Major music labels are looking at ways to increase the cost of digital music downloads, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"The industry is also mulling other ways to charge more for online singles," the report claims, adding that some labels are considering "bundling hit songs with other less-desirable tracks". Premium prices for pre-release downloads are also under consideration.

Apple's iTunes Music Store ushered in an era of 99-cent downloads, establishing a consumer-friendly "sweet-spot". Apple also charged $9.99 for albums – now, some albums cost more than that: N.E.R.D album Fly or Die now costs $16.99 on iTunes: it's $13.49 on Amazon.

"Unburdened by manufacturing and distribution costs, online music was supposed to usher in a new era of inexpensive, easy-to-access music for consumers," the report states.

Digitally-distributed music sales are growing popular right now – but a price rise at this stage of the industry's growth could slow it down, critics of such plans state.

Label execs are also considering charging premium prices for older, hard-to-find tracks as these go online.