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Amazon, Wal-Mart follow Apple, raise MP3 prices

Amazon.com and Wal-Mart have both quietly followed Apple’s lead and will now charge more for some top-selling tracks in their MP3 stores.

Some songs will now sell for $1.29 at Amazon’s MP3 store, up from 99 cents, while Wal-Mart is now charging $1.24 for top tracks, up from 94 cents. Apple introduced variable pricing to its iTunes music store Tuesday, by charging 69 cents for older tracks, 99 cents for recent songs and $1.29 for new hits, instead of the previous 99 cents for any track.

Amazon’s decision to raise prices seems especially unusual, considering that the company actually cut the price of some top-selling MP3s in the UK on Tuesday in advance of Apple’s price increases. Amazon has also started to gain some traction in the MP3 market.

But Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff writes that he “can’t imagine Amazon’s excited about raising prices in a recession? They’re probably responding to price increases by the record labels, which were made possible by Apple’s capitulation.”