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Apple to triple iTunes song sample length

But not for all tunes

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Apple's CD-crushing, music industry–transforming iTunes music store will triple the length of many of its song samples from 30 to 90 seconds.

This move, which has been rumored for weeks, was first reported by the Symphonic Distribution blog on Tuesday, then confirmed by Cnet that evening.

The change was announced in a "Dear Label Representative" email sent to, well, representatives of music-distribution labels. The missive said in part: "We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States."

No mention was made of increasing the sample length in other countries — yet — but it's a safe assumption that negotiations with international labels to allow such an increase are underway.

The sample expansion has one limit, however: 90-second samples will only be allowed for iTunes offerings that are over two minutes and 30 seconds in length — a restriction that will keep the 30-second rule in force for classics such as Randy Newman's Political Science and Mama Told Me Not To Come, The Clash's London's Burning and White Riot, and the majority of The Ramones' oeuvre.

One quartet of lovable Liverpudlian moptops was also famous for the brevity of their offerings, especially in their early years, but negotiations that would allow The Beatles' catalog onto the iTunes Store have dragged on for years, with no end in sight.

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the extension — aside, of course, from the labels, which should see increased sales from increased sample lengths — are classical music aficionados. A 30-second sample of, say, Debussy's G minor Quartet or Boulez' Le Marteau Sans Maître can hardly give you a flavor of the entire work, while a 30-second clip of Waka Flocka Flame's "No Hands" should provide more than enough tunage to make an informed buying decision — although at 4:27, "No Hands" is now eligible for the full 90-second treatment. ®

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