British singer Lily Allen has accused Apple of bullying musicians into providing exclusive content for iTunes.
Her comments were made in a radio interview. She stated: “They won’t advertise your album unless you give them extra material,” according to a report in the
Wall Street Journal .
Allen claimed Apple pushed her to quickly produce a new version of a song for sale on iTunes, so she planned to give them a “rubbish remix”.
Apple shuns the typical pay-for-placement system used by high-street music retailers, which sees labels pay for good in-store placement of albums. Apple claims its stance enables it to make unbiased music recommendations. Apple iTunes VP Eddy Cue wants customers to feel that advice on music is “coming from someone who really liked it versus someone who was paid to say they liked it,” according to the Wall Street Journal report.
In order to gain visibility on the front page of iTunes, labels must negotiate with Apple. Apple offers good iTunes placement to artists who offer exclusive access to new songs, special discount pricing or additional material such as interviews, according to the report.
This placement is key. One industry executive told the Wall Street Journal that during a week when an album is featured on the iTunes home page it can sell about five times more copies on average than it does when the album isn’t featured.
Now executives are concerned that Apple is using the iTunes home page to promote TV shows, movies and games, leaving less room for pitching music content. Label executives claim it is now necessary to begin discussions with Apple three to six months before a major music release to have a chance of promoting it on the iTunes home page.