New iTunes Preview Rules: 90 Seconds For Songs Over 150 Seconds. Don't Like It? Get Out.

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Well it didn’t happen on September 1 as some had been anticipating, but it looks like Apple is indeed extending iTunes song preview times. And while initial reports suggested they would up the previews from the current 30 seconds to 60 seconds, they’re actually tripling many of them, to 90 full seconds, the blog Symphonic Distribution reports.

MacRumors, meanwhile, snagged a copy of the iTunes Connect letter apparently being sent to label representatives that has all the details. They can be summarized as such:

  • If a song is longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the song preview clips may now be up to 90 seconds long.
  • If a song is shorter than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the song preview clips will remain at the 30 second length.
  • If you don’t like this policy change, get out.

It’s sort of humorous to think that this is the letter Apple is sending around to label which begins with “we are pleased to let you know”. Most of the labels probably aren’t too pleased about that. But you have to assume that Apple was negotiating this change with the big boys, and that’s why it took so long.

But since this change is opt-out rather than opt-in, any label who really doesn’t like this change will be forced to pull their music from iTunes if they don’t wish to participate. Considering that iTunes is largest music retailer in the world, will any dare do that? Probably not.

Apple says that this change will lead to more purchases since customers will have longer to listen and decide that they like a song. It’s a nice bump. Still, it’s even more of a tease for what we should have: streaming music from the cloud. You know, what Spotify does and Lala did before Apple bought them and shut them down.

If Apple can stream 90 seconds of just about every song out there, you know they can stream the entire thing. It’s just a matter of when they’ll start doing that.

This change appears to be happening in the U.S. iTunes store only for now. And it should be happening shortly.

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