Apple is widening its catalogue of iTunes Plus tracks, introducing releases from independent labels at just 79-pence per track, though EMI catalogue seemingly retains the 99-pence price.

Apple's US store is now charging the same price (99-cents) for its non-DRM-laden iTunes Plus tracks as it does for its lower bit-rate FairPlay tracks.

Speaking to US wire services, Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris said: "It's been very popular with our customers and we're now making it available at an even more affordable price."

Apple this afternoon officially announced that it has also expanded its iTunes Plus offering to over two million tracks and lowered the price of many iTunes Plus tracks to 79p.

The iTunes Plus catalogue is now the largest DRM-free catalogue in the world, and includes artists from Sub Pop, Nettwerk, Beggars Group, IODA, The Orchard and many other key independents, along with EMI's digital catalogue.

"iTunes Plus has been incredibly popular with our customers and now we're making it available at an even more affordable price," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTun
es.

Until now, iTunes Plus content has come exclusively from EMI, but releases from Sub Pop, Beggars Group, Cooking Vinyl, Cherry Red and other independents are now available in the DRM-free format through Apple's UK iTunes Store.

"We're adding over two million tracks from key independent labels in addition to EMI's digital catalogue and look forward to even more labels and artists making their music available on iTunes Plus," Apple spokesperson, Tom Neumayr told Macworld US.

The iTunes Plus link on the front of the UK iTunes website is non-functional at time of writing, suggesting work continues in adding new catalogue and setting new prices. Tracks from John Lennon remain listed at 99p on the UK store if purchased in iTunes Plus format.

iTunes Plus songs aren't encumbered with DRM and are available at higher 256kbps bit-rates than standard iTunes tracks (128kbps).