Apple Computer's European rollout of iTunes Music Store will launch Tuesday. However, the long-awaited service will kick off without content from independent labels, after talks broke down between the
Apple Computer's European rollout of iTunes Music Store will launch Tuesday. However, the long-awaited service will kick off without content from independent labels, after talks broke down between the computer giant and leading indies.
Sources say Apple will press the button today on iTunes in the U.K., Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Norway.
It is understood that Apple has secured repertoire from all five majors. A spokesman for U.K.-based indies trade body AIM confirmed yesterday that iTunes would go live in Britain without repertoire from its member labels. "No independent repertoire will be available on the service when it launches tomorrow," says an AIM spokesman.
A source close to the negotiations tells Billboard.biz that the two parties did not agree on the terms of the deal proposed by Apple. "There is not enough clarity on the retail price," says the source. "You cannot just give us a price and just assume we would be content with that. We need more information."
Apple is understood to have issued its content contracts June 8, ahead of a June 12 deadline. That deadline was subsequently extended.
"Unfortunately, and it's very sad, but we're not going to be on the Apple service for launch," says Simon Wheeler, head of new media at London-based indie Beggars Group. "We really do like the Apple service; it's doing good business for us in the States. We're very keen for them to launch over here and get the market going, but we can only be a part of it if the terms are acceptable to us."
Another source at a key British indie tells Billboard.biz that the impasse has echoes of the dispute that dogged MTV Networks Europe's recent negotiations with independents on video licensing payments. Those talks faltered over royalties MTV was to pay in order to play independent videos. The parties eventually brokered an 11th-hour deal.
"We feel like this is another MTV, where there's one rule for the majors and one for the indies," says the source. "We don't feel like we're getting a great deal. We're pretty sure that the majors have been offered different terms to us. The price undercuts all our other deals."
A spokesperson for Apple did not return calls by deadline.