Variable pricing might not have made much difference to what's on sale in the iTunes store, but there are ways you can get music without endlessly coughing up $1.69 a track.
It's worth keeping a sense of perspective on this -- when I first started buying music on singles too long ago to decently discuss in public, two tracks would set you back $3.00, so once you factor in inflation music has definitely gotten cheaper overall. But that doesn't mean we're still not looking to save a few cents more. Here's some simple ways to go about that.
5. Utilise free resources
It may be driven by commercial music, but there's plenty of audio in iTunes you don't have to pay a cent for. The biggest source is the podcast listings, which can give you hours of entertainment without demanding any form of monetary compensation. You can also broaden your horizons with the free Single Of The Week.
4. Buy music outside the iTunes store
It's obvious, but worth repeating: Just because you have an iPod doesn't mean you can only buy from iTunes. Any store that sells music in MP3 format will get along just fine with your preferred Apple player. The dominant local provider is Big Pond Music, which charges $1.65 for regular tracks. However, the top 10 songs sell for $0.99 -- a rate that soundly beats iTunes. And don't neglect physical CDs, especially if they're on sale.
3. Check out the specials section
While it doesn't have big sale frenzies in the manner of conventional retailers, the iTunes Store does have some discount-priced options. Check out the Special Price section for less-than-full-price music.
2. Purchase albums rather than singles
iTunes is often accused of destroying the market for albums by emphasising single track purchases. That's a big-picture cultural argument we'll save for another time, but there's one area where it remains a visible proponent of albums: they're cheaper on a track-by-track basis. For instance, Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' (a perennial iTunes seller in recent weeks) will set you back $1.69. Buy the whole 'Fearless' album for $16.99 and you get 13 tracks -- an effective per-song price of around $1.30. With on-sale albums, the ratios get even better.
1. Buy iTunes cards on sale
Discounted Apple hardware might be a rarity, but iTunes cards regularly go on sale at major retailers, and we tend to point those deals out here at Lifehacker when we notice them (check out the current special at Coles for one example). Stock up before you stock up and you'll save cash. An added bonus: using iTunes cards is a more secure approach than paying by credit card, especially if you only top up with small denomination.
What other tactics do you use to keep your iTunes Store bill down? Drop those headphones and drop your thoughts in the comments.
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