Apple Demands iTunes Exclusive Releases From Record Labels

On-demand music streaming services like Spotify or Beats Music have started cannibalizing download sales on iTunes, according to some Apple executives. As a result, the company is now pressuring major record companies to offer new releases exclusively through its iTunes store, attempting to block their initial availability on streaming services, the LA Times reports.


Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report notes that Apple’s push for a new release window shows that the company is scrambling to retain its competitive advantage in an “evolving digital music market”. Currently, iTunes accounts for about 80% of all download sales in the U.S. However, Apple’s digital song and album sales began to slump in 2013 and continued to slide this year.

“These are really changing times, and I think everybody’s going to be trying different things, whether it’s iTunes, Spotify or the labels,” said Irving Azoff, manager of the Eagles, Christina Aguilera and other acts. “It’s kind of up for grabs.” 

Although Apple remains the single largest manufacturer of smartphones, more U.S. consumers now own Android devices running Google’s software, according to researcher the Yankee Group. As consumers gravitate to Google-powered smartphones, they lose access to the world’s biggest and most widely recognized music retailer, Apple’s iTunes.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on reports of Apple executives meeting with major label executives, and approaching individual artists to secure exclusive releases for iTunes.