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Apple Seeking More Exclusive iTunes Releases As Digital Music Sales Decline

by Brandon Russell | March 11, 2014March 11, 2014 4:15 pm PST


Apple wants to secure more exclusive iTunes releases as it looks to turn around slumping digital sales, which have fallen as the popularity of streaming services continues to rise. The Cupertino company is reportedly pressuring major record execs to give iTunes timed exclusivity before albums are made available on services like Spotify; the model would be similar to what some Hollywood studios impose for newly released films for home viewing. Apple’s iTunes has dominated download sales for over a decade, but the service has seen a steady decline year-over-year.

Apple has reportedly cited the release of Beyonce’s most recent self-titled album as an example of how exclusivity could benefit sales. After surprisingly going on sale through iTunes in December, the singer’s fifth album sold over 800,000 copies in just three days, making it the fastest-selling album on iTunes ever. While not every artist enjoys the same popularity as Beyonce, Apple is arguing that withholding albums from streaming services could help push sales in the short and long-term. Song downloads are allegedly down 12-percent this year, while digital album sales are down 13-percent, data from Nielsen SoundScan suggests.

It’s unclear how willing record companies are to bow to Apple’s demands. The success of Beyonce’s album is definitely a good example for the best case scenario, but can lightning strike twice? The release of Beyonce’s album reportedly provoked a backlash from retailers, which refused to carry the CD when it was released, The Los Angeles Times said. Indeed, Spotify Chief Content Office Ken Parks said Apple’s attempt to dictate how people consume music “ just doesn’t work for anyone.”


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...