Feeds

iTunes price rise a cert - EMI boss

A dollar too short

Remote control for virtualized desktops

EMI Music's chief executive Alain Levy has said that there's now a consensus that the price of hit songs will rise on digital download sites. Apple charges 99 cents per song on its iTunes Music Store regardless of the song's popularity - something that the industry is keen to change.

"There is a common understanding that we will have to come to a variable pricing structure. The issue is when. There is a case for superstars to have a higher price," Levy told the Wall Street Journal.

Variable pricing will mean the cost of some, less popular songs, will come down. Apple unilaterally imposed the 99 cents per song fee by refusing - according to popular legend - to sign the terms offered by the major labels. Then it went ahead and launched the iTunes Music Store anyway, riding a Shock and Awe publicity campaign, and effectively daring the labels to pull out.

(We've been able to confirm or deny this version of events, but it's an oft-told story).

The labels and the download sites have been at loggerheads ever since. Microsoft was reported to have pulled out of negotiations entirely with the Big Four labels.

Last month a top music business lawyer called for the labels to withdraw their support from iTunes altogether.

"What if Jobs says 39 cents or 29 cents per download - what then? The industry can say, OK, we'll cut him off - very few people people buy music from digital downloads... [Jobs] will figure out another model," said attorney Ken Hertz, who represents Alanis Morrissette and other artists.

However Hertz doubted that the even if the labels wanted to withdraw from co-operating with Apple, they'd be able to carry out this threat.

"My point was that if Apple were to insist on a lower price, it is unclear whether the industry would even be in a position to 'cut Apple off,' he explained. "The industry may have no choice but to take what it can get, rather than cede the paid download business altogether", he told us today. Hertz is an advocate for flat fee collective licensing.

But there's also a seismic tension resulting from the unilateral imposition of 99 cents per song that has yet to be resolved.

Artists, represented by music publishers, take home only around 6 cents from every 99 cents sale, with recording rights holders earning around 65 cents. So the brave new world of digital distribution has perpetuated the inequities of the old model, dashing a decade of hopes. It's a complicated picture because the major labels also own the major music publishers.

But in the end, something's got to give. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.