When other editors and I here at Techno Buffalo discussed how relevant the extension of music previews in the iTunes Store we all kind of said, “ehh”. After some careful consideration, and really thinking about what this preview extension means, I have come to realize that this is a much bigger deal than meets the eye.
From the beginning, iTunes Store users have complained about the short 30 second preview of the song before purchase. Let’s face it, the majority of the songs have an introduction that takes up most of that 30 seconds, which is great if you want a preview of the melody, but if you want an idea of the meaning of the lyrics you’re out of luck. These short previews may or may not have driven some users away from buying music from iTunes. Franky, the last time I have purchased multiple songs at once from iTunes was a few years ago, when Pepsi ran the iTunes code contest. I’m just not willing to drop what seems like an insignificant 99 cents on a song that I don’t get to sample the lyrics.
I don’t know if extending the preview length from 30 seconds to 90 seconds will make a huge, immediate difference in sales numbers for iTunes, but I do expect it to have residual effect over time. I will be more apt to pull the trigger on a song purchase if I could hear half a verse as opposed to simply the introduction, so over time I think it will help sales which benefits both Apple and the music companies.
This brings us to an interesting twist in the preview extension story. Apple has sent a letter out to the music companies modifying the “US DigitalMusic Download Sales Agreement” basically stating that this is the way its going to be and if you don’t like it pull your content, not in so many words of course. It looks as if Apple is playing a bit of hardball and quite frankly, with the music industry in such dire straits, they really don’t have a leg to stand on.
iTunes is the best way for the music industry to generate revenue from sales of music with the Amazon Music Store and Walmart music following in the distance. If the music industry has any hope in battling the music pirates they need to become a bit more consumer friendly, and this preview extension is a good first step.
Do you think the preview extension from 60 to 90 seconds will have an impact of how much music you will purchase?