Apple seen having upper hand in music negotiations

Following its anti-DRM deal with EMI earlier this month, Apple is entering talks with the other major record labels from a position of strength, according to industry executives. During this month’s contract renegotiations, Apple is expected to focus mainly on getting the labels to follow EMI’s lead and drop copy-protection on their digital music offerings. The labels, however, will try hard to push their own agenda, including variable song pricing, an iTunes subscription plan, and possibly trying to get their hands on a cut of iPod or iPhone sales.

“Universal, Sony BMG and Warner will aim to steer contract renewal negotiations with Apple to discussions on variable pricing for songs, a subscription service for iTunes, and more bundling of tracks and other features into digital packages,” reports Reuters. “The music companies also want to improve their margins on the wholesale pricing of digital songs. There has even been talk of getting a cut of sales of iPods themselves, or future devices such as the highly anticipated iPhone set for availability in June. But analysts see that as unlikely, with EMI’s deal probably pushing the issue of dropping digital rights management to the top of the agenda.”

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