Apple Store“The last time Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs took on major recording companies, he refused to budge on his 99-cent price for a song on iTunes,” Alex Veiga reports for The Associated Press.

“As a new round of talks ramp up this month, however, Jobs has opened the door to higher prices – as long as music companies let Apple Inc. sell their songs without technology designed to stop unauthorized copying,” Veiga reports.

“Last month, Britain’s EMI Music Group PLC, home to artists such as Coldplay, Norah Jones and Joss Stone, agreed to let iTunes sell tracks without the copy-protection technology known as digital-rights management. The DRM-free tracks cost 30 cents more than copy-restricted versions of EMI songs and feature enhanced sound quality,” Veiga reports.

“‘At this point, no one can ignore Apple or what Apple wants, given its position in the marketplace,’ said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research. ‘The fact that they were able to do this deal with EMI puts more pressure on some of the other labels to follow suit,'” Veiga reports.

“For their part, at least two of the recording companies will ask Jobs to sell a wider variety of content in digital bundles of songs, videos and other multimedia, according to two recording company executives familiar with their companies’ plans. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the confidential nature of the negotiations,” Veiga reports.

“Apple already sells some bundled tracks, but the music companies hope expanding those offerings will boost online revenue and help offset lagging CD sales,” Veiga reports.

“Last year, the main issue that dominated iTunes licensing talks was pricing, as some of the big music companies urged Jobs to entertain charging more for some songs than others,” Veiga reports. The dispute percolated for months, but Jobs didn’t budge, not wanting to complicate iTunes’ simple pricing scheme for singles. Eventually, the music companies each agreed to one-year deals, which expire this spring.”

Veiga reports, “Critics of the recording industry have argued for years that the labels are alienating customers by placing copy restrictions on legal music downloads, especially as many CDs have been sold without them.”

Much more in the full article here.