Apple “has approached some of the major music labels to try to expand the variety of ringtones and other musical features available on the device, several label executives said last week. The negotiations are very active right now and a final deal has not been set, said the executives, who requested anonymity so as not to disrupt the ongoing talks,” Sual Hansell blogs for The New York Times. “‘They want a big launch in June,’ said one label executive familiar with the discussions.”
“Right now, Apple offers ringtones as a 99-cent upgrade to its regular 99-cent music tracks, but not all tracks can be converted into ringtones. Apple is looking to expand its inventory, the executives said,” Hansell reports.
“The company is also hoping to add answer tones, also known as ringback tones—songs that a caller hears instead of the “ring ring” sound while waiting for someone to answer. In some cases, these command an even higher wholesale price than ringtones,” Hansell reports.
“Also under discussion is whether Apple can sell songs from its iTunes store directly to iPhones over the cell-phone broadband network. With the next generation of phone expected to use much faster 3G technology, this is technically feasible. Here too, music labels argue that they should be paid more for an over-the-air download than a standard track bought over the internet, where the wholesale price is about 70 cents,” Hansell reports.
Hansell reports, “All sides understand the stakes are significant.”
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