revolver, are cheaper at HMV in CD format than digitally from iTunes.

Clearly it is early days in the Beatles price war and the likelihood is the prices in the table below will change a few times in the run up to Christmas. However, it would appear that Amazon is leading the pack so far in trying to make the most out of iTunes’ gain.

Music & Copyright is a fortnightly research service published by Informa Telecoms & Media.

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