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iTunes-friendly artists rebel against laggard labels

Japanese bands want to come on board quickly

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Sony Music Entertainment's failure to agree with Apple Japan about getting its artists onto the iTunes Music Store is forcing artists and agencies to deal with the online music store direct.

Sony-signed Japanese rocker Motoharu Sano said on his website this week he will make some of his songs available for download on ITMS.

"I want to deliver my music wherever my listeners are," Sano said, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper.

And Amuse, a management agency for a number of popular Japanese bands and artists, said it is pondering a deal with Apple Japan, an Associated Press report states.

Ironically, Amuse had originally decided not to partner with Apple. "But we are considering joining in the future," said a spokeswoman yesterday. "We want to do what users want."

User want iTunes, it seems. As we reported earlier this week, ITMS Japan sold more than one million songs in its first four days of business. The store opened last Thursday.

Sony Music Entertainment remains separate from Sony-BMG. The Japanese label was the only part of Sony Music not to be included in the two major labels' 2004 merger.

Pre-merger, Sony has licensed content to Apple for all the other territories in which ITMS operates. In Japan, however, Sony is believed to see Apple as more of a threat than an opportunity, not only to its own music download service but also to its PlayStation Portable and Walkman hardware business.

Indeed, at the ITMS Japan launch, Apple CEO Steve Jobs compared the iPod's sales performance directly to the PSP's.

According to AP, not only Sony, but Victor Entertainment artists are absent from ITMS Japan. Both companies confirmed they are still talking to Apple. ®

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