Universal, Warner to Leave iTunes' Party Shuffle?

October 26, 2007 11:13 AM ET

There might be a few defecting record labels on iTunes' horizon. After Universal Music Group's exclusive contract with Apple's digital-music service ran out earlier this year, UMG proposed a month-to-month contract that allowed the label to entertain offers from other music services. At year's end, according to the Washington Post, Warner Music Group may consider a similar contract. It's the latest move by the industry to tip the balance of power between themselves and Steve Jobs. Apple has had the upper-hand thus far, setting a price limit on MP3s and videos that some labels believe is under market value.

Considering that up to 20 percent of music revenue comes from digital sales, in the wake of declining CD sales, labels are eager to gain leverage to get Jobs to eliminate his price limit. That leverage, besides the elimination of exclusivity, is the iPodization of TV shows. NBC (a partner company of Universal) and iTunes are in the midst of a price war, which will likely result in banishment of all NBC/USA/Bravo shows when the contract ends December 1st. Can UMG be far behind? We know there are a fistful of competitors eager to fight for iTunes' throne. Or will Apple finally yield to industry requests to raise prices?

Related Stories:
World's Largest Record Label Threatens to Bolt From iTunes
Eureka! Labels Finally Discover They Can Sell Music On The Internet
iTunes Challengers Wal-Mart, MTV, Rhapsody Line Up for Large-Scale Assault

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »