Published on December 4th, 2012 | by Alan Cross


All iTunes Stores Are Not Created Equal. Here’s Why

It used to be that if an iTunes user couldn’t find what they were looking for in their country’s store, it was easy to shift to iTunes in another country.  For example, I used to shop in the UK iTunes quite a bit in order to get songs that weren’t yet available domestically.  

Yes, it was more expensive–99 pence (somewhere around $1.55, give or take) per song–but the convenience made it worth it.  I’d often to the same thing with the US store.

I can’t remember which version of iTunes killed that option, but I remember being most annoyed.

Why did Apple do that?  Two reasons. First, there’s the complications of licensing and copyright.  Some songs have been okayed for release in certain territories while others have not.  Second, iTunes doesn’t want anyone playing the currency exchange game.

Like I just said, the price of recorded music is not the same across the planet. Canadians can buy tracks on iTunes at various price points (69 cents, 99 cents, $1.29), the same as we see in the US.  

But if the loonie were to drop below par with the greenback again, US residents might be tended to switch from the American iTunes to the Canadian store to get their music at a discount.

This must be galling for Brits.  While the denominations for buying music is the same (69 pence, 99 pence, £1.29), the real cost to them is higher when compared to the international marketplace.

On the other end of things is the brand new Russian iTunes store.  There music starts at just 15 rubles, which is equivalent to about 49 cents.  Hey, it’s what market forces dictate.

And it could be much weirder in the 55 other countries that just got iTunes this week.  Have you seen the exchange rate for the Indonesia rupiah?  One of those equals 0.0001 Canadian dollars.  I have no idea what the price points are for someone living in Jakarta, but I’d love to know.

About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker.

In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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