Apple to extend song previews to 90 seconds in US

3 Nov 2010

In a move that could eventually make its way global, Apple has decided to extend the length of song previews on iTunes from the present 30 seconds to 90 seconds for songs at least two minutes 30 seconds long.

The technology giant told music labels it believes that giving people more time to preview a track on iTunes would boost music sales.

“We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the US,” Apple wrote in an email to label representatives.

“We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases.”

You’re either in or you’re out

Such a move, Apple said, modifies the US Digital Music Download Sales Agreement that many labels signed up to.

To show they agree with the move, Apple said all the labels have to do is continue making their content available on the iTunes Store. In other words, if they don’t agree they’ll have to withdraw their music from the store.

Apple may be indeed right with this move; sometimes for music buyers 30 seconds isn’t long enough make that emotional connection with the track to decide to buy it.

Spreading the preview option to the rest of the world will not be so easy, as Apple has to negotiate the legals country by country. Typically, the company negotiates with the larger economies, like Germany or the UK, simply because it impacts more people in less time. Smaller countries like Belgium or Ireland are usually lower down the list due to scale.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years