“Apple Inc. has begun pressuring the major record companies to offer new releases exclusively through its iTunes store — a move that would initially block availability on streaming services such as Spotify or Beats Music, according to several people familiar with the matter,” Dawn C. Chmielewski and Randy Lewis report for The Los Angeles Times. “Apple executives contend that on-demand music services have begun to cannibalize download sales, and its representatives are demanding the labels create a period reserved for digital purchasing.”

“Music industry insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the industry’s dominant retailer, said Apple’s push for a new release window — similar to the one that some Hollywood studios impose for films newly released for home viewing — shows the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant is scrambling to retain its competitive advantage in an evolving digital music market,” Chmielewski and Lewis report. “Apple’s iTunes online store accounts for about 80% of all download sales in the U.S. But after a decade of uninterrupted growth domestically, digital song and album sales began to slump in 2013 and continued to slide this year. Song downloads were down 12% through the first eight weeks of this year compared with a year earlier, and digital album sales were off 13%, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan.”

“Industry insiders attribute the decline to a variety of factors, including the growing popularity of streaming services, as well as increased competition for the consumer’s ear,” Chmielewski and Lewis report. “Although Apple remains the single largest manufacturer of smartphones, more U.S. consumers now own Android devices running Google’s software, according to researcher the Yankee Group. As consumers gravitate to Google-powered smartphones, they lose access to the world’s biggest and most widely recognized music retailer, Apple’s iTunes… ‘I’ve never had anyone [at Apple] say streaming is killing our business,’ said Jim Guerinot, whose Rebel Waltz Management handles No Doubt, Trent Reznor and other acts. ‘They’ve been very specific for 10 years about wanting extra content — just like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target. They’re very aggressive about trying to do something that will differentiate them from everybody else.'”

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