Apple has told the record labels that it plans to extend previews in iTunes for songs over two minutes and thirty seconds from 30 to 90 seconds. In a note to its content providers, it said it believed “that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases.”
Many had expected Apple to increase preview times eventually, but had though it would be to a full minute, and was expected by some to be announced at Apple’s September music event. Several other music providers have begun to offer longer previews, which likely give consumers a better idea of the song they plan to purchase.
Labels will be forced to comply with the switch: the letter states that their continued presence on the store indicates their acceptance of the new terms. If they do not want 90-second previews of their content they will need to remove it from iTunes, Apple wrote.
It is hard to see why the labels would not want to comply: longer previews would seemingly increase sales. Add to this that Apple has provided protections for shorter songs by making the minimum song length a full minute longer, and no label would be giving their content away for free through a preview.
The Cupertino company so far has not acknowledged the change publicly, and as of Wednesday afternoon song previews still remained at 30 seconds. No timeline was given for the change according to press reports. It appears to only affect the US version of the iTunes Music Store.
Apple could not be reached for comment.