Report: Apple in talks w/ Russian labels ahead of new music service, international iTunes Radio rollout

Apple Watch + Music

Apple Watch + Music

We’ve reported extensively on what Apple has in store for its new revamped music service that will come alongside an international expansion of iTunes Radio, and today reports from Russian publication Vedomosti (via Billboard) hint that Russia will be one market Apple is aiming to launch in soon… Read more

Spotify is not ending its free service (Updated)

spotify

Update: We’ve gotten word from a Spotify spokesperson that the Free model isn’t going anywhere. Director of Communications at Spotify Graham James told me “This is totally false.  Our model is working.” 

Digital Music News is claiming that Spotify is coming under pressure from music labels to end its free, ad-supported service, limiting users to a three-month free trial.

The three-month ‘proposal,’ advanced most principally by major labels Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, would allow current, free-access, ad-supported (or ‘freemium’) subscribers to continue their plans for 6 months, while new users would be limited to three months only.

Coincidentally or not, Universal Music Group is one of the labels specifically mentioned in two investigations into whether Apple is attempting to stifle competition in the run up to launching its own streaming music service …  Read more

European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

juncker-team-a

Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Apple unlikely to hit $7.99/month for streaming music service as labels stand firm on pricing

music

Apple appears set to abandon its plans to offer the rebranded Beats streaming music service for less than the $9.99/month charged by Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music. Billboard reports that Apple’s attempts to use its clout to negotiate better deals with record labels have been unsuccessful.

Negotiations for Apple’s upcoming subscription service are evidence labels are standing firm on pricing. Industry sources say Apple has backed down from its effort to lower monthly pricing for its subscription service to $7.99 from $9.99.

The report says that the deals offered by the labels would have left Apple losing money if it had gone ahead with its plan to offer the service for the rumored $7.99/month …  Read more

AP, Bloomberg and CNN file motion to allow them to broadcast Steve Jobs deposition video

steve-jobs-video

We may get to see the two-hour video of Steve Jobs giving pre-trial evidence in the iPod antitrust case, if the judge approves a motion jointly filed by AP, Bloomberg and CNN to make it public. CNET reported:

“Given the substantial public interest in the rare posthumous appearance of Steve Jobs in this trial, there simply is no interest that justifies restricting the public’s access to his video deposition,” attorney Thomas Burke, who is representing all three media organizations, wrote in the filing Monday

The video currently has the same status of live testimony given in the case, meaning that it can be reported on but the video cannot be broadcast …  Read more

iTunes dominates US music retail, Amazon fails to dent share

The figures are in and they confirm that iTunes remains the biggest US digital music retailer, with Amazon failing to grab too much of Apple’s digital music heartland.

NPD tells us AAPL’s iTunes took 66.2% of the digital music market in the third quarter of this year – that’s up from 63.2% in Q3 2009.  Easy still beats free. Read more

Google's internal politics complicate its music plans

Google is about to change the music economy, preparing to hand over huge amounts of cash to win rights to offer the music locker service it has been trying to build for Google Music.  However, confused internal politics and music licensing complexity mean Google, just like Spotify and Apple, isn’t set to launch its service before the end of the year. Read more