Universal Music Group (UMG), one of the world’s largest commercial music publishers, has turned down an opportunity to continue a long-term arrangement with Apple, a source confirmed to
. Apple disputed the information, however.
Up until a few weeks ago, UMG supported the iTunes Store with a long-term agreement that guaranteed Apple access to all artists on Universal labels. With Apple now occupying the third spot among overall music retailers in the United States behind Wal-Mart and Best Buy, UMG no longer saw the need to support Apple with a long-term arrangement, the source said.
“We are still negotiating with Universal, the music is still on iTunes, and their not resigning is just not true,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr.
This puts Apple on a level playing field with other UMG partners such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Yahoo and Amazon.com. And it frees UMG to make exclusive arrangements with other companies. It doesn’t preclude UMG from doing a deal with Apple to offer artist exclusives through the iTunes Store, either.
Apple remains an important partner for UMG, said the source. The company will continue to offer music through the iTunes Store, and has no plans to pull its catalog.
Editor’s note: Updated with a comment from Apple.