updated 10:00 pm EDT, Tue November 2, 2010
iTunes music samples extending to 90 seconds
Apple's plans to extend iTunes samples appeared to be moving forward Tuesday night as music publisher Symphonic Distribution said it had been told song samples would grow from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. Any song longer than two minutes and 30 seconds will automatically get the longer preview time. The deal for now is known only to affect the US and would be mandatory, as keeping music on the store would automatically grant permission.
"We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases," Apple said in a notice explaining the decision.
Longer sample times were rumored for Apple's annual music event on September 1, but the deal allegedly fell through as Apple didn't account for licensing needs from multiple parties. Some labels may also have pushed back, as they may be concerned that customers could hear enough of a song for it to constitute a sale. Amazon MP3 and most other music stores are still locked to 30 -second samples.
Sample size has become a sticking point for listeners outside of typical pop music genres. Classical, electronic and spoken word fans have complained that the longer average tracks and often non-standard structures aren't properly served by 30-second clips. The sampling time was originally designed to catch the hook of a pop song but rarely does so with longer or unconventional pieces.