-- Apple has responded to a claim that it charges a $10,000 production fee for the creation of iTunes LP titles. Said an Apple spokesperson, "We're releasing the open specs for iTunes LP soon, allowing both major and indie labels to create their own. There is no production fee charged by Apple."

- Music Ally has more details on BSkyB's Sky Songs music subscription service: it will be browser-based, anyone can sign up (not just BSkyB customers), there will be a lot of editorial and recommendations, and there will be no social network integration upon its launch (although "share this page" links to Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and other social networks can clearly be seen at the bottom of the home page). In addition, Omnifone is powering the streaming and downloads and 24-7 Entertainment is behind the "catalog ingestion," or backend support. Click here for a screenshot of the home page. Although clean and nicely laid out, Sky Song's home page lacks the simplicity of Spotify's layout (Spotify is client-based, by the way) and looks like most other download stores (not that there's anything wrong with that).
(Music Ally)

-- The New York Times profiles Rdio, an online music start-up founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Kazaa, Skype and Joost. Rdio is the latest in a long string of companies attempting to create a successful subscription model. The company, wrote Brad Stone, will launch "a music subscription service by early next year that offers seamless access to music from both PCs and cellphones." An EMI executive confirmed the company is currently in licensing talks with Rdio.
(New York Times)

-- TuneCore has revamped its widget to include some new features: an optional donation link; the ability to stream up to 1,000 tracks; a "join" button to collect fans' contact info; and many others. Click here to see an example.
(Press Release)

-- CD Baby has announced some changes for its iTunes sales. iTunes U.K. is now folded into iTunes Europe and iTunes New Zealand will be tallied in sales from iTunes Australia.

-- Rhapsody is working on offline playing capabilities for its iPhone app, according to one of its UX designers.

-- Time spent watching video online per viewer increased 25% year over year in September 2009. Unique viewers rose 12% and streams per viewer increased 11%.
(Nielsen Wire)

-- CNET's Greg Sandoval has a good overview on why labels are in no hurry to drop royalty rates for streaming services. In short, labels wouldn't miss any one streaming service if it went under, and downloads are the only proven way to make money in digital music. Both are true. Many streaming services have been sunk by a poor product and lack of consumer support that were entirely unrelated to their cost structure. There have been instances, however, of deals being worked out to lower a company's costs (Imeem and Warner Music Group traded equity for lower rates, for example). And while labels would love for subscriptions to take off, he wrote, consumers have largely rejected them. Yes, consumers have remained cool to subscriptions in the form of Rhapsody and Napster. But those services do not offer the portability or ownership most people desire. Subscriptions can work in other forms. Look across the pond. BSkyB is about to launch Sky Songs, an ISP-based subscription service that offers a fixed number of MP3 downloads plus unlimited streaming.

-- Digital jukebox company eCast recently raised $17 million in funding.
( Digital Music News)

Follow Billboard senior analyst Glenn Peoples on Twitter at twitter.com/billboardglenn.