updated 09:30 am EDT, Wed July 4, 2007
New Universal iTunes deal
Despite assertions by Apple to the contrary, made just yesterday, Universal Music has issued a statement saying it has in fact changed its agreement for the iTunes Store. "Universal Music Group," the statement reads, "decided not to renew its long-term agreement for Apple's iTunes service. Universal Music Group will now market its music to iTunes in an 'at will' capacity, as it does with its other retail partners." This echoes original reports circulated on Monday by Reuters.
The news marks a potentially important blow to Apple, since it gives Universal the freedom to negotiate special deals -- including non-iTunes exclusives -- with other vendors, such as Napster. Prominent artists on Universal include the Black Eyed Peas, Macy Gray and U2, with the complete roster representing nearly a third of all music published worldwide.
The label seems to have bristled at its relationship with Apple. While the two companies were originally united in a three-year deal, after the rise of the iTunes Store to dominance, a subsequent deal was limited to one year. Universal has also come out strongly in favor of DRM, something that Apple has been seeking to dismantle with iTunes Plus.