sound performance complement

Apple deal with labels might include sharing ad revenue, inventory for relaxed restrictions in how it uses music

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 1:35pm

Bloomberg News reported late yesterday that Apple's rumored negotiations with record labels (first reported in RAIN here) "have intensified," and that negotiators could reach a settlement by the middle of next month. That would pave the way for Apple's own ad-supported Internet radio service to launch in early 2013.

Early last month, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal broke the story that Apple had been in talks with major record labels for its own webcast service. Following the publication of the Bloomberg story, Pandora's stock price fell 12%, to an all-time low of $7.97 this morning, valuing the company at about $1.3 billion.

The negotiations reportedly involve record labels getting a share of advertising revenues and inventory. "In addition to an upfront fee, record companies are seeking a percentage of ad sales and the ability to insert their own commercials for artists," Bloomberg reports.

In exchange for sharing ad income and space, Apple would presumably be allowed to stream music without the same constraints with which other webcasters do (the technical term for these constraints is the "sound performance complement" of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Apple "wants listeners to be able to buy tracks as music streams or revisit what they’ve heard in auto-generated playlists."

"If Apple offers a radio product, it will be far superior to anything else on the market," Rich Greenfield, a New York analyst with BTIG, told Bloomberg. "They’re seeking direct licenses to avoid all the restrictions that come with a compulsory license." 

The story also reported that Apple's Internet radio service would be mobile-focused, "tailored for its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch" devices. In other words, if sources are correct, the service won’t be focused on delivering music through a Web browser.

Bloomberg attributes all of these details to "people with knowledge of the talks."

Read Bloomberg News here.

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