Apple imposes ultimatum on longer music clips

Apple has offered a startling ultimatum to music industry bosses over its intention to offer 90-second previews of music on the iTunes store.

In a blanket letter to publishers and rights holders who are part of the iTunes Connect scheme, Apple has told label representatives that they will be offering 90 second clips of all tracks over 2 minutes and 30 seconds, while shorter tunes will maintain the current 30 second samples.

The communication, which insists that longer clips will benefit all parties involved, amounts to Apple telling the music industry to put up or shut up, with the only option beyond agreeing to the change being the withdrawal of recordings from the iTunes service.

"All you have to do is continue making your content available on the iTunes Store, which will confirm your acceptance to the following terms," the letter reads.

Those terms license Apple to use the longer clips without charge.

Apple announced that it wanted to use longer samples some months ago and, of course, not everyone involved in the music industry was happy about the situation, with at least one organisation which purports to protect the interests of artists and publishers vowing to waste what will probably amount to millions of dollars paying lawyers to negotiate Apple's right to provide longer preview clips.

The use of 90-second clips is of course a fantastic idea (try listening to the first 30 seconds of your average Pink Floyd track and tell us it gives you a reasonable idea of what the song is all about) and will have zero impact on piracy, because no-one wants to steal half a song.

And let's face it, if you want to preview the whole song you only have to sign up with Spotify or any one of a dozen other free streaming services, so what's the point in complaining?

The longer previews will roll out in the USA in the first instance over the next week or so and will probably hit other territories in the coming months.