A couple months ago, rumors made the rounds that Apple was going to double the length of song previews in iTunes from 30 to 60 seconds. An expected announcement did not appear, however, apparently because the music publishers
(who in the past have already claimed -- without success -- that Apple should pay performance fees
on those 30 second previews) felt Apple first needed to get permission
from them, as well as the labels. So it's interesting to see that, at least with the record labels, Apple appears to be taking an aggressive approach, sending out letters simply telling labels that their deals have changed and song previews will now be 90 seconds
It'll be interesting to see if Apple did the same thing with publishers... because you'd have to imagine that the publishers would quickly file a lawsuit if that's the case. According to Greg Sandoval, over at News.com, Apple is still negotiating
with the publishers. That article includes a typically ridiculous quote from Rick Carnes of the Songwriter's Guild:
"It's like giving away ice cream samples--someone has to pay the cost," said Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America. "I think it would be a good thing for consumers to go to 90 seconds. But they're tripling the amount of time, and they want it for free. I think there ought to be compensation. I believe anytime you use music, you ought to reward the people making the music."
Does Rick really believe that? If so, the Songwriters should fire him as their leader. What he should be looking for is what will maximize the revenue overall
, not what will maximize the revenue per use. If you get paid per use, and it means shorter previews -- but that means many fewer sales and less overall money for the artists, then Carnes with his "anytime you use, you pay" philosophy is doing serious harm to the songwriters. And, of course, the actual evidence goes against Carnes. Studies have shown that such longer previews increases purchasing, but the publishing folks and the songwriters like Carnes are more interested in licensing than in direct sales anyway (even if that's really short-sighted). It's too bad that the Songwriters Guild would be represented by someone without their best interests in mind.